From a reader…
How does one become a knight of the Papal Supreme Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
This is the highest papal honor that can be given to a layman.
There are a handful of “papal honors” that are bestowed on lay people. For example, the Order of the Golden Spur, also called the Order of the Golden Militia, is papal knighthood for lay people. It has its own particular uniform, medallion, star, etc. The Supreme Order of Christ (also called “Militia of Our Lord Jesus Christ”) was founded by the king and queen of Portugal in 1318 but it was quickly recognized by John XXII. At that time it was handled like a monastic order. In 1507 Julius II released the members of the order from their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Sounds great, right? Wanna be one? Tough luck. It is reserved to Roman Catholic male heads of state and sovereigns.
Even so, it is not automatic for RC sovereigns. King Juan Carlos I of Spain has been given only the Grand Collar of the Pian Order instead of the Order of Christ. The use of the order was restricted by (who else) Paul VI. The last time it was awarded was 1987 by Pope John Paul II to Frà Angelo de Mojana, 77th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Right now, there are no living members of the order. I suspect that Pope Francis won’t bestow it anytime soon.
Oh yes… the existing papal orders are the Supreme Order of Christ, the Order of the Golden Spur, the Order of Pius IX, the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, and the Order of Saint Sylvester. The last two you see fairly regularly at Masses in their uniforms.
When We are elected and take the Tiara, We shall revive the use of honors.
Keep in mind also the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, the Knights of Malta, the Teutonic Order, and the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.