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Kimon Alexander Andreou Vergara
There are many orders of chivalry, knighthood or merit in the world. Some of them are completely secular, such as the Légion d’honneur of France while others are completely religious and tied to a specific church such as the Papal Order of Christ.
The insignia above are those of a knight of the Légion d’honneur (on the left) and the star and badge of the Order of Christ.
The majority of orders are somewhere in between though one can argue that almost all of them have a religious aspect to them. Some, of course, more than others.
One thing that differentiates the Orthodox Orders from all the others is, as the name implies, their foundation on Eastern Orthodox Christianity and under the spiritual protection of one of the Orthodox Patriarchates or Autocephalous Churches. There is a debate in the West on whether the heads of any of these Churches or even the Ecumenical Patriarch have the fons honorum to establish an Order of Chivalry however in the East they always enjoyed a sovereign status and continue to do so to this day. Regardless though, the notion of a religious Order of Chivalry is a foreign concept to the Eastern Churches; however, in the past century or so they have started giving out awards that even though they may resemble a knightly Order, they are clearly Orders of Merit. One of these meritorious Orders is the Order of St. Andrew or Archons under the auspice of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constaninople.
Naturally, the Orthodox lands have had royal sovereigns to rule them and in their capacity as sovereigns, with a font honorum that cannot be disputed, had or have instituted Orders of Chivalry under their Grand Mastership and the spiritual protection of their Archbishop or Patriarch. Perhaps the most widely known Orthodox sovereigns were the Czars of the Russian Empire who where under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness the Patriarch of All Russia. Though, it must be noted that there were many other Orthodox sovereigns that were either completely independent or autonomous and under a greater and more powerful king/emperor.
Since there is so much written about all the non-Orthodox Orders while very little, if anything, about the Orthodox ones, we’ll be examining them one at a time as my research completes for each. I hope you enjoy this journey and if you can contribute or correct anything, please comment or contact me!