Holy Orthodox Autocephalous Church Of Epirus

The Holy Chivalric Order Of St. Michael

The Holy Chivalric Order of St. Michael the Archangel was founded as an honor conferred on those who have served the church at large in some commendable way. Members of the Order are not required to be part of a particular jurisdiction, diocese or denomination. The Order is ecumenical and honors all those who significantly aid the Christian faith.


HISTORY


We follow an ancient tradition. It is said that Christian chivalry began with the Emperor Constantine in the forth century. The Emperor faced a battle with Manentius. On October 28, 312 A.D., just before the battle, he had a divinely inspired vision of a flaming cross in the heavens with the inscription in hoc signo vinces (in this sign you will conquer). Subsequently, he had a new imperial Standard made in this design as it was carried into battle and guarded by fifty elite solders called the Praepositi Laberorum. Constantine was victorious under this sign, and the first Christian empire of Byzantium was founded. The fifty warriors were organized into a Sacred Knightly Guard, called Torquati (Golden Knights) and Perfectissimi (Most Perfect Knights). Thus, the first knightly or chivalric Order had been founded.


The idea of knighthood and chivalry particularly flourished after the first millennium as part of the development of feudal States. It grew into a contract between the land lord of an area and chosen trained warriors. In this mutually beneficial contract, the knight acquired status and land in return for service to his lord. These services included military support as well as service as police and social worker for the local area. The basic ethical code of chivalry stressed justice and care for the needy and the defenseless. Services to a local lord and to the church grew at the same time. The Crusades began as church related Orders simply protected and cared for pilgrims to the Holy Land. These Orders later on also became involved in major wars surrounding the Holy Land.


IDEAL


There has always been a chivalric idealistic element in knighthood. Today, there are more Orders, knights and dames than there ever had been in the past. This is partly because of the growth in population; partly also because over time the military warlike element has faded and disappeared, leaving the idealistic element as supreme. What was formerly male dominated has shifted to the point that membership in chivalric Orders is now equal for both men and women. A further development of different kinds of Orders has also taken place. There are dynastic Orders which are awarded to recognize supporters of a given dynasty, such as Britain's Royal Victorian Order. The most common type of knightly Orders are essentially in recognition, given by a State, for some noteworthy contribution to that State, such as Britain's Order of the Bath or the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The purpose of these State Orders is to recognize people as being superior and noble per se. Then, there is a smaller number of chivalric Orders which rest on some kind of service. Here, service itself is recognized as noble.

CHIVALRIC ORDERS


Today, there are many chivalric Orders in both Eastern and Western churches. Most of these resemble State Orders which recognize personal status.


The Holy Chivalric Order of St. Michael the Archangel recognizes actual service and individual contribution to the church. Status in this Order rests solely on service or contribution. It is a simple matter of good will when someone outside the church's immediate jurisdiction aids the faith. The Order recognizes those of good will.


Some chivalric Orders are of a single class, i.e. all are equally knights and dames. Others are in a hierarchy of classes like in the Holy Chivalric Order of St. Michael the Archangel.


This church award is classified as a decoration; and holders of this status can use their respective post-nominal, enhance their credentials, ministry or public standing.


The ranks in this Order (starting with CSM) and their respective post-nominals are:


- Companion of St. Michael [CSM]

- Canon of St. Michael [COSM]

- Knight or Dame [KSM] or [DSM]

- Knight or Dame Officer [OSM]

- Knight or Dame Commander [KCSM] or [DCSM]

- Knight or Dame Grand Cross [GCSM]



Rank in the Order is accompanied by an attractive diploma or brevet. It is valid for life.


The Holy Chivalric Order of St. Michael the Archangel is now governed under the spiritual auspices of the Holy Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Epirus and its appointees. The Order was founded on May 1, 1995 A.D. that "well deserving efforts on behalf of the Holy Church may be recognized" [Grammata of Foundation].



The Passage




Upon completion and approval of your Petition a Certificate will be issued to you. Your name can be added to the membership roster (unless you prefer not to).


Please follow these steps:

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  3. Fill it out accurately and sign.

  4. Attach your petition by sending it to the Chancellery via email.

Membership does not include Regalia, since each member has his or her own preference.

The Ancient And New Ecclesiastic Noble Title Of Vidame



1. The Title And Function Of Vidame

In the Carolingian era (9th century), after and during the Middle Ages, archbishops and abbots ruled important estates and lands, but Canon Law forbade the clerics to participate in the judicial and military aspects of the pre-feudal or feudal land administration. However, bishops and abbots appointed officers chosen among the officials or in other ways among important citizens.

These persons were the advocati (advocates) for the abbeys and the vicedomini (Vidames in French) for the bishoprics. So, during the Council of Mayence we read: ”We order to all the bishops and abbots and to the whole clergy to have Vidames and Advocates or good defenders as military chiefs.” In the Historia of Flodoard (10th century) we read that, “...they should have good and capable Vidames and Advocates, and where he should come, they should accomplish acts of justice...”; also in Le Carpentier (17th century): “In such a way that as the Advocates were established in time past to govern and to defend the temporal properties of the big and wealthy monasteries and churches, and the lords of the manor to maintain in the duty of the obedience and in a good discipline the towns and its people, so the Vidames were particularly created and chosen to the protection of the bishops and the administration of their properties.”

During the 9th century these terms are used indifferently. However, in the 11th century we see the term of Advocate reserved only for the protectors of abbeys while the Vidames were appointed by the bishop. Often the Advocates were powerful local lords. They added abbey function to their own like others such as the King of France, and also count of Vexin, who was the Advocate of the abbey of Saint Denis. Around the 13th century the institution of Advocate has virtually disappeared. On the other hand the Vidames were not high lords, and exercised always their powers under the control of their bishops. Originally officers, the Vidames became hereditary like all other feudal officers, passing to the eldest son and by default to the eldest daughter. The wife or the daughter of a Vidame was Vidamesse.

The historian François Velde writes: “As Loyseau (Traité des Seigneuries, 1608, p.153) says, the Vidame is to the bishop what the viscount is to the count. Their role was to manage and protect the estates of the bishopric, to exercise in his name the episcopal jurisdiction, to represent him at the count’s court, to lead the bishop’s troops in battle. [But the Vidames were sometimes also the administrators of the episcopal estates and possessions, and the officers in charge of the church taxes.] The lordship of the Vidame consisted in a house near the episcopal palace and a territorial domain in the city or nearly countryside: thus the vidamé [lordship of the Vidame in French] of Chartres consisted in a parcel in the city (located within the episcopal gardens, in the 17th century on the Grand Rue) and the lordship of La Ferté-Arnault, renamed La Ferté-Vidame.” The better known vidamés were the following: Amiens, Beauvais (Gerberoy), Cambrai, Châlons, Chartres, Laon, Le Mans, Meaux, all the Normandie, Noyon, Reims, Rouen, Sarlat, Sens, Senlis, Tulles.

The Lord-Vidame was a direct vassal of the Lord-bishop to whom he takes the oath and homage. A new Vidame would be appointed by the bishop who marked this establishment in the office by the presentation of a ring to the new officer concerned. As armiger the Vidames wore a coronet on their coat of arms; It was a gold circle, decorated with pearls and precious stones, and surmounted by four crosses. These coronets of rank didn’t come into use before the 16th century.

The Vidames could also be women, titled Vidamesses. Vidames were mainly found in Northern France, though some Vidames had existed in England, Germany and in the Low Countries (Netherlands and Belgium). In some bishoprics the title was Viscount (Vice Count) or Advocate, such as in Therouanne, Cambrai, or the Liège in Belgium. The Archbishop of Reims had both a Vidame and a Vice Count. The office of Vidame didn’t always make them nobility. They remained in whatever status they had before, but were still real representatives of their bishop.

Generally the title of Vidame was attached to a lordship, and the family holding the title bore the name of lordship over that of the bishoprics. Having become increasingly hereditary, the office of Vidame enmeshed with the feudal hierarchy. As royal government officials, the Vidames and Advocates were compensated for their responsibilities a lucrative, honorary and hereditary office. They left in charge persons of humbler origins the more mundane task of the duties. They retained for them only the title. In the Neherlands, it was never seen as nobility, but in France, more often than not it became a hereditary and title of nobility, ranked after the title of count and before the title of Vice Count. Gille André de la Roque writes in “Le Traité de la Noblessein 1678: “Pasquier (16th century) ranks the Vidames after the counts, and says that they must precede the viscounts because they represent the bishop.” The title survived as far as the ancient regime and as long as the ancient privileges were lucrative and honorary to live on.

2. A Title Of Nobility

Surely, this title as generally used in France was a title of nobility. In fact the revolutionary decree of the 19th and 23rd of June 1790 prohibiting the noble titles abolished also the title of Vidame placed in the nobility hierarchy between the Vice Count and the Baron. On the other hand, it was not a noble title in the Low Countries.

3. The Title Of Vidame Today

Because the bishop’s title is a traditional and legitimate fons honorum (fountain of honors), at least for the title of nobility, some Christian churches revived again the old noble title of Vidame or Vidamesse to reward their benefactors and above all the defenders of the faith, the Church and the Christian religion at large. For example a Canadian Church, fully recognized by the Government, awards titles of Vidame, founded on symbolic and tiny estates considered as “feudal lordships”. This system is probably today obsolete and a real anachronism. In fact, after the Ancien Regime since the 19th century, the new titles of nobility are used as surnames and not as lordships or other titled lands. In this way the Metropolia grants today the title of Vidame or Vidamesse, and His Grace, the Most Reverend Mar Melchizedek, Metropolitan of the Holy Orthodox Autocephalous Church Of Epirus has promulgated a decree restoring the ecclesiastic title of Vidame.


Members Section

Members

Please note that some members are not listed due to privacy concerns


Most Rev. Mar Melchizedek, GCSM

Founder


Ms. Julie-Anne Michael, GCSM

Grand Master


Companion of St. Michael


Ms. Jacqueline Davis, CSM

Mrs. Katherine McGowan, CSM

Mrs. Nosheen Rafiq, CSM

Ms. Harriet Pincus, CSM

Rev. Joseph Rafiq, CSM

Dr. Christopher T. Shelton, CSM

Lieutenant Matthew S. Whisman, CSM


Canon of St. Michael


Rev. Dr. Claude A. Chaussier, COSM

Rev. Fr. Frank (Raphael) Souza, COSM


Knight or Dame


Rt. Rev. Charles Browne, KSM ✝

Rev. Elizabeth Brown, DSM

Rev. Michael Nicholas, KSM

Mr. Thomas Miller, KSM

Rev. John Durand II, KSM

Mr. Val Matthews, KSM

Mr. Ronald Bridges, KSM

Mr. Raymond Brenni, KSM

Miss Dawn Judith Patrick, DSM



Knight or Dame Officer


Knight or Dame Commander


Knight or Dame Grand Cross


H.R.H. Davide Pozzi Sacchi di S. Sofia, GCSM

Dr. Wilson Van Dusen, GCSM ✝

Rt. Rev. Dr. William C. Baron, GCSM


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