1 - Knight
in Italian: Cavaliere dell'Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata
insignia is the grand collar
Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation is the highest order of
chivalry given by the Royal House of Savoy. During the Kingdom of
Italy period, it was also the highest order of that kingdom. The
heereditary sovereign head and Grand Master of the order is H.R.H.
the Duke of Savoy, Prince of Naples.
Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy instituted the order under the name of
"Order of the Collar." Though its present Marian name had
not yet been adopted, the original order was dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin Mary celebrated as "Our Lady of the Annunciation."
Originally the order had only fifteen knights, symbolic of the number
of daily masses celebrated within the order. From then on, the order
has continually been amended, even up to the 20th century with
changes made by H.R.H. Prince Vittorio Emmanuele.
the Royal House of Savoy
the order was reserved exclusively to distinguished military men. In
addition to exemplary service, they had to be of Catholic and noble
birth. Eventaully this requirement was amended to admit those who,
though not of noble birth, had rendered distinguished service to the
Kingdom of Italy or, since the fall of the Kingdom, to the House of
Savoy itself. However, members still were generally required to be
Catholic, though non-Catholics may be made honorary members of the
order in rare cases. Today the number of knights are, as in the past,
twenty. Knights must have already been awarded the Order of Saints
Maurice and Lazarus.
the current status of the Order, a Law of the Italian Republic of 3
March 1951, n. 178, art. 9 reads: The Order of the Most Holy
Annunciation and the relative insignia are suppressed. The Order of
the Crown of Italy is suppressed and the award of the Order of Saints
Maurice and Lazarus ceases. Awards which were already bestowed may,
however, continue to be worn, but with all precedence in public
ceremonies now excluded. There will be a separate law for other
Orders and awards instituted before 2 June 1946. On this Pier
Felice degli Uberti remarks "This law of the Republic could not
in fact suppress the Order, since its original creation and the papal
bulls confirming it placed it outside Italian jurisdiction; the
authority of the Italian Republic could not extend beyond prohibiting
it from being worn in Italy by Italian citizens. In 1962, the Italian
Court of Cassation dismissed a prosecution brought against King
Umberto II (who was in any case living in a permanent exile, imposed
by the Italian republican constitution), on the grounds that Italy
could not legally prevent the King from conferring the Order."
Much dispute exists to this day between the Republic of Italy and the
House of Savoy. This dispute includes the ownership of the Crown
Jewels, among other things.