Order of the Southern Cross
The National Order of the Southern Cross is a Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian order of chivalry founded by Emperor Pedro I on 1 December 1822. This order was intended to commemorate the independence of Brazil
Brazilian Declaration of Independence
The Brazilian Independence comprised a series of political events occurred in 1821–1823, most of which involved disputes between Brazil and Portugal regarding the call for independence presented by the Brazilian Kingdom...

 and the coronation of Pedro I. The name derives from the geographical position of the country, under the constellation
In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms, patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth's night sky....

 of the Southern Cross
Crux is the smallest of the 88 modern constellations, but is one of the most distinctive. Its name is Latin for cross, and it is dominated by a cross-shaped asterism that is commonly known as the Southern Cross.-Visibility:...

 and also in memory of the name - Terra de Santa Cruz
Ilha de Vera Cruz
Ilha de Vera Cruz was the first name given by the Portuguese navigators to the newly discovered land on the northeast coast of what later became known as Brazil...

- given to Brazil at the time of its discovery.


Originally known as the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross (Ordem Imperial do Cruzeiro do Sul), the Order was erected by Emperor Pedro I on the very day of his Coronation, on 1 December 1822. Also on the same date the first knights of the order were appointed, to commemorate the crowning of the Empire's first monarch. Since the proclamation of the independence of Brazil on 7 September 1822 other honorific awards had been made, but of the Orders of chivalry shared with Portugal, Brazilian branches of which had been created upon independence; the Order of the Southern Cross, created to mark the Coronation of the Empire's founder, was thus also the first purely Brazilian Order.

It was suppressed after the proclamation of the Republic in Brazil by a provision of the Constitution of February 24, 1891 that abolished all titles of nobility and all Imperial Orders and decorations. It was later re-established by the government of Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Vargas
Getúlio Dornelles Vargas served as President of Brazil, first as dictator, from 1930 to 1945, and in a democratically elected term from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. Vargas led Brazil for 18 years, the most for any President, and second in Brazilian history to Emperor Pedro II...

 on December 5, 1932, as the National Order of the Southern Cross.

During the period of Brazilian History known as the Old Republic, that lasted from the Proclamation of the Republic until the Revolution of 1930, no National Orders existed and the Brazilian State bestowed no decorations apart from military medals. Created in 1932, the National Order of the Southern Cross was the first Order to be created in the re-established, republican honours system. It is thus considered the senior one among the Brazilian National Orders.

In the Imperial period, however, the Order of the Southern Cross was not the highest ranking of the Imperial Orders, as it ranked below the Brazilian branches of the ancient orders of chivarly, inherited from Portugal: the Order of Christ
Order of Christ (Brazil)
The Imperial Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ , simply named Order of Christ, is an order of chivalry instituted by emperor Pedro I of Brazil on 7 December 1822, on the basis of the Portuguese Order of Christ founded by King Dom Dinis and Pope John XXII in 1316-1319. Knights of the Order of Christ...

 (the senior-most Order), the Order of Saint Benedict of Aviz and the Order of St. James of the Sword. Those Orders were shared by Brazil with Portugal, and, in the case of the Order of Christ, also with the Holy See, just like there is an Austrian and a Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece. However among the purely Brazilian Orders, the Imperial Order of the Southern Cross ranked first, having higher status than the Imperial Order of Pedro I and the Imperial Order of the Rose.

The Imperial version of the Order of the Southern Cross continues to be used by both branches of the Brazilian Imperial Family as a House Order, awarded by the rival claimants to the position of Head of the Imperial Family, but such awards are not recognized by the Laws of the Republic.

Just like the Emperors of Brazil were ex officio Grand Masters of the Imperial Order, Presidents of Brazil are ex officio Grand Masters of the successor National Order. Accordingly, President Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Vana Rousseff is the 36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she was also the first woman to become Chief of Staff of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva....

 is the Order's current Grand Master.


Unlike the Imperial Order, that was awarded to Brazilians and foreigners alike, the republican National Order is awarded to foreigners only. When the Order was re-created in 1932, it was intended as an Order to be awarded by the Government of Brazil as an act of external relations. That characteristic has been preserved since the re-establishment of the Order and thus its current regulations, approved by a Presidential Decree of 13 January 1971  confirm that the Order is restricted to foreigners and that all awards of the Order constitute an act of foreign relations on the part of the Brazilian Government.

The original reason why the re-established National Order of the Southern Cross admits no Brazilians to its ranks is this: precisely because, in the Old Republic, the State regarded Orders and decorations as contrary to the principles of republicanism, and thus maintained no honours system, the creation of an Order that would also admit Brazilians to its ranks was seen as a step too far. However the Brazilian State also resented the lack of a decoration with which to honour foreign dinataries, as is sometimes almost required by diplomatic protocol. For instance, in the Old Republic, Brazilian authorities would often be presented with foreign decorations in certain occasions, but they could not reciprocate the courtsey by offering foreign authorities Brazilian
decorations in similar occasions, because Brazil had no decorations. This lack of decorations to award to foreigners was felt in a particularly acute manner during the celebrations of the Centennial of Brazilian Independence in 1922. Several foreign dinataries, including the King and Queen of the Belgians and the British Prince of Wales came to Brazil for the celebrations, and the King of the Belgians bestowed Belgian honours to some Brazilians. In 1922 the mere wearing of decorations was against the republican praxis in Brazil, but the Government of the Republic, having authorized Brazilians to accept the foreign honours, relaxed its practice, and allowed the wearing of the foreign medals. The Brazilian Government lacked, however, any decorations with which to reciprocate the Belgian gesture. Thus, when it was created ten years later, in 1932, the National Order of the Southern Cross was intended as an Order that would fill that gap, by allowing the Brazilian Government to honour foreigners when appropriate. But at the time of its creation, the establishment of a Brazilian honours system for Brazilians was still considered a step too far. Only later the anti-titles mentality was further relaxed, and Orders to which Brazilians too could be admitted were instituted, the first of those being the National Order of Merit (Ordem Nacional do Mérito) created in 1946 during the administration of President Eurico Dutra.

On the other hand the decision by President Getúlio Vargas of basing the newly created National Order of the Southern Cross on the previous Imperial Order of the same name, and to indicate that the National Order is the successor of the Imperial Order by adopting an almost identical model for the insignia, etc., was intended as a way of increasing the prestige of the new Order, by linking it with the past, that is, by associating it with an Order that had been erected more than one century earlier, and that had been awarded to great Brazilians and foreigners alike.

Awards of, and promotions in, the National Order of the Southern Cross are made by decree of the President of the Republic, in his capacity as the Order's Grand Master. The decree of appointment or promotion is, like all presidential decrees, published in the Federal Government's Official Journal, and, as per the Order's regulations, the appointment or promotion is also recorded in a book kept by the Order's secretary.

The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations serves as the Chancellor of the Order, and an officer of the Ministry of Foreign Relations that heads the ceremonial and protocol division serves as the Secretary to the Order. The Order also has a Council, chaired by its Chancellor, that recommends awards and promotions.


Under its current regulations, the Order consists of the Grand Master
Grand Master (order)
Grand Master is the typical title of the supreme head of various orders of knighthood, including various military orders, religious orders and civil orders such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Orange Order...

 and six Classes of members:
  • Grand Collar: the recipient wears the adorned "grand collar", a chain from which the badge of the order is suspended, and the recipient further displays the "star" of the order on the left breast. Awards of the Grand Collar are restricted to foreign Heads of State.
  • Grand Cross: badge affixed to a light blue sash worn on the right shoulder, with the star of the order displayed on the left breast.
  • Grand Officer: badge worn on the left breast suspended from a ribbon with a rosette, and the star of the order displayed on the right breast.
  • Commander: badge of the order worn around the neck suspended from a ribbon necklet.
  • Officer: the badge is worn on left breast suspended from a ribbon with a rosette.
  • Knight: who wears the badge of the Order on the left breast suspended from a ribbon.

Ribbon bars
Knight Officer Commander Grand Officer
Grand Cross
Grand Collar

Notable recipients

  • 2011 -   Georgi Parvanov
    Georgi Parvanov
    Georgi Sedefchov Parvanov is a President of Bulgaria, whose second and last mandate expires on January 22, 2012; he was elected after defeating his predecessor Petar Stoyanov in the second round of the presidential elections in November 2001 and he came into office on January 22, 2002...

     (as President of Bulgaria)
  • 2006 -   Jacques Diouf
    Jacques Diouf
    Jacques Diouf is a Senegalese diplomat with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He has been serving as Director-General of FAO since January 1994...

     (as diplomat)
  • 2003 -   Ann Hartness
    Ann Hartness
    Ann Hartness is an academic research librarian who was Head Librarian of the University of Texas Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection from 2002 to 2008...

     (as scholar)
  • 1968 - Elizabeth II
    Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
    Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

     (as Queen of the United Kingdom and of the other Commonwealth Realms
    Monarchy of the United Kingdom
    The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

  • 1963 -   Josip Broz Tito
    Josip Broz Tito
    Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

     (as President of Yugoslavia)
  • 1961 -   Che Guevara
    Che Guevara
    Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

     (as revolutionary)
    • 1944 -   Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (as naval officer)
    • 1940 -   Robert B. Williams
      Robert B. Williams
      Major General Robert Boyd Williams was a World War II general in the United States Army Air Forces. He led the B-17 raid on the Schweinfurt ball-bearing factories, the first large-scale deep penetration bombing raid on Germany.-Early life:...

       (as pilot)
    • 1935 -   Jean Batten
      Jean Batten
      Jean Gardner Batten CBE OSC was a New Zealand aviatrix. Born in Rotorua, she became the best-known New Zealander of the 1930s, internationally, by taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world....

       (as aviatrix)

    External links

    • Orden Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul - official website of the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations
      Ministry of External Relations (Brazil)
      The Ministry of External Relations conducts Brazil's foreign relations with other countries. It is commonly referred to in Brazilian media and diplomatic jargon as the Itamaraty, after the palace which hosts the ministry...

      Portuguese language
      Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

    • Orders and Decorations of all Nations by Robert Werlich and Jose Luiz Silva Preiss-Porto Alegre-RS-Brazil
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