Archive for the ‘Orthodox Orders’ Category.

Orders of the Serbian Orthodox Church



Like her sister churches in other countries, the Serbian Orthodox Church has a number of orders of merit it gives out to deserving people, in recognition for their services. Though there are a number of decorations the process for awarding them is similar across: the candidate needs to be recommended by a diocesan bishop to the Holy Synod that will, in turn, confer on the matter and decide.

For those who are not familiar with the Orthodox Communion, the highest authority within any particular Church is the Holy Synod and not any particular individual.


Order of St. Sava

The creation of these awards of merit started in 1985 with the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Sava, the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and its first Archbishop. It was at this time that the Holy Synod decided to create the Order of St. Sava in three classes:

  • The first class has the colors of the order being white
  • The second class has the colors of the order being red
  • The third class has the colors of the order being blue

To qualify for the next higher class, one must be in the previous one for at least three years. The brevet for the order is signed by either the Patriarch or his deputy.


Order of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming

This award was created in 2009 in honor of the Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja who lived in 12th century Serbia and was canonized under the name of St. Simeon the Myrrh-streaming due to the reported miracles attributed to him. The award is given to statesmen that have contributed to the improvement of relations between Church and state. This award is open to both Serbs and foreigners.


Order of St. Emperor Constantine

Honoring the life and enormous contributions to the Faith that St. Constantine the Great made, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church created the Order of St. Emperor Constantine. This high distinction is reserved for thos that have made great contributions to the freedom of religion and the promotion of human rights. There aren’t any nationality restrictions for the award


Order of the Holy King Milutin

Stephen Uroš II Milutin of Serbia was king of Serbia between 1282 to 1321 and managed to elevate his country to one of the most powerful states in the region. He also introduced much of the Byzantine culture to the kingdom and founded a large number of monasteries. Since King Milutin was such a great benefactor for Serbia, it is in his honor that this particular order was created in 2009 and it is meant to reward great philanthropists.


Order of St. Peter of Cetinje

Named after Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, this order was created in 2009 by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should not be confused with the order of the same name that is under the Royal House of Petrović-Njegoš (Montenegro).

This distinction is awarded in recognition of missionary work, evangelism, promoting peace and personal sacrifice.


Order of the Holy Empress Milica – Venerable Jevgenija

Named after Empress (Tsaritsa) Milica, wife of Serbian Prince Lazar, who is most famous for her poem of mourning for her husband “My Widowhood’s Bridegroom”. After the death of her husband, she became a nun under the name of Jevgenija. This particular award is given to those who have made outstanding contributions for the improvement of the lives of the poor, the sick, and the helpless.


Order of the Holy Despot Stefan Lazarevic

Named after the ruler of the Serbian Despotate between 1389 and 1427, he was the son of Prince Lazar and Empress Milica. He was an enlightened ruler and can be considered the one to have brought the Renaissance to the realm.

This distinction is awarded to those individuals who have made significant contributions to culture, where it be literature, poetry, the arts, etc.


It should be noted here again that the Holy Synod reserves the right to revoke any honor previously bestowed if the awardee violates in some way the Serbian Orthodox Church. It should also be stressed that the awarding of any Church award is not a form of salvation as the awardee must remain committed to the path of Christ and be an example to others.

All awards by the Holy Synod are gazetted in the official journal of the Serbian Orthodox Church.


Source: Very Reverend Protopresbyter Savo B. Jovic. “Ордени Српске Православне Цркве које додељује Свети Архијерејски Сабор, односно Свети Архијерејски Синод“. “Orthodoxy” newspaper of the Serbian Patriarchate.


Heraldic privileges of the Knights of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia

Order of the Eagle of GeorgiaInsignia of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia
(source: Georgian Heraldry blog)

Recently, I was honored to be admitted into the Order of the Eagle of Georgia and the Seamless Tunic of our Lord Jesus Christ (or Order of the Eagle of Georgia for short).

Naturally, as a heraldic enthusiast, my first question was “what are my heraldic privileges?”. The reason for the question was to understand how I can incorporate the Order (and my rank therein) into my achievement of arms. I know that some Orders allow their knights to place their shields atop the cross of the Order (such as the Order of St. John, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, etc.) while others allow a full ribbon or collar.

For reference, these are the ranks within the Order:

  • Grand Collar
  • Grand Cross
  • Grand Officer
  • Knight Commander
  • Knight

Unfortunately, no immediate answer was found nor was much published on the official site of the Royal House of Georgia and of the dynastic orders. Many were assuming/guessing but, nothing definitive while more than one person said that there weren’t any official heraldic rules instituted within the Order.

However, I felt that it couldn’t be the case. Especially considering that the Order has an office of Herald of the Order occupied by none other than José María de Montells y Galán, Viscount Portadei and one of the top heraldic experts in Spain. This prompted me to do further research.

In the end, I did find the information I needed by either inferring it or seeing it mentioned explicitly.

First of all, let’s cover the specific privileges of the various ranks of the Order of the Eagle:

  • Knights Grand Collar and Knights Grand Cross may encircle their arms with the Collar of the Order
  • Knights Grand Officer may use a circular ribbon 3/4 around their arms
  • Knights Commander and Knights may drape the medal of the Order beneath their arms

This was finally validated after a series of email exchanges with the Royal House of Georgia where it was also confirmed to me that there is a Georgian College of Arms!


Order of the Eagle of Georgia - Grand CollarGrand Collar of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia
(source: Official site of the Royal House of Georgia)

However, these privileges are not automatic.

As the Royal House mentioned to me in our email exchanges, the privilege is granted after a knight petitions the Grand Master in writing and the authorization is given, also in writing. This is the outline of the process:

  1. A formal request for the authorization to display the insignia of the Order with one’s arms needs to be submitted to the College of Arms. The petition includes the blazon of the arms along with any supporting documentation and other information available, as well as an image.
  2. The College of Arms reviews the petition and performs an investigation to confirm that the arms of the petitioner are unique and not claimed by any other knight of the Order and meet the criteria of the College.
  3. If the arms are found to meet the criteria of the College and, in their opinion, the petitioner is the legal owner of the arms the knight is invited to request to have his arms officially registered and confirmed with the College.
  4. Once the process of registration with the Georgian College of Arms is completed, then and only then is the written authorization to display the insignia granted. A signed document with this permission is mailed to the knight and a duplicate is kept in the Royal Archives.


The official site of the Royal House of Georgia is

Order of the Redeemer

Order of the Redeemer

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.

Star of the Order of the Redeemer

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

Note: images from the website of the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic

Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers

Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers

There are many quasi-orders and other self-styled Orders who use “Orthodox” in their name and claim to be under the protection of some Orthodox bishop or archbishop. Some claim to continue the Orthodox branch of some ancient Order. While others even go so far as to claim recognition by the Holy See in Rome! Perhaps the most notorious of all these Orders are those that claim some kind of descent from the famous Orders of the Crusades and in their names use such terms as “Templar” or “Hospitaller” or both.

The Order being presented today is none of the above. It is a very much bonafide Order but, its current status is questionable.

Before continuing, I would like to clarify that I tried contacting the government of the Republic of Cyprus through the country’s embassy in the United States, the Press Office of the government and the Office of the President of the Republic. Unfortunately, I never even received a form email saying that my message was received.

What is especially interesting about the Order of the Orthodox Hospitallers is that it has a purely Orthodox Order with an unquestionable fons honorum, something that has not always been the case with Orthodox Orders.

The Order was established in December of 1972 by His Beatitude Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus. The Archbishop was the head of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus which is in full communion with the other Orthodox Churches of the world. However, Archbishop Makarios was also the President of the Republic of Cyprus and as such, combined in his person both the highest spiritual and temporal power of the sovereign nation. This combination is not found anywhere else, with the best comparison being His Holiness the Pope.

It must be noted that the Order was not created as an Order of Chivalry and it does not confer nobility, in any way, to any of its members. Simply put, the Orthodox Church does not have a tradition of nobiliary corporation and the granting nation is a presidential republic.

The governance of the Order was established with the Grand Master being the Archbishop of Cyprus and the Temporal Protector the President of the Republic. The headquarters were set to be in the monastery of St. Barnabas, Famagusta (Αμμόχωστος). It should be noted that after the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, Famagusta (and thus the monastery) ended up on the Turkish occupied side of the now divided island. It is not clear what the status of the monastery and the headquarters of the Order is today. However, in Peter Bander van Duren’s “The Cross and the Sword” it is mentioned that the Turkish authorities have allowed the Order to retain the seat there. Personally, I find that to be highly implausible; especially knowing how the Turkish authorities have treated anything Greek or Orthodox in the north of the island.

The Order is a purely Orthodox one and has obtained the recognition of all the other heads of Orthodox Churches in communion with the Church of Cyprus. Furthermore, these Archbishops and Patriarchs are considered as the Spiritual Protectors of the Order within their territories. Membership in the Order is restricted strictly to those members of the Orthodox Church however, non-Orthodox may be recognized as Companions of the Order. Members and Companions have the Badge of Honor conferred upon them. The symbol of the Badge is simply a gold trimmed white enameld cross botonny. The higher levels have the text “FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF MANKIND” encircling the cross.

Companionships exist in three classes: Companion, Companion First Class and Companion with Star. It should be made clear that a companionship does not equate membership in the Order.

When Archbishop and President Makarios instituted the Order, he decreed that certain non-Orthodox personages receive the Companionship with Star automatically, these are: the Apostolic Pro-Nuncios to Cyprus and the UK, the Aglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Vicar General of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in Cyprus. He also believed strongly that the Order can be used to strengthen inter-faith and interdenominational relationships and suggested that perhaps the religious leaders of territories hosting large Orthodox communities should be honored.

Unfortunately, it is unclear what has happened to the Order since His Beatitude died in 1977 and a number of organizations have popped up claiming to be the continuation of it. However, none of them are headed by the Archbishop of Cyprus nor by the President of Cyprus and don’t include an explanation as to how this radical change occured. Peter Bander van Duren includes a picture of President Spyros Kyprianou, who succeeded His Beatitude, wearing the insignia of the Order and thus, one can infer that it was still in existence for at least a few years after Archbishop and President Makarios’ death.

As mentioned earlier, none of my attempts to get official information about the current status of the Order met with success. Hopefully, I will uncover some information in the near future.

Order of Saint Andrew – Archons

Archon crossThe Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle is one of the premier Orthodox Orders in the world and it is under the protection of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Members of this Order are not called Knights or Chevaliers (which is French for knight). Each member is called Archon (Άρχων; pl. Άρχοντες) which is Greek for “Ruler”. However, it must be noted that this Order is one of merit and not of chivalry.

The Order was created on March 10, 1966 when His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, as a representative of the then Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople. On this day, the first 30 members of the Order were honored with the title of Archon with the full support of Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople.

The Archons are not mere members of an organization whose only commitment is to pay an annual oblation and attend an event. Each Archon holds an Offikion (Οφφίκιον) or Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and acts in that capacity.

Though the 1966 act was not unique in the investiture of official Patriarchal offices upon laymen, it was unique in that it was done in such an organized matter. Historically, the Patriarch has bestowed an Offikion upon members of the Church as far back as the Byzantine era and continued until present. However, before the Order came into being, it was extremely limited to those very extraordinary laymen who also were able to visit the Patriarchate and were personally honored by the Patriarch.

Each of the Archons take an oath to defend and promote the Greek Orthodox faith and tradition with their work and treasure.

Below is a list of Offikions:

  • Grand Deputy (Μέγας Λογοθέτης)
  • Grand Orator (Μέγας Ρήτωρ)
  • Grand Archivist (Μέγας Χαρτοφύλαξ)
  • Grand Counselor (Μέγας Πρωτέκδικος)
  • Grand Liaison Officer (Μέγας Ρεφενδάριος)
  • Grand Notary (Μέγας Πρωτονοτάριος)
  • Grand Recorder (Μέγας Υπμνηματογράφος)
  • Grand Jurist (Μέγας Δικαιοφύλαξ)
  • Grand Lawkeeper (Μέγας Νομοπύλαξ)
  • Grand Overseer (Μέγας Ιερόμνημων)
  • Grand Sacristan (Μέγας Σκευοφύλαξ)
  • Recorder of the Court (Ακτουάριος)
  • Summoner (Δεπουτάτος)
  • Teacher of the Gospel (Διδάσκαλος του Ευαγγελίου)
  • Teacher of the Apostle (Διδάσκαλος του Αποστόλου)
  • Teacher of the People (Διδάσκαλος του Γένους)
  • Interpreter (Διερμηνεύς)
  • Counselor (Έκδικος)
  • Exarch (Έξαρχος)
  • Secretary (Χαρτοφύλαξ)
  • Archivist (Χαρτουλάριος)
  • Chaplain (Καστρίνσιος)
  • Overseer of the Holy Chrism (Μύρεψος)
  • Lawkeeper (Νομοφύλαξ)
  • Notary (Νοτάριος)
  • Commissioner for the Orphans (Ορφανοτρόφος)
  • Ostiary (Οστιάριος)
  • Lay Ecclesiarch (Πρίμικρος)

Important positions all of them that have maintained their significance for over a millennium. I am not going into details on each Offikion above as the Order’s official website is very comprehensive.

Along with their duties, the Archons are also very active in their pursuit to protect the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its rights in Turkey from an ever increasing zeal to take away more from it. Their attempts in promoting religious freedom, relaxing the overbearing controls on the Church and the return of the stolen properties have met mixed success.

It should be noted that a similar organization covering the members outside of the United States was created in 1991 called the Brotherhood of the Most Holy Lady Pammakaristos”.

The Order of Saint Andrew maintains a very informative and comprehensive website at