Friday, August 30, 2019

Legacy of the Royal Order of St. Stephen

PATRIARCHAL SEE 30 August 2019 (ORCNS) - The Royal Order of St. Stephen is a religious and dynastic order of chivalry within the Anglo-Italian Imperial Patriarchate (Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church) as successors to Countess Matilda, Margravine of Tuscany and Vice-Queen of Italy in the Holy Roman Empire and Pope Leo X de' Medici. The order is under the hereditary protection of the Royal House of Etruria in the Holy Roman Empire. It is typically awarded for specific service to the House, as well as to recognize persons of noble lineage for exceptional and selfless service to the Church, their professions, their communities, non-profit service organizations, or humanity in general. The order particularly represents the titular territories within the Patriarchal patrimony of Würzburg/Franconia, Valais, Florence, and Tuscany.
Cosimo I de' Medici,
Grand Duke of Tuscany

The order, one of several orders dedicated to one of several Saints by the name of Stephen, traces its roots back to the Military Order of St. Stephen I, Pope & Martyr, founded by the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I, in 1561. Following the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737, the Tuscan order was part of the Habsburg Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the Holy Roman Empire. The Habsburgs also founded a Hungarian Order of St. Stephen I, in memory of the Hungarian King Stephen I. After the expulsion of the Habsburgs from Tuscany by Napoleon on 3 August 1801, the territory was renamed the Kingdom of Etruria (deriving from the ancient Etruscans, Etruria is synonymous with Tuscany and was the Latin form). The kingdom maintained the Tuscan Order of St. Stephen until its dissolution in 1807. The Holy Roman Empire having been illegally dissolved by the Habsburgs, a new Grand Duchy of Tuscany was formed in 1814 as a satellite of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. They likewise maintained a Tuscan Order of St. Stephen.
Bosone d'Arles, King of Lower Burgundy & Provence,
Vice-King of Italy (left) with an image of St. Stephen
the Deacon at the Abbey of Charlieu, Burgundy
The Royal Order of St. Stephen under the Imperial Patriarchate is a successor to the original Medici Tuscan Order as a religious and dynastic order under ecclesiastical authority in succession from both Matilda, Margravine of Tuscany and Pope Leo X. However, the Royal Order changed its patron saint to St. Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr. This was in part to differentiate it, pointing to its origins in the early days of the Tuscan order. St. Stephen was the saint in whose honour the Basilica of Arles was
Sash and medal of a
Knight Grand Cross of
the Royal Order of St. Stephen
dedicated, with Arles/Burgundy being the origin of the early rulers of Tuscany and Italy from whom the line of the Etrurian and Florentine household descends. Since Stephen the Deacon was also an important saint in Tuscany and the Imperial Patriarchate is dedicated to his eternal memory. An important feast of St. Stephen the Deacon is 3 August, the day that the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was ended in favour of the Kingdom of Etruria. Additionally, St. Stephen I, Pope and Martyr was archdeacon to his predecessor as pope. As St. Stephen the Deacon is patron saint of deacons, the dedication of the Royal Order to him also retains the legacy of St. Stephen I the Pope.

Matilda, Margravine
of Tuscany
The order is given in two divisions, Civil and ecclesiastical, and three ranks, Knight or Dame of Honour (limited to 100), Grand Cross (limited to 50), and Grand Collar (limited to 25). Also, the Oblates Regular of Saint Stephen for the Help of the Poor are the professed knights and dames of the order. The Patron Saint of the Order is Saint Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr. The feast day known as the Invention of Saint Stephen, on which the Saint's body was found, occurs on the third of August, the day on which the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was formally ended in favour of the Kingdom of Etruria. The insignia consists of a red cross for the blessed martyr Stephen. In between the four points of the cross are gold eagles, taken from the Santa Croce Badge found in the Etrurian and Patriarchal flag, coat of arms, and other symbols. The ribbon of a Knight or Dame of Honour is solid red. The ribbon of Knights and Dames of the Grand Cross is red and white, taken from the colours of the patrimony of the Imperial Patriarchate in Valais, Würzburg/Franconia, Florence, and Tuscany, as well as the colours of the Spanish House of Ivrea and the Burgundian House of Arles, of which the Patriarchate is successor in Imperial Italy.