orders of knighthood

Certain regular and secular confraternities which arose during the Middle Ages. Regular orders of knighthood were brotherhoods combining the insignia of knighthood with the privileges of the followers of monastic life, and receiving the recognition of both Church and State. The greater regular orders were of three classes: Of the lesser regular orders, the Knights of Livonia were the most important. Secular orders, dating from the 14th century, were fraternities of lay knights patterned on the regular orders of knighthood. In Great Britain, the Orders of the Garter, of the Bath, and of the Thistle originated before the Reformation, but are now Protestant, while those of Saint Patrick, of Saint Michael and Saint George have always been so. In Austria and Spain there flourished the Order of the Golden Fleece, and in Piedmont, the Order of the Annunziata. There are very many religious or fraternal organizations whose titles begin with the word "Knights," e.g., Knights of Columbus; Knights of Father Mathew; Knights of the Blessed Sacrament; Knights of the Cross. See also pontifical decorations.

New Catholic Dictionary

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