The Order of the Redeemer or, in Greek, “Το Τάγμα του Σωτήρος” is the foremost order of merit in Greece. Interestingly, it not only is the first in order of precedence, it is also the first to be established after the revolution from Ottoman rule. Specifically, the Order was established in 1829 (the final year of the revolution) by Fourth National Assembly (Δ’ Εθνική Συνέλευση) in Argos. However, it was not awarded until 1833 when given to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, father of the new King of Greece, King Otto I.
Though decided upon in 1829 by a revolutionary assembly, it officially became an order of the country on May 20, 1833 by royal decree (ΦΕΚ 19, τ.Α΄από 20.1.1833).
It was so named as a constant reminder of the divine assistance to the liberation of the Greek people.
The Order of the Redeemer, even while Greece was a kingdom, never conferred nobility and always was an order of merit.
As with the rest of the Orders of the country, it is awarded in five classes: Grand Cross, Grand Commander, Commander, Gold Cross and Silver Cross.
The insignia of the Order has at its center an image of Jesus Christ the Redeemer encircled with the text “Η ΔΕΞΙΑ ΣΟΥ ΧΕΙΡ ΚΥΡΙΕ, ΔΕΔΟΞΑΣΤΑΙ ΕΝ ΙΣΧΥΙ” (“Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power”). On the reverse, the text reads “Η ΕΝ ΑΡΓΕΙ Δ΄ ΕΘΝΙΚΗ ΤΩΝ ΕΛΛΗΝΩΝ ΣΥΝΕΛΕΥΣΙΣ αωκθ΄” (“In Argos IV National Assembly of Greeks 1829″). The enameled center rests upon a white enameled cross over a wreath whose dexter half is of oak and the sinister of laurel. The stars of the Grand Cross and the Grand Commander have eight radiated points instead of the enameled cross.
Initially, the Order was awarded to those, Greeks and foreigners, who gave great service to the cause of Hellenic liberation. Today, it is awarded to Greek citizens who have provided an exemplary service to Greece or have distinguished themselves in some way. The Grand Cross of the Order is typically awarded to foreign heads of state.
The Presidency of the Hellenic Republic has a comprehensive website covering the history of this and the other orders of the country at http://www.presidency.gr/en/tagmaSwthr.htm
Note: images from the website of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic