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After the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples, Charles transferred the headquartes of the Grand Magistry of the Constantinian Order to Naples and left the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza to his younger brother Philip (1748).

When Charles ascended to the Throne of Spain in 1759 he was forced to abdicate the Throne of Naples and Sicily due to political and dynastic reasons. Therefore, Charles of Bourbon, by royal decree of 6 October 1759 gave all Italian assets to his third son Ferdinand, and by an expressly separate act he also gave him the Grand Constantinian  Magistry as it is a Family Order  linked to successors and heirs of the Farnese ‘s  Trusteeship.

The Holy See clearly and explicity recognised the Bourbon family of Naples as holders of the Grand Constantinian Magistry by the Monitorium of 19 December 1763 issued by Clement XIII. Within this Monitorium, the Pope ordered the bishops  and all those who care for the souls not to create problems for the Knights of St. George in peaceful possessession of their privileges and mentioned previous Papal Bollas while insisting on the fact that in case of conflict with the ecclesiastic authority «it could only be addressed in the Apostolic Chamber». This general Monitorium was issued upon the request of the Knight Grand Cross of the Constantinian Order, Petraccone Caracciolo, Duke of Martina, also on behalf of the other Knights of Grand Cross, and it sets the punishments to those who don’t guard the privileges granted to the Order by the Bulls Sinceræ Fidei and Militantis Ecclesiæ issued respectively  by Innocent XII and Clement XI.

Moreover, during the Grand Magistry of Ferdinand IV  the Breve of Pious VI  Rerum humanarum conditio, of 24 March 1777 ratified the aggregation of all the assets of the suppressed Order of St. Antonio Viennese  existing in the Kingdom of Naples,  to the Constantinian Order.

There are many sources of positive law showing  “the family character” of the supreme dignity of the Grand Magistry, including a “Dispatch” of King Ferdinand IV dated March 8, 1796, that states  “(…) The King has taken into consideration the fact that in the Sacred Role of the King, there coexists two distinct qualities, that of the monarchy of the Two Sicilies and the other of the Grand Master of the Constantinian Order, which  form two independent Lordships, as for their  laws and prerogatives and for the privileges especially regarding  jurisdiction (…) the predecessors of the Grand Masters of this Order formed a Code of Constitutions called Statutes, in which you can see a clear desire to establish a Privativa Jurisdiction  for the Order itself and for the Knights and individuals, electing to this purpose a Supreme Magistral  Council for the knowledge of all  rights, prerogatives and causes  belonging to it.

HRH Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies

H.R.H. Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro, Grand Master of Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George

The Constantinian Order under the Grand Magistry  of H.M. Francis I had a period of prosperity and tranquility.

With the advent to the throne of Ferdinand II the Grand Magistry of the Order was reconfirmed in fact to the holder of the sovereignty of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies by the  papal Breve Maxima et præclarissima by Pius IX of the July 17, 1851.

The events following the unification of Italy, will mark the fate of the Family Bourbon Two Sicilies, even though the deepest feelings of the southern populations are  inextricably linked to them.

Francis II, the last king of the Two Sicilies, continued to hold the Grand Magistry  of the Constantinian  Order until his death on 27 December  1894. During his leadership he had received  the Breve Quæ rei Sacræ of 17 September 1863 by which the Blessed Pope Pius IX, because of the political  events of 1860 in Italy, stated that the Constantinian Church of Sant’Antonio Abate in Naples and all the Constantinian goods existing in the Kingdom were under the temporary dependence of  the Archbishop of Naples, until the Holy See decides differently. Francis II, meanwhile, had continued to grant the honors of the ancient Chilvaric Order to those who had remained close and loyal  to him, as well as to eminent and illustrious personalities of the Papal Court and other European Courts  met during their stay in Rome, when they were a guest of the Pope.

After 1860 the Constantinian Magistry was the only example of  a royal  independent power  free from any sovereign territorial  and internationally recognized.

The Grand Magistry of the Constantinian Order, by hereditary right held by the Head of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies,  was able to adapt to modern needs and develop more and more social assistance activities for the poors and charities, as well as the spiritual care of  Knights and Dames.

Particularly noteworthy are the activities carried out during the First and Second World War in favour of the injured, in fact the Members of the Order  offered their assistance  in the  hospitals of the largest cities: we can mention for all the Military Hospital of Naples, or activities aimed to help the work of the Red Cross.

The last sovereign of the Two Sicilies, died without direct descendants, and was succeeded by his brother Alfonso, Count of Caserta. Under his Magistry the Constantinian Order enjoyed a period of high esteem  because of the intense  relationships that the Order  had with the Holy See. Pope St. Pius X with his Breve of March 7, 1910  appointed Cardinal Domenico Ferrata  Protector of the Order and on 22  of March  1911 he approved the building  of the Church of Santa Maria a Capella, called the Crocelle in Naples, as headquarters of ‘the Order.    On April 7, 1911 and on April 2, 1913 he gave his  Placet to  magistral decrees which  granted special rights to the Ecclesiastic  Chaplains Knights of the Order. On  December 3 1913 he appointed Cardinal Francesco di Paola Cassetta as the new Protector of the Order.

Always under the Grand Magistry  of H.R.H.  Count of Caserta, the Constantinian Order played a leading role in the Pontifical Commission responsible for the celebrations to mark the sixteenth anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine, in which it was sanctioned the end of the persecutions of Christians and the freedom of worship on all the territories of the Empire.

With the agreement of Pope St. Pius X will, the Church of Santa Croce at Ponte Milvio in Rome was built (then elevated to the rank of minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in 1965). The Pope personally paid for its construction and chose the location where, according to tradition, the emperor Constantine sounded the trumpets to announce to the City the end of hostilities against Christians. In the Basilica there is a chapel dedicated to St. George the Martyr, protector of the Constantinian Order, made  thanks to the generosity of the Ecclesiastical  Knight Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.

For this  anniversary, the Grand Master H.R.H Count of Caserta  wanted to realize a reconstruction, as accurate as possible to the historical information, of the Costantinian Banner. This banner, made in red moiré silk embroidered with gold tinsel and semiprecious stones, supported by a pole topped by the bronze Monogram of Christ “XP”, was blessed on 29 December 1913, at the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican , by Pope St. Pius X in the presence of HRH Prince Ferdinand Pio, Duke of Calabria and son of the Grand Master, a representation of Dignitaries and the Knights of the Order. Currently the Constantine Banner  is kept in the office of the Grand Chancellery in Rome.

H.R.H.: the Grand Master, Count of Caserta,  received from Benedict XV the Breve for Futuram Rei memoriam on 13 December 1916, whereby the Pope, referring to a Breve of September 17, 1863, of his predecessor Blessed Pius IX, ordered to return to the Constantinian Order the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate in Naples and recognized the Grand Prior and his successors as the Abbot  of that Church with jurisdiction over the Constantinian Clergy for things concerning the Order. On July 9 1919  H.R.H. the Count of Caserta welcomed the decree of the Pope with which it was granted Privilegium Officiorum for the clergy of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order, also approving the changes made to the Statutes of the Order. Finally, with  the Breve  of June 9, 1919, he was appointed by the Pope as Protector of the Order in the person of Cardinal Vittorio Ranuzzi de’ Bianchi.

Upon the death of the Count of Caserta, his eldest son  H.R.H. Prince Ferdinand Pio, Duke of Calabria succeeded him as Head of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies who held the Grand Constantinian Magistry until his death in Lindau in Bavaria on 7 January 1960. A letter of May 24, 1943 by which the Pope Pius XII thanked H.R.H. the Duke of Calabria and all members of the Constantinian Order for their contribution to the  Church of St. Eugene in Rome, and gave the Grand Master and all Knights his Apostolic Blessing.

According to Ettore Gallo, with his experienced competende: “After a general and comparative anlysis and comparaison of the cited papal documents, the doctrine was able to make some important considerations: first of all the cntinual acknowledgement, as well as gratitude of the Holy See towards the Constantinian Order; moreover, the assegnment to  its Grand Master, referred to  many times in papal documents as “perpetuus administrator militiae Auratæ Constantinianæ” , of the powers to appoint the Knights, to lead the Order guide and interprete the ancient Farnese Statutes»[1].

After the Second World War, with the advent of the Republican Institution in Italy, the Constantinian Order of St. George and its Magistry find its citizenship in the new peninsular State as it is considered as a knightly and non-state order, and also dynastic and totally foreign to Italian law due to both its origin and its historical evolution.

H.R.H. Grand Master Ferdinand Pio was pleased because the honors granted by him on Italian territory were recognized  by Law no. 178/1951.

H.R.H. Prince Ranieri of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro succeeded as Grand Master and Head of the Royal House, to his brother  H.R.H. the Prince Ferdinad Pio, Duke of Calabria.  On June 17 1965 he reformed and promulgated the new Statutes of the Order; at the same time he prepared and promulgated, with a  Magistral Decree,  the heraldic rules to enter the Order.

H.R.H. Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Castro, assumed the Grand Constantinian Magistry on January 13, 1973, when he succeeded his father H.R.H. Prince Ranieri upon his death, until his own death at the  Domaine de la Combe on 20 March 2008. During the thirty-five years of his leadership of the Constantinian Knights and Ladies the Order evolved into a truly cosmopolitan dimension, creating Delegations in Italy and all over the world. The Italian Republic State Council on 26 November 1981 declared: “Even after the devolution to the state of  its material possessions, the Constantinian Order  remained a knightly, religious and military entity  in the familial heritage whose Head is now Charles, Duke of Castro.”

The Grand Master of the House of Bourbon Two Sicilies is the current Duke of Castro H.R.H. Prince Charles, who succeeded his father on March 20, 2008. He is recognized with the merit of increasing the activities of the Order with the birth of new Delegations, obtaining the approval of the activities of the Constantinian Knights and Dames by numerous Governments all over the world and especially the Prince’s efforts yielded the prestigious recognition of the Order at the United Nations with formal accreditation of the ancient equestrian Institution to the Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) in July 2011.




[1] – Ivi, p. 34.


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