Archbishop Cordileone named prior of historic order of Catholic knights  

U.S. delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George Members of the U.S. delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George/ U.S. Delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco was recently named the new prior of a historic order of knighthood.

Cordileone will serve as principal chaplain to the U.S. delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. The Order is an organization of Catholics who prioritize the propagation of the faith and support Catholic education, vocations, the restoration of churches, and various charitable projects.

Noting Cordileone’s “southern Italian heritage and his humble orthodoxy,” Brendan Young, executive director of the order, told CNA on August 2 that the archbishop “is a natural choice for assuming the priorate of the Constantinian Order's American Delegation which he will lead spiritually for years to come.”

Young said the order's origins date to the Roman Emperor Constantine's vision of the Holy Cross at Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D.; the order received papal approval in the 1500's. 

“It was founded as a military religious order, but developed into a dynastic order, always fully Catholic and with papal approval,” Young told CNA, “but never under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See like the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre or the Order of Malta.”

“Membership in the Order goes much deeper than attending events, or a matter of philanthropy for its own sake,” he said. “They [members] feel drawn to do more for Christ and His Church by participating in the Order’s unique mission.”

Cordileone was named prior by the order’s Grand Master, Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro, as well as the Grand Prior, Cardinal Renato Martino. The order’s website officially announced his appointment in a Aug. 2 press release.

Archbishop Cordileone will oversee clerical members of the order. Cordileone, who has not had a public investiture as of yet, became prior on Aug. 1.

Young stated that the American delegation’s support of Catholic education is “near and dear to the Archbishop’s heart,” as is a serious support of evangelization. Cordileone shares a vision with the organization on the sanctification of the family through Catholic education, Young said. 

The order’s national delegate, John Viola, said it was an “incomparable honor” to have Cordileone as the prior. 

“For centuries, the Constantinian Order has been dedicated to the glorification of the Cross, the propagation of the Faith, and the defense of Holy Mother Church,” Viola said in a statement provided to CNA. “I can think of few prelates who have lived this vocation more actively and passionately than Archbishop Cordileone."

The Order has been in the U.S. since 1979, and was officially incorporated there in 1989. Currently, its main outreach is in support of Catholic education, vocations and the restoration of churches, as well as financial and practical assistance to the poor. 

Young told CNA the delegation helps support a school in Lahore, Pakistan run by the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Last year, he said, the delegation also raised $50,000 as part of a worldwide fundraiser to help Italian hospitals at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic; the global fundraiser brought in a total of over 230,000 euros. 

The order runs events around the country, but Young said that Cordileone will most likely preside at the annual or biannual investiture ceremony, and attend the annual council meetings. “But the day to day is handled by the Delegation’s Subprior, Fr. Edmund Luciano of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ,” he said.

The order’s principal feast days are Sept. 14, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and Apr. 23, the feast of St. George. 

This article was updated on August 3.

Young told CNA that the order is open to adult Catholics, both men and women, “in good standing” with the Church. 

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