The Constantinian Order of Saint George as it exists today has been identified as a dynastic institution since 1698, when the last Comnenus Pretender ceded it to Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma, Piacenza and Castro. Pope Innocent XII confirmed this transfer with his Bull, Sincerae Fide, issued 24 October 1699. The main focus of the Constantinian Order was, and remains, the propagation of the Catholic Faith, although it supports charitable works as well, and today enjoys a special role in the preservation of the culture of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The Farnese Statutes were the first formal Constitution of the Order, setting forth its purpose and mission. On the initiative of successive Grand Masters, the Statutes evolved over the centuries to reflect the changing times.
In 1731, the Order passed by dynastic right to Prince Carlo de Bourbon (left), son of King Philip V of Spain by his second wife, Elisabeth Farnese, who was the niece and heir of the last Farnese Grand Master, Prince Antonio. The young Carlo entered Parma as its sovereign ruler in 1732.
Two years later, Prince Carlo de Bourbon (“di Borbone” to Italians) became King of Naples. For the first time in centuries, the Neapolitans could boast that their monarch would reign in their city. For centuries, Naples had been ruled from afar, with local administration overseen by viceroys who, themselves, were often foreigners.
In 1735, Carlo was crowned King of Sicily at Palermo. His Grand Magistry of the Constantinian Order was recognised with a Papal Bull in 1738. A few examples of Carlo’s image, such as his statue at Messina [shown here], are still visible in Italy today. His greatest legacy was the development of Naples itself. The Royal Palace and the nearby Teatro San Carlo, which opened on the King’s name day in 1737, are lasting testaments to his memory.