Imperial Order of Saint Catherine
Императорский Орден Святой Екатерины
Order of St Ekaterin Star.jpg
Star of the order.
Awarded by Head of the House of Romanov (claimant)
TypeDynastic Order
Royal houseHouse of Romanov
Religious affiliationRussian Orthodox
RibbonRed with Silver thread on either side.
Motto"For Love and Fatherland"
Eligibilitywomen
StatusRarely constituted
SovereignHead of the House of Romanov
Grand MistressGrand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia (disputed)
GradesDame Grand Cross
Dame
Precedence
Next (higher)Imperial Order of Saint Andrew
Next (lower)Imperial Order of the White Eagle
EquivalentImperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky
Order Saint Catherine.png

Ribbon of the order

The Imperial Order of Saint Catherine (Russian: Императорский Орден Святой Екатерины) was an award of Imperial Russia. Instituted on 24 November 1714 by Peter the Great on the occasion of his marriage to Catherine I of Russia. For the majority of the time of Imperial Russia, it was the only award for women; the Insignia of Saint Olga existed briefly from 1916 to 1917, but ceased with the fall of the Romanov dynasty.

The statutes of the Order were first published in 1713, and the order was under the patronage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of the Empress. On 24 November 1714, on the Empress' name day, Peter the Great personally bestowed the insignia of the Order upon the Empress Catherine, creating her Grand Mistress of the Order. However, no further members were inducted until 1726. The last Grand Mistress of the order before the 1917 revolution was Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. She retained the position in pretence until her death in 1928. Today, the self-proclaimed Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, granddaughter of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, claims to be the Grand Mistress of the Order by Burke's World Orders of Knightood and Merit,[1] and by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry.[2] This right is disputed by the vast majority of members of the Romanov Family Association.

Classes

The award was bestowed in two classes:

Insignia

Membership

Greater Cross: Badge
Greater Cross: Badge

Every Russian Grand Duchess was conferred the Grand Cross of the Order at her christening (or marriage into the Romanov family), and Princesses of the Imperial Blood were invested upon attaining their majority at 18.

In addition to the royal members, a fixed number (106) of other members were permitted by the statutes:

The 12 Dames Grand Cross were typically female members of foreign ruling houses. Queen Alexandra of Great Britain was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Catherine by Alexander II, and Princess Alice of Greece was also a member of the Order.

The only known award of the order to a male was in 1727 to then 13-year-old prince Alexander Menshikov, son of Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov, closest friend of Emperor Peter I of Russia.

The Dames Small Cross were all women of the highest nobility, who were part of the suite of the Empress and had engaged in important philanthropic or charitable works outside of their duties at Court.

Annual function

Replica of Catherine II's wedding dress (1745) featuring the scarlet sash of the Order of Saint Catherine
Replica of Catherine II's wedding dress (1745) featuring the scarlet sash of the Order of Saint Catherine

The Order of Saint Catherine's annual function was held on 24 November [O.S. 7 December], the feast day of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The Order met for a celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Then, wearing the robes and the insignia of the Order, the women of the Imperial Family, followed by the 106 Dames Grand and Small Cross would go in procession from the Imperial Chapel to a banqueting hall specially prepared for the occasion. The Hall of Saint Catherine in the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow was used for these occasions. The coloring and decoration of the hall incorporate those of the Order. The hall also served as the throne room for the Empress Consort. To this day, in the Russian Federation uses this room to receive foreign dignitaries.

See also

References

  1. ^ Sainty, Guy. Burke's World Orders of Knighthood and Merit. Burke's Peerage. ISBN 0971196672.
  2. ^ ""Register of Orders of Chivalry: Report of the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry; 2016"" (PDF). icocregister.org. Retrieved 27 November 2021.