Insignia & Decorations

The principal symbol of the Order is its Jerusalem Cross five-fold cross, which appears on its uniform and insignia, and is seen in multiple locations on this site. This fivefold cross has for centuries been a symbol of the holy city of Jerusalem, where the Order arose and which is still its spiritual home. It consists of a large central cross with laterally extended tips, with a similar smaller cross in each quarter of the large cross. It is traditionally said to symbolize the five most precious wounds of Christ.

Knight's InsigniaThe Jerusalem cross, as used in the insignia of Members of the Order, is faced in red enamel and bordered in gold. Lady Commander's InsigniaIn Knights' insignia the cross is surmounted by a military trophy, whose use was decreed by Pope Saint Pius X, then Grand Master of the Order, to distinguish Knights' insignia from Ladies', Ladies having been first admitted to the Order by his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII. In Ladies' insignia, the cross is surmounted by a knotted bow in gold. The full insignia of the Order are normally worn with formal dress when other decorations are worn. The insignia are worn suspended from black silk moire ribbons of various widths.

Knights' Insignia

Knight Grand Cross in full evening dressWith full evening dress (white tie), Knights of the Grand Cross wear a large cross and military trophy suspended from a wide black sash or baldrick which is placed over the right shoulder, crossing the breast and back diagonally and ending at the left hip. Under all other circumstances, Knights of all ranks wear the appropriate insignia suspended on black ribbons around their necks. Star as worn by Knight Commander with Star Knights of the Grand Cross and Knight Commanders with Star also wear a large eight pointed or rayed silver star of rank low on the left breast. For Knights of the Grand Cross, the star on the breast is charged with a large cross; for Knights Commander with Star, it is charged with a small cross surrounded by a golden circle bearing a green laurel wreath.

Miniature Knight's InsigniaMiniature versions of the insignia may be worn on less formal occasions. This miniature is a yellow and white gold lapel bar of small size from which hangs a black silk ribbon and a miniature of the cross or star of appropriate rank. These may be worn on any social occasion, but are never worn together with the corresponding full-size emblem. It is now considered to be socially acceptable to wear full-size insignia with dinner jackets (black tie). One neck decoration and a single star may be worn.

Neither full-size insignia nor miniatures are worn with business suits or ordinary daytime dress, although there is a small flat lapel badge or, alternately, a rosette, both of which display a small cross of the Order and an indication of rank, which Knights are encouraged to wear on the lapel at all times.

Lady of the Grand Cross in full evening dress

Ladies' Insignia

Ladies of the Grand Cross wear their insignia of rank in the same manner as Knights of the Grand Cross. The only difference between the two is that the Grand Cross insignia for Ladies has a gold bow in place of the military trophy. Commanders with Star normally wear their insignia about the neck; with the star either pinned to the left side or replacing the neck-cross. Other Ladies wear the insignia of their rank on a necklet. For social daytime or evening wear, Ladies of the Order are permitted to detach their proper cross of rank from its ribbon and wear it hung from a gold chain or in other appropriate fashion. They may also wear their miniatures with evening dress, and their emblem stickpins at any time.


During ceremonies, Priest-Knights may wear insignia of rank on their mozzetta, as previously noted, either in the badge form on the left breast or about the neck. For formal occasions full decorations are properly worn on a cassock of appropriate color of ecclesiastical rank. The baldrick and star of the Grand Cross are worn over the cassock. The Knight Commander star is worn on the left side of the cassock above the waist. At formal banquets or receptions of the Order, clergy members are encouraged to wear their decorations in keeping with the formal dress of the other Knights and Ladies. The regulations for clergy uniforms or decorations may be modified by the direction of the Grand Prior.

Pilgrim Shell

Pilgrim Shell

The Pilgrim Shell is the most significant decoration of the Order. It may be awarded by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to any Knight or Lady of the Order in good standing, who makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and prays at the Holy Sepulchre of our Risen Lord. This decoration consists of a scallop shell, the ancient badge of a pilgrim, in oxidized silver, in the center of which is placed the cross of the Order in red fired enamel bordered with gold. It is usually worn with evening dress and full decorations, placed above all other decorations. As previously noted, it is the only decoration which may be worn on the outside of either the Lady's or Knight's cape. It is appropriate to wear it at any meeting of the Order. Lapel badges worn by Members who have been awarded the Pilgrim Shell consist of the normal badge of rank imposed on a scallop shell.

The Collar

The Collar

Certain dignitaries of the Order, generally including the Grand Master, the Latin Patriarch, and the Papal The Collar — detail of the pendant Secretary of State, totaling twelve in memory of the twelve Apostles, are designated Knights of the Collar, and wear a ceremonial collar of metal links of fine design, suspending in the center the seal of the Risen Christ, the military trophy and the cross of the Order. A somewhat similar Collar of Merit is awarded on rare occasions to distinguished Members for extraordinary service to the Order and the Holy Land.

Decorations of Merit

Cross of Merit

Non-members of the Order may be awarded merit decorations. Persons, Catholic or non-Catholic, of unquestionable moral conduct, who have served the Church and have shown great charity and love for the Holy Land, may receive a merit decoration. The Decorations of Merit are in three grades:
1. Cross of Merit of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
2. Cross of Merit of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem with Silver Plaque.
3. Cross of Merit of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem with Gold Plaque.
Individuals who receive these Decorations do not thereby automatically become Members of the Order.

Special Distinctions

Gold Palm of Jerusalem

Members of the Order who have distinguished themselves by extraordinary service to the Order and the Holy Land may be awarded "The Palm of Jerusalem" (of gold, silver and bronze). The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem may confer the decoration in special cases to persons with established residence in the Holy Land, and, in exceptional cases, to persons in transit there.

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