Over many centuries the Constantinian Order has played an important role in defending the Roman Catholic faith. Successive Popes since the 12th century have issued Papal Bulls concerning the Order, its religious activities and function. The Pope and the Church has also expressed their gratitude and benevolence in Papal Appointments and many other ways during this long and historic relationship between the Order and the See of Saint Peter.
Significantly, the Papal Bull ‘Militantis Ecclesiae’ of Pope Clement XI in 1718, laid down new statutes of the Order and made provision for the appointment of a Cardinal Protector (the official representative of the Pope in the Order), as well as a Grand Prior. This Bull also reserved to the Apostolic See the right to involve itself in the Order’s affairs and its spiritual development and this has been confirmed and unchanged by almost every successive Pontiff.
Numerous Popes have been senior members of the Constantinian Order or have seen fit to appoint official papal representatives to the Order in the form of Cardinal Protectors. Cardinal de‘ Massimi (right) became the first Cardinal Protector by orderof Pope Clement X in 1672.
In 1687 Pope Innocent XI appointed Cardinal Gaspero Cavelerio to the post, before appointing Cardinal Albani – the future Pope Clement XI in 1690. Numerous other appointments to these posts were made in the years that followed.