Papal Decorations

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The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice 

Latin: For Church and Pope

Awarded for: Rewarding those who in a general way deserve well of the pope on account of services done for the Church and its head.

 It is currently conferred for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy.

The medal was established by Leo XIII on July 17, 1888, to commemorate his golden sacerdotal jubilee and was originally bestowed on those men and women who had aided and promoted the jubilee, and by other means assisted in making the jubilee and the Vatican Exposition successful.

In 1898 it became a permanent papal distinction. Pius X reduced the classes to a single one in 1908.

The current version is only awarded in gold. The obverse depicts the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul. On the left arm of the cross is the inscription Pro Ecclesia(For Church), on the right arm of the cross is Et Pontifice (And Pope). At the point of the top arm of the cross is the coat of arms of the reigning Pope. At the points of the other arms are small Greek crosses. Below the depiction of the Saints is the Latin name of the Pope. The reverse depicts a Greek cross.

Benemerenti Medal

Awarded for: Long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church

The Benemerenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church. Originally established as an award to soldiers in the Papal Army, the medal was later extended to the clergy and the laity for service to the church.

The current version of the Benemerenti medal was designed by Pope Paul VI. The medal is a gold Greek Cross depicting Christ with his hand raised in blessing. On the left arm of the cross is the tiara and crossed keys symbol of the papacy. On the right arm is the coat of arms of the current Pope. The medal is suspended from a yellow and white ribbon, the colours of the Papacy.

Jerusalem Pilgrim's Cross 

(Latin: Signum Sacri Itineris Hierosolymitani)

Eligibility: Practicing Roman Catholics

The  is an honour awarded in the name of the Pope as a recognition of merit to pilgrims to the Holy Land.

The medal is a Jerusalem cross in gold, silver or bronze. The centre of the front is a small depiction of Pope Leo XIII with the surrounding Latin inscription LEO XIII CREAVIT ANNO MCM (Leo XIII created [this medal] in 1900). In the crossbars, there are four biblical scenes showing the early life and the ministry of Jesus with the inscription CHRISTI AMOR CRUCIFIXI TRAXIT NOS (Christ's love attracted us)

In the center of the reverse, there is the image of the risen Christ. The crossbars show four scenes of the Passion with the inscription SIGNUM SACRI ITINERIS HIEROSOL [YMITANI] (Sign of the holy voyage of Jerusalem)

Decorations that have been Discontinued


Papal Lateran Cross 

Status: Obsolete

Established: February 18, 1903

Last awarded: 1977

The Papal Lateran Cross  is a medal for recognition of merit bestowed by the Holy See.

The Lateran Cross was commissioned by Pope Leo XIII, and instituted on February 18, 1903. The distinction was created as a recognition of merit, and is named in honor of the Basilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome. Initially, it was awarded for donations regarding the restoration of the Lateran Basilica.

The distribution of the award was continued after the completion of the restoration process. Paul VI ended the awarding of the Lateran Cross in 1977.

The decoration consists of a Greek cross displaying the image of St. John the Evangelist on the right, St. John the Baptist on the left, St. Peter at top, and St. Paul at the bottom. Christ the Redeemer is displayed at the center of the cross. The reverse side of the cross is engraved with the names, in Latin, of each saint depicted (JoanesBatisPetrusPaulus), as well as the symbol of Christ (P and X inside a circle).

A button located above the cross is inscribed with the phrase: Sacrosancta lateranensis ecclesia - omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput (The sacred and holy church of the Lateran - the mother and the head of all of the churches of the city and the world).

The medal has been crafted in a number of designs: with or without an adjoining circle, as well as a solid medal with a cross in relief. The accompanying ribbon is red with blue stripes along the sides.