Pro-Ecclesia Et Pontifice
Taken from The Church Visible, by James-Charles Noonan, Jr.
The Cross for the Church and
Pontiff, or Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice, is not a pontifical
order; it is characterized as a papal award. Founded by Pope Leo
XIII on July 17, 1888, it was intended as an award to mark his
fiftieth priestly jubilee, not as a long-standing award. The
Cross Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice was intended as Leo XIII’s
specific mark of honor, but it continues to outlive the founder.
In present times, the award is bestowed on persons, both
laypersons and clergy, who have given service to the Church. It
is also the papal award that had been traditionally bestowed
upon women throughout this century, but, as we have seen, this
has changed with the award of the Order of St. Gregory to women.
The original award consisted of the effigy of the reigning
pontiff on a round medallion in either gold or sliver. The
ribbon was of red and white stripes, with a thin yellow stripe
imposed upon the white stripe. From the time of Leo XIII until
late into the pontificate of Paul VI, the award remained true to
this design with the exception of the ribbon, which was altered
to half yellow and half white, the heraldic colors of the Holy
See. Pope Paul especially loved modern art and altered the
insignia of the Greek cross. In the center of the squarelike
cross are the images of the apostles Peter and Paul. On the
cross bar of the Greek cross is the name of the award
perpendicular to each of the apostles’ effigies. At the base of
the Cross is the name of the reigning pope in Latin, above the
papal arms, in modern stylized fashion. At present, the Cross is
awarded in gold or gilt only.
It is important to note that the reigning pope is not bound by
the motu propio of his predecessors, although seldom are these
reversed in the pontificates that immediately follow. The
creations of the new awards or the suppression of existing
orders, however, is within the jurisdiction of the reigning
pope. As such, a return to the traditional forms of the Cross
Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice or a substitution of yet another
design is, or course possible in future pontifcates.
The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has deigned to decree and
bestow the symbol of honor of the Exalted Cross – PRO ECCLESIA
ET PONTIFICE (for service to the Church and to the Pope)
to Mother Angelica and to the Rev. Deacon R. William
Steltemeier instituted for persons distinguished for
outstanding service and zeal and, along with this, the faculty
to wear this ornament in public.
from the Vatican, July 20, 2009