FOUNDED A.D. 1270
The Sacred Order of Mary Immaculate is a religious and dynastic chivalric order dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order descends from the Confraternity of the Most Holy Immacolata (in reference, of course, to Mary Immaculate), founded in Palermo, Sicily in 1270. The Confraternity provided health service and assistance for its members and for pilgrims. It also provided burial services for the poor, as well as requiem masses for all the companions and their families. The Prior of the original Confraternity was Frá Girolama Busà. Other priests at the time that held special sacred offices included Don Vincenzo Carastro and Don Salvatore Virzì.
Later, in the 14th century, the confraternity took on the nature of a chivalric order, and its members became knights. Today, the Sacred Order of Mary Immaculate is one of the ecclesiastical descendents of the original confraternity and order of knights of the Immacolata. Like the original confraternity, the hallmark of the modern knights and dames is hospitality and service to the needs of others.
Knights and Dames must exhibit devotion to the Holy Church and service to others. Candidates are admitted in recognition of proven humanitarian or military service. The order is part of the patrimony of the Anglo-Italian Imperial Patriarchate (Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church) and is under the hereditary leadership of the Etrurian household. The order particularly represents the titular Rhineland territories of the patrimony of the Patriarchate and Southern Italy. The line of the Imperial Patriarch descends from Peter III, King of Aragón, King of Sicily, of the House of Barcelona that ruled in Sicily after the Sicilian Vespers. The Aragón claim was based on the spouse of Peter III, Constance, who was the daughter of Manfred, King of Sicily, 2nd-great-granddaughter of Friedrich I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor (House of Hohenstaufen). Constance of Sicily was also 2nd-great-granddaughter of Roger II, King of Sicily, of the Norman House of Altavilla. Today the Imperial Patriarchate is heir to the House of Barcelona in Imperial Italy.
The order is divided into the ranks of Bailiff Grand Cross, Knight Grand Cross, Commander, and Knight or Dame, with three divisions, Justice, Honor and Service, and Grace, and two classes, civil and ecclesiastical. The Knights and Dames of Devotion are the professed knights and dames of the order. The traditional badge consists of a cross of Saint John, who took the Blessed Virgin as his own mother after the crucifixion, with a gold star in the center for Mary's Queenship of Heaven. In between the four points of the cross are gold eagles, taken from the Santa Croce Badge found in the Etrurian and Patriarchal flag, coat of arms, and other symbols. The ribbon is green, representing the Rhineland patrimony of the Imperial Patriarchate, the Electorates of Trier and Mainz, as well as representing health, in reference to the order's ancient practice of providing care to those in need.
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