Procedure of Admission

Pope Francis

In Great Britain, there are three usual ways for admission to a Pontifical Order.

  • Directly by order of His Holiness the Pope or by him on advice from the Secretary of State of the Vatican City State.
  • By proposal of HE The Nuncio to the Court of St. James or his counterparts internationally (as the most senior diplomatic representative of the Supreme Pontiff).
  • By proposal of a Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop Ordinary of a Diocese within Great Britain or internationally.

In the vast majority of cases, the recommendation is made by the Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop Ordinary of a Diocese, who if he sees fit and deems the candidate worthy enough of further consideration for such an honour, he forwards the application with a detailed biography and reasons for the award to HE The Nuncio for further consideration. Approved nominations are then forwarded by the Nunciature to the Secretariat of State within the Vatican City State.

Following further detailed consideration of the nomination, approved candidates are then formally submitted by the Secretariat of State to His Holiness the Pope for final approval, which if granted, a “biglietto” or brief of appointment is drawn up, which is then signed by the Secretariat of State of the Vatican City state and duly dated and sealed. This is then returned through the Holy See’s diplomatic mission (the Nunciature) to the Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop who made the initial submission and who in turn notifies the candidate of the Pope’s decision to award the honour and will usually present it, sometimes with the appropriate active insignia, at a ceremony which may be either public or private.

On occasion, candidates born or living in Great Britain have been nominated directly by the Holy Father or by a Nuncio or a Cardinal, or Archbishop or Bishop Ordinary of a Diocese outside Great Britain, for specific services rendered. Such ceremonies are therefore usually conducted in the place where the nomination originated. In most cases the ceremonial investiture is conducted by the local Ordinary in the recipient’s parish church, sometimes the cathedral church of the diocese or perhaps some other significant location for the recipient.

Although the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood were founded for gentlemen, in November 1993, the Papal Secretariat of State issued instructions that the Orders were now open to ladies.