Merit Cross "Piis Meritis" for Military Chaplains, Type III, Civil Division, I Class (for peacetime with white enamel 1917-1918)
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The “Piis Meritis” Cross was established by Emperor Franz II following the War of the 2nd Coalition (1799-1801) with France to reward military chaplains for their service. The decoration was conferred for extreme rigour and fulfilment of duties in the spiritual care of military personal on the battlefield, associated with danger or under enemy threat. This decoration ranked below the Military Merit Cross and above the Bravery Medals.
In 1911, that statutes were amended to retitle the golden cross to be the I Class and the silver cross became the II Class. It was also allowed to be rewarded in peacetime for many years of meritorious work an zealous work in the spiritual care of the military troops. The ribbons distinguished the war and peacetime awards. The ribbon for war time awards was the striped red and white ribbon, where the civil ribbon was pure white.
The Imperial resolution on December 5, 1916 by Emperor Karl I allowed for swords to be worn on the ribbon for achievements directly in the face of the enemy.
The Type I (1801-1859) crosses have italic style writing, blue enamel, and they were awarded on a ribbon with seven alternating stripes of white and red, with 4 white stripes and 3 red stripes.
The Type II (1859-1878) crosses have traditional type set letters, and the central enamel is white for the I Class. They were awarded on a ribbon with seven alternating stripes of white and red, with 4 white stripes and 3 red stripes.
The Type III (1911-1918) crosses were separated into war awards and peacetime awards, denoted by the ribbon.
The golden or I Class Merit Cross for Military Chaplains was only awarded a total of 73 and is therefore one of the rarest Austro-Hungarian awards.
The inscription PIIS MERITIS translate to “For Pious Merit.”
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