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Blood of Jesus Christ (military order)

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Subject: Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, Chivalric order, Blood of Christ, Aubert Miraeus
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Blood of Jesus Christ (military order)

Ferdinand I Gonzaga as cardinal, wearing the collar of the Order

Blood of Jesus Christ, or Blood of Christ, was a military order instituted at Mantua by Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and approved by Pope Paul V, on 25 May 1608. The devise of this order was, Domine probasti me, or that Nihil hoc triste recepto. Hermant speaks of this order, and observes that it took its name from some drops of the blood of Jesus, said to have been preserved in the cathedral church of Mantua. Their number was restricted to twenty, besides the Grand Master; the office whereof was attached to himself and his successors.

There was also a congregation of nuns in Paris called Blood of Jesus Christ, reformed from the Cistercians.

History

Vincenzo I Gonzaga was a member of the chivalry equestrian Order of the Golden Fleece. He had been given the honour of being part of this order of knighthood by Philip II of Spain, Grand Master of this order, in 1589 after paying the enormous amount of 300,000 golden scudos. Not yet happy with that, he decided to fund his own equestrian order named of the Redeemer or of the Precious Blood of Christ after the relic of the Holy Blood of Christ kept in Mantua. He took this decision during the luxurious celebrations organized during the wedding between Francesco, his first born son and heir and Margaret, infanta of the Savoy dynasty.

Insignia

Its distinctive feature was a collar with golden medals chained one to the other. The medals showed two symbols alternatively: one medal showed the device of the melting pot surrounded by flames where some golden bars were being melted, while the other was decorated by the letters D.P., initial letters of the motto DOMINE PROBASTI ET COGNOVISTI ME taken from Psalm 138. The badge of the Order, made of gold, hanged from this collar and showed two angels holding a reliquary with three drops of Christ's blood in it. The medal had the motto NIHIL ISTO TRISTE RECEPTO on it.

The members of this equestrian order used to wear vivid red outfits, wide in shape and long to the ground. The dress was then topped by a coat in the same colour with little flames scattered all lover thus making their attire very remarkable and striking.

Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. 

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