Pope Francis Names Bob Fitzsimmons Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Oder of St. Gregory The Great

In recognition to his service to the Church and society, Pope Francis honored Bob Fitzsimmons by naming him a Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. Bob was nominated for the honor by the Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Papal Equestrians Order of Saint Gregory the Great was founded on September 1st, 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI to honor and reward the Italians and Austrians who restored the Pope’s political power after the catastrophic events of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic invasions. In the words of Pope Gregory XVI, The Papal Equestrians Order of Saint Gregory the Great was bestowed upon “gentlemen of proven loyalty to the Holy See who, by reason of their nobility of birth and the renown of their deeds or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See.” Later in 1905, Pope Pius X reformed all the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood in the Apostolic letter “Multum ad excitandos.” He appointed the Cardinal Secretary of the State of the Vatican as the Grand Chancellor of all Pontifical Orders and established a Chancery to oversee the uniforms of the members of each of the various Orders. Pope Pius X also divided the Order of Saint Gregory the Great into two divisions: civil and military. Under each division of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, a member may be a Knight or Dame Grand Cross, a Knight or Dame Commander with Star, A Knight or Dame Commander, or a Knight or Dame.

The awards of the Order are nominated by the Diocesan Bishops or Nuncios for specific services. The recommendation is than forward to the Secretariat of State for review and approval. Since membership of the Order of St. Gregory the Great does not require any special religious obligations, unlike the Military Orders, it is the preferred award to honor an individual’s admirable service to the Catholic Church and society.

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