The Illustrious Royal Order of Saint Januarius (Italian: L'Insigne Reale Ordine di San Gennaro) is an order of knighthood bestowed by the head of the Royal House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies. It was the last great dynastic collar order to be constituted as a chivalric fraternity, with a limitation to Roman Catholics, and a direct attachment to the dynasty rather than the state.
The order continues to be bestowed today by the Head of the Royal House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies. The founder of the Order, Charles VII of Naples, who ruled from 1734 until 1759, was the first reigning monarch to reside in this kingdom since 1502. As a young monarch, Carlos was considerably influenced by his father Felipe V of Spain, who had proved a capable if erratic ruler, not only bringing peace to his kingdom but ultimately re-establishing Spanish influence in Italy. Although the Order's foundation had been planned for some time, the young king's marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony provided a suitable opportunity. Its statutes and foundation both date to 3 July 1738 and the first promotions to the Order were announced three days later. These statutes limited membership of the Order to sixty Roman Catholic noblemen, although non-Catholics have been admitted by successive Grand Masters in exceptional cases and the total complement of the Order has exceeded sixty on several occasions. As an Order of the collar and the highest Order of the Kingdom, it was intended to equal in rank that of the Golden Fleece, awarded by Charles' father in Spain, and that of the Holy Spirit, given by his cousin in France. Indeed, it was frequent practice for the princes of each branch of the House to receive all three Orders. As they had discussed in their correspondence, King Carlos reserved for his father the right to appoint up to six knights, emphasising the unity of the House of Bourbon.
The Catholic nature of the Order was particularly emphasised in the statutes, which limited the membership to sixty. Article VII laid out the obligations of the knights, beginning with the invocation to the knights to be ready to defend the glory and honour of the Holy Catholic faith at any cost. Knights were required to procure conciliation between members of the Order in dispute with each other; to swear inviolable loyalty to the Grand Master; to try to attend daily Mass; to take Communion at Easter and on the Feast of Saint Januarius; to celebrate a Mass for the souls of deceased knights; not to offer or accept a challenge to a duel but refer the dispute to the Grand Master for his decision; and to attend the chapels of the Order, ranking according to seniority by date of reception. The Pope, Benedict XIV, confirmed the foundation of the Order in a papal bull of 30 May 1741, whose provisions were then slightly modified in a second bull issued 27 July of the same year. The dynastic and religious character of the Order and the papal authority given to its foundation purportedly served to protect it from abolition by the government of Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy in 1860.
King Carlos VII inherited the Spanish Crown as King Carlos III on 10 August 1759. By Article II of the Treaty of Naples of 3 October of that year, he was required to establish the Infante D. Ferdinando, his second son (third-born since the exclusion of the eldest who was severely retarded), as King of the Two Sicilies. The new sovereign received the Crown of Naples and Sicily as Ferdinando IV of Naples and III of Sicily (later, after the reunion of both the kingdoms, Ferdinando I delle Due Sicilie) by the Pragmatic Decree of 6 October 1759. This ordained that the succession should pass by male primogeniture among the descendants of King Ferdinando or, failing them, of his younger brothers, unless the Spanish crown should be united with the Sovereignty of the Two Sicilies, in which case the latter had to be ceded to a son, grandson or great-grandson of the prince who so combined both successions. In the event of the male heirs of King Carlos III becoming extinct, the Two Sicilies Crown would pass to the nearest female heiress of the last King.
Originally the order had four principal officers whose duties were to administer its affairs:
These duties were limited by a reform of August 17, 1827 to certain ceremonial roles at the installation of knights, and no successors were appointed to the then holders of these offices.
King Carlo continued to make appointments to the order after leaving Naples, treating it as the second order of his new kingdom while still conferring it upon his former Italian subjects, until he passed the title of grand master to his son, Ferdinand IV and III of Naples and Sicily, on 9 December 1766.
Between the death of King Francis II on 27 December 1894 and the death of the Count of Caserta on May 26, 1934, only thirty-one appointments were made.
Since 1960, the order has been awarded sparingly and total membership has not exceeded eighty, most of the knights being members of royal houses, senior officers of the Constantinian Order or Italian Grandees.
The Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria, and his late father both followed the example of the nineteenth century sovereigns of the Two Sicilies in awarding the order not only to the heads of other royal houses (or reigning sovereigns), but also to their closest advisers, several of whom also hold high office in the Constantinian Order.
The badge, worn suspended from a red riband 100 mm in width over the right shoulder across to the left hip, is a gold, eight-pointed Maltese cross in white enamel with red and gold rays extending along the arms, four gold fleur-de-lis between each arm and the gold image of the Bishop-Martyr Saint Januarius in red, white and blue enamel episcopal vestments rising from a gold cloud and holding in his left hand the open gospels on which rests two phials of his blood. The breast star is a silver, four-pointed star with the fleur-de-lis between the arms and the same image of the Bishop-Martyr as on the badge but with the motto (in gold on blue enamel), IN SANGUINE FOEDUS ("in blood, union") instead of the gold clouds.
The collar of the Order is composed of eighteen gold links between which alternate eight gold fleur de lis, two ornaments composed of the white enamel letter “C” (for “Carlo”) charged on two crossed white enamelled flags (for the Bourbons) on green enamelled leaves, two ornaments composed of a gold and black enamel castellated tower charged on crossed white and red enamelled flags, two ornaments composed of the open gospels in gold on which rest two phials of the Martyr’s blood in red enamel and placed upon green palm fronds, two ornaments composed of a crossed bishop’s crosier and chalice with the Blessed Sacrament all in gold, and one ornament (at the back of the collar) composed of a crowned and armed lion passant mounted on two crossed banners of red and white enamel. In the centre of the collar is a red enamelled bishop’s mitre over a cross and crosier from which is suspended the badge of the Order in gold and enamel. There is also a miniature collar composed of a pair of each of the C, tower and gospels ornaments between three pairs of fleurs-de-lis with the mitre and badge suspended from the centre. The miniature decoration is composed of the badge and mitre suspended from a red ribbon, while there is also a red buttonhole rosette (with the badge mounted in the centre). Officers of the Order who are not knights wear the same decorations but without the collar and with the image of the Bishop Martyr charged on the star in silver and enamels, instead of gold. Some antique breast stars and some modern stars, show the image of the saint in yellow enamel mitre and vestments. Since 24 March 1817, a regulation of the Order has accorded the title of “Excellency” and “D.” to all the members.