Statutes of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
of the Royal House of Savoy
Translation © 1992 Louis Mendola
Vittorio Emanuele, By the Grace of God and the Will of the Nation King of Italy,
Sovereign Head of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
The Supreme Order of the Collar of Savoy, founded by our glorious and victorious
Predecessor Amedeo VI in 1362, was given in 1409, by Amedeo VIII, its first
known statutes, which were subsequently amended and reformed by Carlo III in
1518, by Emanuele Filiberto in 1570, and thereafter by succeeding Sovereigns.
In the reforms of 1518, Carlo III added to the original number of fifteen knights
and companions another five and decreed that within the triangular space formed
between the three love knots [resembling Stafford knots] pendant from the Collar
over the gorget was to be placed a representation of the Most Holy Annunciation,
for which the Order is named.
This supreme recognition of distinguished services, which constituted a kind
of religious and military fraternity between the Sovereign Head [i.e. "Sovereign
and Head"] of the Order and his companions, was reserved exclusively to distinguished
men-at-arms who, apart from exemplary service, had to be of illustrious birth.
With the passing of time, it was deemed appropriate to recognise also those
who had rendered distinguished service to the country in the exercise of high
civil offices, not requiring, when a such achievements could be demonstrated,
nobility of birth as well.
Likewise, the special political and economic privileges then associated with
the rank of Knight of the Annunciation should be viewed in light of the the
contemporary advancement of social institutions, and therefore associated less
with those hereditary privileges which over the course of time have been abolished
either by practice or by law.
Today, with the transformation of the Savoy monarchy into a constitutional
kingdom of Italy we cannot but rejoice that the traditions of this most noble
Order already conform to the present liberal institutions, it being incumbent
upon us only to modify certain exceptional rules and to alter certain dispositions
relative to the prerogatives and duties of the knights. This we declare by our
motu proprio as Head and Sovereign of the Order, having heard the advice of
Our Cousins, the knights of the said Order, and have and do by these presents
The number of knights of the Supreme Order of the most Holy Annunciation shall
be, as in the past, twenty. In keeping with the traditional Statutes, the Sovereign
Head, the Hereditary Prince, his kinsmen to the fourth grade of consanguinity
inclusive as well as ecclesiastics and foreigners are not included in this number.
The knights shall be chosen from distinguished individuals in recognition of
their eminent services in high military positions, as well as from those who
have distinguished themselves in senior positions in the civil service, and
from those who,as private citizens have brought distinction upon Italy as exemplary
benefactors of the Nation or of Mankind, or have rendered particularly noteworthy
services to Our House.
The Grand Chancellor of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus shall continue
to exercise the office of Secretary of the Order of the Annunciation, accepting
and following our commands pertaining to the same.
The knights of the Supreme Order may wear either of two Collars: one large,
the other small.
The large collar is worn on the first day of the year, on the feast of the
Most Holy Annunciation, and on all of the principal national holidays and at
important royal functions.
The small collar is worn on every other occasion which necessitates the display
of order insignia.
Knights also wear, on the left breast, a star badge bearing the image of Holy
Mary of the Annunciation, in conformity with the specifications prescribed by
the Royal Lady Maria Giovanna Battista, Duchess Regent of Savoy, at the chapter
general of the Order convened 24 March 1680.
Upon a knights death, his heirs shall return the Great Collar to the Sovereign
Head of the Order.
The knights of the Order of the Annunciation shall enjoy all of the prerogatives,
distinctions and precedence set forth by articles 1 through 6 of our decree
of 19 April 1868, and the military honours established by the Disciplinary Regulations.
In keeping with their quality of Our Cousins, the knights of the Order, like
every other great officer of the state, shall be called upon to be present at
events commemorating the births, marriages and deaths of the Princes of Our
They are likewise called upon to take part in all the other ceremonies, at
which their precedence shall immediately follow that of the Royal Princes.
The right to appoint knights and officers of the Order appertains exclusively
to the Sovereign Head. Nevertheless, when there are vacancies, the Sovereign
Head meets with the the Chapter of knights to hear their advice on the proposal
of candidates whom he alone may select. The Sovereign Head may delegate the
Hereditary Prince, or another Royal Prince, or the dean of the knights to preside
over the Chapter.
Present at a Chapter must be, in addition to the Sovereign Head or his representative,
a quorum of at least six knights. Whoever presides shall announce the names
of the candidates, any of whom may be proposed, and following deliberation a
vote shall be taken by secret ballot by means of paper ballots, on each of which
shall be written the name of the candidate accompanied by a si or a no.
The presiding knight opens each ballot and reads the votes and then announces
the result. Above all else, the Chapters balloting is intended to be plainly
consultative and secret.
On the day designated by the Sovereign Head, the postulant to be invested shall
be presented to him, accompanied by two or more knights, in the presence of
the Secretary of the Order. He shall kneel before the Sovereign Head, and with
a hand on the Holy Gospel swear an oath according to constitutional form.
The oath shall be sworn by the postulant and and by the other knights present,
following which the postulant shall bow to the Sovereign Head, who decorates
him with the Collar and then embraces him.
On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Annunciation the knights assemble formally
to attend the Divine Office and pray for the Heavenly Blessing of the Sovereign
Head, the Royal House of Savoy and Italy.
On this occasion one of our chaplains shall serve as master of ceremonies.
On the occasion of feasts, balls and formal dinners the knights of the Annunciation
are introduced into Our Cabinet, and given a place in our cortege along with
those entitled to the privilege of a formal announced entrance.
In compliance with the terms of the Statutes observed until now in this Supreme
Order, the notice of the death of a knight shall be communicated to each of
the other knights, brothers and companions, inviting them to pray for his soul
in accprdance with ancient tradition and with the specifications of the Statutes,
when this is in keeping with the religious faith of the deceased.
In the event that, God forbid, a knight should be found guilty, either by a
[criminal] sentence or by the judgement of competent [civil] authorities, of
having gravely failed in his duty or his honour toward the Nation or to the
Sovereign Head, the Chapter of the Order, having the legal written proof of
the offense and having heard, and deliberated, the merits of the accuseds own
defence, and sitting in a quorum of ten knights, may by a vote of two-thirds
recommend that the Sovereign Head consider the removal of the accused knights
name from the Roll.
The decision resulting from this deliberation shall be announced as early as
possible to the accused by the Secretary of the Order. The accused is thereby
deprived of the right to wear the decorations of the Order.
The present Royal Document shall be entered into the Register of Statutes and
communicated to each of the knights of the Order.
Given at Florence this 3rd day of June 1869
[signed] VITTORIO EMANUELE
Countersigned L.F. Menabrea, Knight and Secretary of the Supreme Order.
Approved at Geneva under date of 11 June 1985
[signed] VITTORIO EMANUELE, Grand Master