THE ROYAL ORDER OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF ARAGON
TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
DON FRANCESCO PATERNO CASTELLO E GUTTADAURO
The loyal proposal of the most humble servant of His Royal Highness
Stephen Screech SGDC Gr.Coll.MOC
Prince of Monte Sant»Angelo and Peer of Aragon
Chancellor of His Royal Highness’ Curia Regis etc.
A PROPOSAL FOR THE INSTITUTION OF A ROYAL ORDER OF MERIT
It is well known that in the collation of the Head of Name and Arms of the Royal and Sovereign House of Aragon, called also the House of Paternó Ayerbe Aragona, there are to be found various dynastic and chivalric Orders, notably the ancient and distinguished Military Order of the Collar of Saint Agatha of Paternó dedicated to the Holy Virgin Saint and Martyr Agatha, Patron of the Royal House of Paternó just as also of the City which is its Seat of Exile and also venerated by Your Royal Highness»s ancestors the Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona who dedicated to her the Royal Chapel of their Palace in Barcelona, but we also find the Royal Aragonese Order of the Knights of Saint George and the Double Crown, the Order of the Royal Balearic Crown, the Royal Order of James I of Aragon and the Order of San Salvador of Aragon.
With the passage of the centuries the warlike intentions of these venerable orders of chivalry in Your royal gift have inevitably been transformed into honorific and charitable aims but their traditions, insignia, statutes and so forth remain nevertheless faithful to the military foundations on which they were set up.
There is ample and well documented evidence, preserved to this day in the Royal Chancery of the Crown of Aragon in Barcelona, that Raymond Berengar II Count of Barcelona, a most illustrious ancestor of Your Royal Highess, indeed founded a military and chivalric order exclusively for ladies, the so called Order of the Ladies of the Axe.
In 1149 Raymond Berengar II Count of Barcelona set up the Order of the Axe to honour and reward the extraordinary courage exhibited by the ladies of the Catalan city of Tortosa who, wielding axes, had assisted their menfolk in repulsing a seige of the city by the Moors. This Order, whose emblem was an axe of red cloth embroidered on left hand side of a robe, whence its name, was also called Passatempo, i.e. transitory. In any event it had a very brief existence.
Moreover having established without any doubt that even in the most ancient times of the Royal House of Aragon or Barcelona Your royal ancestors were pleased to set up a royal chivalric and dynastic order exclusively for ladies, we now propose for Your gentle consideration that the times are again propitious for the setting up of such an order for ladies but humbly and particularly suggesting to You rather an order of merit to reward the gracious virtues of particularly loyal supporters of Your Royal House.
There is no finer paragon, no more excellent example of these gracious virtues than Your cousin Elizabeth (or Isabel in Spanish and Portuguese, Isabella in Italian), Saint of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, Queen Consort of Portugal and Princess of the Royal House of Aragon, the daughter of Your ancestor King Peter III of Aragon who was also the brother of James of Ayerbe from whom descends directly the sovereign dynasty of Paternó Ayerbe Aragona in which continue to this day all the sovereign and dynastic rights, privileges and claims of the Kings of Aragon and Majorca, currently embodied in Your royal person. There is no more worthy Patron to give her name to an order of merit to honour those ladies conspicuous in the service of Your Royal House.
Elizabeth of Aragon was born in 1271 in Saragossa, the capital then as now of the Kingdom of Aragon, being the daughter of King Peter III of Aragon, Count of Barcelona, and of Constance his wife, granddaughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. She was given the baptismal name of Elizabeth in honour of her aunt and godmother Saint Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary. At the age of twelve, already a very serious and devout young woman, she was married by proxy on the 2nd February 1282 to King Denis of Portugal in the Chapel of Saint Agatha in the Royal Palace in Barcelona and then again, in person, on the 24th June of that year in Trancosa in Portugal.
Denis was an excellent ruler of his country, being called to this day the Worker King, but his private life was disorderly if not downright dissolute, a fact which the Queen endured with great difficulty. Continuing the spiritual exercises which she had begun in her youth, the Queen endevoured to gain the affection of her husband by her tenderness, her extraordinary understanding and her forgiveness. The Queen was accustomed to visit the elderly, the needy and the poorest families in the kingdom, distributing to them money which she took from the Royal Treasury to buy food and clothing. Unjustly suspicious of the Queen»s charitable works the King had her spied on and in his fury demanded retribution from her, but in the moment in which she revealed the money hidden in her clothing it was found that the coins had miraculously changed into roses.
The royal couple had two children, a daughter Constance who married the King of Castile and a son who became King Alfonso IV of Portugal. As Crown Prince Alfonos so resented his father»s indulgence of his illegitimate offspring that he rebelled against the King in 1323. The Queen literally interposed her person between the armies of her husband and of her son on the field of batlte in order to prevent bloodshed. Yet again in 1336 she was conspicuous for her peace keeping efforts between her son by then King Alfonso IV of Portugal and her grandson King Alfonso XI of Castile. Despite her advanced age and her ill health she hastened to Estremoz where she halted the hostilities and drew up the peace treaty. But the exertion brought on her final illness and she succumbed to a fever the following day in possession of the beatific vision and encouraging her son the while to follow a life of holiness and peace.
At the death of her husband she had withdrawn into the Convent of the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters that she had founded in Coimbra and where her still incorrupt body lies buried. She was canonised by Pope Urban VIII in 1625. Her Feast Day is now celebrated on the 4th July (previously the 8th July). Customarily the Holy Queen is depicted with the halo of a saint, the crown of a queen and the veil of a Franciscan Tertiary.
From the earliest times every entity, orders included, in the collation of the Royal House of Aragon has had the Head of Name and Arms of the Royal House as its supreme master or sovereign. Nevertheless an Order specifically instituted for ladies and named for the example of virtue and delicacy of Saint Elizabeth, herself a king»s consort, may however have at its head Her Royal Highness the Princess Consort of the Head of the Royal House of Aragon.
There follows my humble proposal to Your Royal Highness that I dare to submit as a project for the statutes of such an order.
The Feast of the Epiphany, the 6th January 2003
THE ROYAL ORDER OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF ARAGON
I Donna Giuseppina by the Grace of God Princess of Aragon make known to those to whom this edict comes that the Prince Don Francesco Paternó Castello e Guttadauro Ayerbe Aragona, Duke of Perpignan and Prince of Emmanuel, my husband and my lord, has authorised me to issue statutes for the Royal Order of Saint Elizabeth of Aragon which he has been pleased to found and set up by the following decree:
«Having seen the report of His Excellency the Chancellor of the Curia Regis and having given it due consideration, We are of the opinion that We are in need of an order of merit by which to honour the virtues and to reward the gentle services rendered by ladies to Our Royal Person and to Our Royal House.
Having founded and instituted today the Royal Order of Saint Elizabeth of Aragon at the behest of the Princess my beloved and valued Consort (who is to nominate the ladies who will be its members) in order to give further enduring proof of the ancient devotion that exists in this Our Family and in those realms of Our ancestors to the Holy Queen, I have seen fit to authorise the Princess in order that she may decide on the insignia, the number and the quality of the members, their duties and those of the secretariat to be appointed and to put forth such statutes as it shall please her to give to the said Order and I command prompt and full observance of all that the Princess may order in this regard.
From Our Seat of Exile in Catania, today the Feast of Saint Agatha, the 5th February 2003
By virtue of the powers given me I see fit to determine the statutes which follow and I order that the dispositions and rules therein contained be duly observed and respected.
These are the statutes which for the time being I command to be observed, reserving for myself the right at all times to augment, revoke or replace them as may appear to me to be to the greater advantage or in the best interest of the Order.
Given in Catania, today the Feast of Saint Joseph, the 19th March 2003
I the Princess Giuseppina Paternó Castello e Guttadauro Ayerbe Aragona, Duchess of Perpignan, Princess of Emmanuel
Grand Master of the Royal Order of Saint Elizabeth of Aragon
- ^ STORIA DEGLI ORDINI CAVALLERESCHI, Licurgo Cappelletti, 1904; ORDINI CAVALERESCHI ANTICHI E MODERNI, Duca Raffaele Cumo, 1894; DICTIONNAIRE HISTORIQUE DES ORDRES DE LA CHEVALERIE, H. Gourdon de Genouilac, 1860; HISTORY OF EARLY ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD & CHIVALRY, D. G. Neville, 1978.