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700th Anniversary of the Founding of the Order of Christ

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About 700th Anniversary of the Founding of the Order of Christ

The celebration of the seven hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Order of Christ, featured in this philatelic issue of the CTT, is an important moment for raising awareness of Portuguese History. Today, the Military Order of Christ is the custodian of a long history as both an Honori c Order, an Order of Nobility and a Religious and Military Order. The origins of the Order of the Templars – "the Order of Poor Fellow- Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon" – are found in the early 12th century following the 1st Crusade, when the Order was established in the medieval County of Portugal to assist in the Reconquest and help establish the border in the area north of Santarém between the Mondego and Tagus rivers. The deep crisis faced by Knights Templar in their confrontation with the King of France, Philip IV, which led to Pope Clement V abolishing the order in 1314, was overcome in Portugal by the diplomatic initiative of King Dinis, who managed to save that part of the Order located in Portugal, transforming it, with papal consent (Bull Ad ea ex quibus, 14 March 1319, Pope John XXII), into the new Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Order became strongly linked to the Monarchy by the end of the Reconquest and its support would play a fundamental role in the maritime discoveries of Prince Henry the Navigator. Nonetheless, the status of the Order would subsequently vary signi cantly until the present day.

Today, the Order of Christ is an Honori c Order of the Portuguese Republic, integrating the various Old Military Orders (Tower and Sword, Christ, Avis and Sant'Iago da Espada), and with the President of the Republic sitting as the Grand Master of this and all Portuguese Honori c Orders. Headquartered at the Palácio de Belém, the order's activities are carried out within the scope of the Council of Old Military Orders, which, along with its respective Chairman, is appointed by the President of the Republic and is supported by the Secretary General of Honori c Orders. The Council is made up of both titular and honorary members who have been bestowed titles and honours such as the Grand Cross, Grand O cer, Commander, O cer and Knight or Lady. The Military Order of Christ is awarded to those who distinguish themselves for outstanding services to the country in the exercise of its sovereign functions, under the terms of Law 5/2011 of 2 March, which regulates the Portuguese Honori c Orders. Exploring its roots in the Crusades and the Reconquest of medieval Christendom and withstanding internal crises of the Church and political crises of the State, such as the Liberal Reforms and the Declaration of the Portuguese Republic, to this day the Order of Christ continues to re ect the spirit of its times, with a strong symbolic and institutional dimension that is deeply respected by citizens of our nation and abroad.

Jaime Gama
Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ
Chairman of the Old Military Orders