Order of Christ (Brazil)

For Portuguese order of knighthood, see Order of Christ (Portugal). For Papal order of knighthood, see Supreme Order of Christ.
Order of Christ
Ordem de Cristo
Badge and star of the Imperial Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Awarded by Empire of Brazil
Type Till 1843: Military Order
From 1843 to 1890: National Order
Since 1890: House Order
Status Cancelled as national order in 1890, since then claimed as house order
Grand Master Emperors of Brazil (Dom Pedro I and Dom Pedro II)
Principal Commander Heir of the Imperial Crown of Brazil. In 1889 Dona Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil.
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Knight Grand Cross, Knight Commander and Knight.[1]
Established Created in 1319 by Portugal and Holy See. Imperial branch established in 1822
Next (higher) none (highest)
Next (lower) Imperial Order of Aviz
Ribbon bar of the Order

The Imperial Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Portuguese: Imperial Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo), simply named Order of Christ, is an order of chivalry instituted by emperor Pedro I of Brazil on 7 December 1822, on the basis of the Portuguese Order of Christ founded by King Dom Dinis and Pope John XXII in 13161319. Knights of the Order of Christ were part of the untitled nobility of the Empire of Brazil. The order was awarded for exceptional services that resulted in notable and proven utility to religion (Roman Catholicism), to humanity and the state.

On 22 March 1890, the order was cancelled as national order by the interim government of United States of Brazil.

However, since the deposition in 1889 of the last Brazilian monarch, Emperor Pedro II, the order is claimed as a house order being awarded by the Heads of the House of Orleans-Braganza, pretenders to the defunct throne of Brazil. The current Brazilian Imperial Family is split into two branches, Petrópolis and Vassouras, and the Grand Mastership of the Order is disputed between those two branches.


After the Independence of Brazil emperor Dom Pedro I continued his inherent authority as the “fount of honors” transmitted by his father King Dom João VI of Portugal. His right extended to conferring titles of nobility and also the three ancient Portuguese orders of chivalry: Order of Christ, Order of Aviz and the Order of Saint James of the Sword.[2] Dom Pedro I became the first Grand Master of the Brazilian branch of the Order of Christ. According to historian Roderick J. Barman, Dom Pedro I stated in a decree that his right originated in: “Sovereign Kings my Predecessors, … and especially by my August and Sovereign Father D. João VI.”[2] After the death of his father, Dom Pedro I also became the Grand Master of the Portuguese Order of Christ as King Pedro IV of Portugal.

Description of the Order of Christ in the Almanak Laemmert, court almanac published in 1889:

Created by King Dom Dinis, in 1316. Preserved as a Brazilian order by the law of October 20, 1823. Regulated by decree n. 321 of September 9, 1843. Also decree n. 2853 of December 7, 1861. This order has 12 Grand crosses (treatment of Excellency), not included in these numbers the members of the Imperial family and the princes and foreign citizens; Commanders and Knights are without a set number. The Emperor is the Grand Master; the heir of the Crown is the Major-Commander.[3]

Reform of 1843

Knights of Christ in Rio de Janeiro during the reign of Dom Pedro I.

In 1834 the Portuguese Order of Christ was reformed by the Liberal government of Portugal and Queen Maria II (sister of Emperor Dom Pedro II). The order lost its military prerogatives with the reform and became a national order. As such the Brazilian branch of the Order of Christ was the only branch that maintained its military status. In 1843 the Brazilian branch was also reformed by Emperor Dom Pedro II and became a national order with decree N. 2853.[4] As such the Order of Christ ended its existence as a military order both in Portugal and Brazil; however the order remained highly regarded by the nobility of Brazil and Portugal as a result of its importance to history and the prestige that it provided to knights. Members of all Brazilian orders of knighthood were part of the untitled nobility regardless of grade,[5] depending on the knight's grade they also received military honors, salutes and honorific styles.[6]


It was considered relevant and extraordinary services for admittance into all imperial orders after 1861 the following services:

Military Funeral of a Knight of Christ in Rio de Janeiro during the reign of Dom Pedro I.

Basically all services that resulted in notable and proven utility to religion, to humanity and the state, that were provided during public, ecclesiastical or military functions; be it in science, letters, arts or industry.[7]

Forms of Admission

There were two ways to be admitted to the Order of Christ after the reform of 1861, they were:

Requirements for admission

If filing a petition, the following requirements had to be completed:[7]

Loss of Knighthood

Membership into the order was given for life, however, members could be expelled from the order if: a member lost his Brazilian citizenship for breaking articles 2, 3 or 7 of the Imperial constitution; if guilty of a criminal offence; if the individual lost his post in the Guarda Nacional as a result of a criminal offence; and if the individual committed a political crime that resulted in the loss of political rights.[8]


The decoration of a military knight (front)

The Order of Christ was issued in three grades:

The order had a limit of 12 Grand Crosses, not included in this numbers the members of the Brazilian Imperial Family (grand crosses) and the princes and foreign citizens. There was no maximum numbers set for Commanders and Knights.[1]


The insignia were basically the same as the Portuguese Order of the same name, with the addition of a stylized Imperial Crown of Brazil to the badge and a different ribbon to distinguish it from the Portuguese Order.

Knights of the Order of Christ

See also


  1. 1 2 Sauer 1889, p. 94.
  2. 1 2 Barman 1988, p. 102.
  3. Sauer (1889), p. 94.
  4. Sauer 1862, p. Supl. 96.
  5. Barman 1999, p. 11.
  6. Sauer 1889, p. 90.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sauer 1862, p. Supl. 99.
  8. Sauer 1862, p. Supl. 100.


  • Barman, Roderick J. (1999). Citizen Emperor: Pedro II and the Making of Brazil, 1825–1891. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3510-7. 
  • Barman, Roderick J. (1988). Brazil: The Forging of a Nation, 1798–1852. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1437-1. 
  • Sauer, Arthur. Almanak Administrativo, Mercantil e Industrial (Almanaque Laemmert). Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert & C., 1889. (Portuguese)
  • Sauer, Arthur. Almanak Administrativo, Mercantil e Industrial (Almanaque Laemmert). Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert & C., 1862. (Portuguese)
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