Christ, Order Of, Knights of The
Christ, Order Of, Knights Of The.
After the abolition of the order of Knights Templars, in 1312, king Dionysius of Portugal left to such as resided in his dominions a large share of their estates, and in 1317 reconstituted them into a new spiritual order of "Knights of Christ." It was sanctioned by Pope John XXII on condition of obedience to the papal see. He also instituted a branch of the order in the Papal States. The knights were secularized in Portugal in 1789, and divided into three classes: "great crosses," of which there were 6; "commanders," numbering 450; and knights, the number of which was unlimited. The distinctive marks of the order are a golden cross, carved and ornamented with red enamel, the ends terminating in two points; a scarlet band, which, by the papal knights, is carried around the neck. The Portugal grand crosses wear a particular dress on great occasions, with a golden chain wound three times around the neck, but which is usually thrown across the shoulder from right to left; a band; and on the breast a star, containing in its center the cross of the order. The commanders and knights wear a similar but smaller cross, the former in a star and on the breast, with the band; the latter pending from the button-hole, and without the star. As a religious order, they have been suppressed, with all such orders, in Portugal. — Pierer, Universal-Lexikon, s.v.; Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.