Order of Christ, Grand Cross Breast Star
Image courtesy of Fatima Rodrigues at Wikipedia
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The Imperial Order of Christ (Imperial Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo) was originally founded in Portugal by King Dinis/Denis on March 14, 1319. It was founded to retain the knights of the recently dissolved Order of the Templar Knights, and to reward those who expelled the Moors from Portugal.
When King João I/John I of Portugal arrived to Brazil in 1807, he was the Grand Master of the three antiques religious-military Orders (Order of Aviz, Order of Santiago, and Order of Christ). While ruling from Rio de Janeiro, he created knights of these orders among the new royal society of Brazil. The Order of Christ became the Brazilian highest Order, and the pinnacle of the new Brazilian nobility.
In 1821, King João I returned to Portugal and left his son D. Pedro I to rule Brazil in his stead. D. Pedro I declared himself Emperor of Brazil and declared the Brazil’s independence from Portugal in 1822. Following the independence, D. Pedro I bestowed the new Brazilian branch of the Order to national and foreigners supporters of his new empire. Since then, the Order had been awarded in both Brazil and Portugal.
In 1826, when D. Pedro I returned to Portugal and left his son D. Pedro II as regent of the empire, D. Pedro II became the Grand Master of the Brazilian Order’s branch until 1890.
In 1843 the Order was regulated and became a Brazilian national Order rewarding exceptional services to the state. However, it remained highly regarded by the nobility of Brazil and Portugal.
By the same time, the design of the Order also was modified; the suspension was changed by an Imperial Brazilian crown, and the surrounded wreath was composed of coffee and tobacco branches. Also, the color of the ribbon was changed from red to red with blue stripes edges. The Order displayed the same design for civilians and military personnel, either Brazilians or foreigners.
After 1861, the Order was conferred to recognize extraordinary services rendered for the conservation of Brazil's national independence and its public order, as well as services that aid the establishments of the public and the Roman Catholic Church.
The grades of the Order were three; Grand Cross, Commander, and Knight. The Grand Cross was limited to twelve bestowals, besides of the royal family and foreign nobility; while the Commander and Knight were unlimited.
Finally, the Order was rescinded by the government of the United States of Brazil in 1890, just after the overthrow of D. Pedro II.
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