Papal decorations are honors which are conferred by the papal court on those who have unblemished character and who have promoted the welfare of the society, the Church and the Holy See. These honors are given only to people who deserve special recognition for their service to the Roman Catholic Church. The titles range from prince to baron inclusive, and are bestowed by the pope as a temporal sovereign. The appropriate method of procuring a decoration is by a petition from the bishop of the diocese of the person to be honored. The petition should contain a brief history of the applicant’s life, emphasizing his distinguished activities in literature arts, science, religious writings or his generous and self-sacrificing endowments to the society or the Church which are worthy of papal recognition and reward. The petition should be endorsed by the Ordinary of the appointee before being sent to an agent at Rome, who then sends it to the cardinal chancellor of orders. The Chancellor registers it and thereafter seeks information from other sources about the character of the applicant.
The Papal decorations in the order of their importance are: Supreme Order of Christ, Order of Pius IX, Order of Saint Gregory the Great, Order of Saint Sylvester, Order of the Golden Militia or Golden Spur, and Order of the Holy Sepulcher. Other Papal decorations include the medals: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice; Benemerenti; and The Holy Land.
Supreme Order of Christ: this decoration originated from Portugal. The decoration of the Supreme Order of Christ is a long red cross with a narrow gold band on its edges whose extremities are trapeze shaped, surmounted by a royal crown, on which there is a military trophy attached to the ribbon. Upon the centre of the Red Cross is a small plain white Latin cross. The white upon the red is the symbol of the victory of the Immaculate Lamb of God over the world of sin, by the means of his blood,. The official dress of a professed knight of this order when it was a religious military body was white.
Order of Pius IX: it was founded by Pope Pius IX in 1847. It was used to reward noble and conspicuous deeds which benefit the Church and society, and to encourage others to follow suit. The order was divided into four classes namely: Knights of the Great Ribbon, Commanders with the Badge, Commanders and Knights.
Order of St. Gregory the Great: this order has two divisions (civil and military) and each division is divided into four classes namely: Grand Cross Knights of the First Class, Grand Cross Knights of the Second Class, Commanders and Simple Knights.
Order of Saint Sylvester: it has three classes, namely: Knights Grand Cross, Commanders and Knights.
Order of the Golden Militia: The decoration is an eight-pointed yellow enameled gold cross, with a gold trophy on top and pendent from the inner sides of its foot with golden spurs. On a small white medal in the centre of the cross the word MARIA is etched surrounded by a golden circle, and on the reverse side in the centre is stamped the year MDCCCCV and in the surrounding circle the inscription PIUS X RESTITUIT. The badge depicts a cross lying upon the rays of a silver star. The ribbon used for both decoration and badge is red bordered with white
Order of the Holy Sepulcher: it has three classes, namely: The Grand Cross Knights, Commanders and Knights.