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The Royal Order of the Seraphim
Kungliga Serafimerorden
Star of the order
Awarded by Commandsign King of Sweden.svg The Monarch of Sweden
Type Single grade order of merit
Motto Iesus Hominum Salvator
Day 28 April
Eligibility Until 1975: Swedish and foreign persons
Since 1975: Foreign heads of state or other foreigners of equivalent rank, members of the Swedish Royal Family
Awarded for For services to Sweden
Status Currently constituted
Grand Master His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Chancellor Ingemar Eliasson
Grades (w/ post-nominals) Knight/Member and Commander (RoKavKMO/LoKavKMO)
Member of the Cloth
Knight/Member (RSerafO/LSerafO)
Established 1748
First induction 1748
Next (higher) None (highest)
Next (lower) Order of the Polar Star
Order of the Seraphim - Ribbon bar.svg
Ribbon bar of the Royal Order of the Seraphim

The Royal Order of the Seraphim (Swedish Kungliga Serafimerorden) (Seraphim being a category of Angels) is a Swedish Royal order of chivalry created by King Frederick I of Sweden on 23 February 1748, together with the Order of the Sword and the Order of the Polar Star. After the reorganization of the orders in 1975 the order is only awarded to foreign heads of state and members of the royal family (the last non-royal Swedish holder was Sten Rudholm). The order has only one class with the dignity of Knight (Member for women and Member of the Cloth for clergymen), and is the foremost order of Sweden.

The three above mentioned Orders together with the Order of Vasa form the Orders of His Majesty the King [1] (Swedish Kungl. Maj:ts Orden), a term also used for the chancellery of the Orders in the Royal Palace. A Swedish Knight (Member/of the Cloth) of the Order of the Seraphim is not referred to as a Knight (Member/of the Cloth) of the Seraphim, but rather as a Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King (Swedish: Riddare och Kommendör av Kunglig Majestäts Orden). This form is used due to the fact that the Swedish word orden is an old plural form which indicates that a knight has to be a Commander Grand Cross or 1st Class of at least one of the other Swedish Orders. Foreign Knights are for the greater part Knights of the Order of the Seraphim. A Knight of the Order may be styled "Herr" + surname, which used to be the formal style for Swedish secular Knights (untitled high-ranking noblemen) appointed by the Swedish King, a practice that ceased in the 17th Century.

When a knight of the Order dies, his coat of arms is hung in the former royal burial church Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm, and when the funeral takes place the church bells are rung constantly from 12:00 to 13:00.



The first set of statutes described the Order as "revived", but this is unsubstantiated. No Swedish sources account for an ancient Order of the Seraphim.

The medieval custom of new crowned monarchs dubbing knights at their coronations[2] as a way of specially honoring particular noblemen was apparently accompanied in Sweden with the gift of a chain apparently specially designed for the occasion. These chains did not indicate the initiation into an order of chivalry as this is usually understood, since the bestowal of a chain of a particular design only occurred at a particular coronation and was not repeated at any other coronations or royal event. The description of some of these chains from the some of pre-Vasa coronations states that they consisted of alternating link of seraphim heads and patriarchal crosses, thus perhaps creating the later impression that there had been an earlier order of the Seraphim of which the 1748 order was seen as a revival. It seems reasonable to assume, at very least, that the accounts of these earlier knightly collars influenced the choice of design for the collar of the 1748 order.

This medieval custom survived into the period of the Vasa dynasty as well, for Eric XIV is known to have bestowed an Order of the Lamb of God at his coronation in 1561. Similarly, John III had bestowed the Order of the Name of Jesus in 1569. It is noteworthy that a contemporary representation of this order shows a collar of alternating red-enameled seraphim heads and gold patriarchal crosses from which hangs a as pendant an oval badge enameled blue and bearing the Greek letters of the Christogram IHS (the initials of the name of Jesus in Greek) with a cross above and the three nails of the Passion below between the three crowns of the Swedish royal arms—the same as the central medallion of the latter Order of the Seraphim.[3] King Charles IX of Sweden bestowed the Royal Order of Jehova or Jehova Orderat his coronation in 1606—perhaps as Calvinist alternative or reaction to the Catholic devotion to the Name of Jesus implied in his brother’s coronation order. Charles X Gustav’s Order of the Saviour took the form of a similar circular medallion bearing the letters IHS in diamonds surrounded by a border of diamonds in the center of a cross formed of four enameled Vasa sheaves and hanging from a pink ribbon worn around the neck, of which one example survives in the collections of the Royal Armory.[4]

The French Order of the Holy Spirit may have inspired the idea of placing the earlier medallion of the Name of Jesus in the center of a white enameled Maltese cross with gold Seraphim heads between the arms of this cross guarding this medallion with their wings, just as the French order bore the white dove of the Holy Spirit surrounded by green flames on similar white Maltese cross. Also like the French royal orders of chivalry the breast stars of the Swedish orders similarly took the form of silver stars.


Collar and badge of the Order of the Seraphim

Knights and Members of the Order wear the badge on a collar (chain) or on a sash from the right shoulder, and the star on the left chest:

  • The badge of the Order is a white-enamelled gilt Maltese Cross, with a gilt patriarchal cross on each arm of the cross, and gilt seraphim between the arms of the cross. The obverse central disc is in blue enamel, with a white-enamelled "IHS" Christogram amongst Three Crowns; beneath this are three nails with which Jesus Christ was crucified. The reverse central disc is also in blue enamel, with white-enamelled letters "FRS" (Fredericus, Rex Sueciae, Frederick King of Sweden). The badge is topped by a gilt crown.
  • The star of the Order is the same as the obverse of the badge, except the crosses and seraphim are in silver and without enamel, and is not topped by a crown.
  • The ribbon (sash) of the Order is pale blue, referred to in Sweden as seraphim blue.

External links


  1. ^ Royal Court of Sweden "The Royal Court of Sweden designates the orders as being Order of Knights and the Orders is in english designates as Orders of His Majesty the King"
  2. ^ For an English parallel see Order of the Bath in Sir Ivan De la Bere (1964). THE QUEEN'S ORDERS OF CHIVALRY (rev. ed.). London: Spring Books.
  3. ^ Favine, Andrew (1623). The Theatre of Honour and Knighthood. Translated from the French.
  4. ^ Conforti, Michael and Guy Walton (eds.). Sweden: A Royal Treasury 1550-1700. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1988 Exhibition catalogue.
  • (Swedish) Per Nordenvall, Kungliga Serafimerorden 1748–1998. Stockholm : Kungl. Maj:ts orden, 1998. ISBN 978-91-630-6744-0
  • (Swedish) Royal Court of Sweden,


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