Order of Santiago

Order of Santiago
Orden de Santiago
Cross of Saint James.svg
The Cross of Saint James as used by the Order
TypeReligious Order of Honour and formerly a Military Order
Country Spain
Religious affiliationCatholic
Grand MasterKing of Spain
ESP Order of Santiago BAR.svg
Ribbon of the order
Sign of order, 17th century

The Order of Santiago (Galician: Orde de Santiago, Spanish: Orden de Santiago), also known as "The Order of St. James of the Sword," was founded in the 12th century, and owes its name to the national patron of Galicia and Spain, Santiago (St. James the Greater). Its initial objective was to protect the pilgrim of St. James' Way, to defend Christendom and to remove the Muslim Moors from the Iberian Peninsula.[1]

After the death of the Grand Master Alfonso de Cárdenas in 1493, the Catholic Monarchs incorporated the Order into the Spanish Crown. Pope Adrian VI forever united the office of grandmaster of Santiago to the crown in 1523.

The first Republic suppressed the Order in 1873 and, although it was re-established in the Restoration, it was reduced to a nobiliary institute of honorable character. It was ruled by a Superior Council dependent on the Ministry of War, which was also extinguished after the proclamation of the second Republic in 1931.

The Order of Santiago, together with the Calatrava, Alcántara and Montesa, was restored as a civil association with the kingship of Juan Carlos I with the character of a nobiliary, honorable, and religious organization that remains as such.

St. James's Cross

The Order's insignia is a red cross resembling a sword, with the shape of a fleur-de-lis on the hilt and the arms. The knights wore the cross stamped on the royal standard and white cape. The cross of the royal standard had a Mediterranean scallop in the center and another one at the end of each arm.

The three fleurs-de-lis represent the "honor without stain", which is in reference to the moral features of the Apostle's character.

The sword represents the chivalrous character of the apostle St. James and his martyr ways, since he was decapitated with a sword. It can also symbolize taking the sword in the name of Christ, in a certain sense.

It is said that its shape originated in the era of the Crusades, when the knights took with them small crosses with sharpened bottoms to stick them in the ground and carry out their daily devotions.

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