Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
An honor conferred by the Holy See on lay people who deserve special recognition for their service to the Church. A bishop recommends a person for the honor, which, if granted, is then conferred either in Rome or in the home diocese. Papal orders of knighthood (which may also be conferred on women) are mainly, in sequence of importance: 1. Supreme Order of Christ; 2. Order of Pius IX; 3. Order of St. Gregory the Great; 4. Order of St. Sylvester; 5. Order of the Golden Militia or Golden Spur; 6. Order of the Holy Sepulcher. Other pontifical decorations include various medals, e.g., Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Benemerenti, and of the Holy Land. A number of offices at the papal court are accompanied by the title of count. Bishops' assistants at the papal throne have traditionally been considered Roman counts.