The Order of Merit pro Merito Melitensi
of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a knightly order of merit established in 1920. It is awarded to men and women who have brought honour and prestige to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta or actively promoted Christian values or works of charity in the Christian tradition as defined by the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...
. Although, strictly speaking, honorees become knights or dames, they are not invested in a religious ceremony as knights and dames of the Order of Malta itself (which is a military order
A military order is a Christian society of knights that was founded for crusading, i.e. propagating or defending the faith , either in the Holy Land or against Islam or pagans in Europe...
of chivalry); therefore the Order pro Merito Melitensi (sometimes "Melitense") may be bestowed upon non-Catholics. Conferees include prominent statesmen, such as Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....
(who received it while still in office) and George H.W. Bush. The Order of Merit has certain ranks (such as commendatore
Literally Commander, the official title of Commendatore is awarded by decree of the President of Italy to individuals who are given this honour in the Italian Order of Merit known as the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica and other orders of knighthood...
or knight commander) no longer used in the Order of Malta, and has no nobiliary grades. In this way it is comparable to numerous orders of merit around the world, including the Papal orders.
Classes of the Order pro Merito Melitensi
The Order pro Merito Melitensi has the following classes:
- the Collar
- the Cross
- the Medal
The Collar « pro Merito Melitensi »
The Collar does only have one single grade, but it has instead two divisions, namely "Collar pro Merito Melitens" for Civilians", and "Collar with Swords pro Merito Melitensi" for the Military. The Collar is only awarded to Heads of State.
The Cross « pro Merito Melitensi »
The Cross is bestowed upon both civilians and military personnel, having several grades:
- Knight or Dame Grand Cross pro Merito Melitensi – Special Class
- Knight or Dame Grand Cross pro Merito Melitensi
- Knight or Dame Grand Officer pro Merito Melitensi (with Badge for women)
- Knight (or Dame) Commander pro Merito Melitensi (with Crown for women)
- Knight or Dame Officer pro Merito Melitensi (with Coat-of-Arms for women)
- Cross (knight or dame) pro Merito Melitensi
N.B. :The decorations there are "with Swords" for serving military and without Swords for civilians.
The Cross « pro piis meritis »
When awarded to ecclesiastics, it has the same cross as awarded to civilians and military personnel. Nevertheless, the ribbon is here black crossed with two thin red lines and there are only two grades :
- Grand Cross « pro piis meritis » pro Merito Melitensi,
- Cross « pro piis meritis » pro Merito Melitensi.
There are only three different types of ribbons for both the medal and the crosses.
|Cross of Merit, Ecclesiastical
||Cross of Merit, Civil
||Cross of Merit, Military
|Black ribbon with thin red stripes
||White ribbon with large red stripes
||Red ribbon with large white stripes