Order of Saint Michael
of the Wing
Cross wing saint michael.png
Cross symbol of the order.
TypeDynastic order/
"Institution of chivalric character"[1]
Revived 1828/1848[3]
Revived 1981/1986/2001[4]
Countryformer Royal House of Portugal
Royal houseHouse of Braganza
Religious affiliationRoman Catholic
MottoQuis ut Deus
FounderKing Afonso I of Portugal
Patron SaintNuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira[5]
Sovereign and Grand MasterDuarte Pio, Duke of Braganza
Next (higher)Order of the Immaculate Conception of Vila Viçosa
Next (lower)None
EquivalentOrder of Saint Isabel
Order of Saint Michael of the Wing (Portugal) - ribbon bar.gif
Ribbon of the order

The Royal Equestrian and Military Order of Saint Michael of the Wing (Latin: Regia Equitum et Militum Ordo Sancte Michaelis Sive de Ala, Portuguese: Real Ordem Equestre e Militar de São Miguel da Ala) is a Portuguese Roman Catholic dynastic order that is believed to have been founded in 1147 in the Alcobaça Monastery in Alcobaça, Portugal, by King Afonso I of Portugal, in commemoration of the Conquest of Santarém from the Moors in 1147. The name was chosen in honour of the military Saint Archangel Michael, who assisted in the victory in the shape of a wing in the sky.

Its medieval history including claims of recognition in 1171 by Pope Alexander III, relies heavily on documentation from the 16th to the 18th century, it is classified by the privately operated and funded International Commission on Orders of Chivalry as an "Institution of chivalric character" that was founded as a chivalric order subsequently "revived by the dynastic successor of the founding authority" (2004).[6] The knights were under the jurisdiction of the Abbot of the Cistercian Alcobaça Monastery, and recited the same prayers as its lay brothers along with other military orders during the Reconquista.

It is considered to have been revived twice. First in 1828 or 1848 in support of the Miguelist movement by King Miguel I of Portugal, and secondly in its current form in 1981 by later Portuguese monarchists, recognised in 1986 by the Royal House of Braganza.

Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, pretender to the Portuguese throne as head of its former royal house, is Grand Master of the order and Judge of the associated Royal Brotherhood, statuted as Roman Catholic association of the faithful in 2001, with proof of previous statutes of 1630, 1848 and 1981. Ever since, the order has been conferred on individuals of merit through the brotherhood chosen exclusively by the House of Braganza.


The name was chosen in honour of the military saint archangel Michael, who assisted in the victory of the Conquest of Santarém from the Moors on 8 May 1147, in the shape of a wing in the sky.


Depending on the source consulted, the order existed briefly in the 12th century,[7] fell into disuse in 1732,[2] subsequently revived in 1848,[3] survived until 1910,[1] subsequently revived in 1986.[8] Unlike many other Portuguese orders, it has not been nationalized as a decoration of the state by the post-1910 Portuguese Republic.[9]

Middle Ages

The order was founded by King Afonso I[10] to honour a group of knights of the Order of Saint James of the Sword from the Kingdom of León who assisted him in retaking Santarém from the Moors on the Feast of Saint Michael, May 8, 1147.[11] Originally, the order was formed from members of the Military Order of Saint James. This is why it maintains on its coat of arms the red sword of this Order conjoined with two fleurs de lis representing the Cistercian Rule its members observed at the Royal Abbey of Alcobaça where the Order,[12] along with 6 other Military Orders was headquartered until the re-establishment of all Orders as unarmed and non-military Orders of "Honorific Knighthood" in 1834. The Order's first statutes were approved by Pope Alexander III in 1171.

The order fell into disuse by 1732 at the latest.[2] In 1907, George Cyprian Alston,[13] writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia stated that the order died in the Middle Ages, soon after the death of its founder, Alphonse,[7] while others, such as John C.L. Gieseler (also known by the German form of his name Johann K.L. Gieseler), argued that it only ever existed on paper.[14] It was not, in any case, included among the royal orders that were nationalized by the Portuguese Republic after the Revolution of 1910.


The Order was restored[3] by King Miguel I in 1828[15] during his brief rule before losing the Liberal Wars to his brother King Pedro IV.[16] Later, in 1848, the order received new statutes under permission of Pope Gregory XVI, whilst King Miguel was living in exile in the Rome.[3] These Statutes restructured it as a secret military order to combat Freemasonry and restore the Absolutist Monarchy in Portugal.[15] Some Portuguese scholars, such as Marcus de Noronha da Costa,[17] Gomes Abrunhosa Marques de Almeida,[3] and Manuel Ângelo,[3] reject the description of the 1848 institution as a revived order and regard it as a secret society aiming to restore Miguel's branch of the Braganza family to power in Portugal.[18] The headquarters of the revived order were located in Porto. After his death in 1866, a group of knights are said to have remained until 1868.[19] Its activity was however officially suspended after the Pope prohibited all secret organisations, Roman Catholic or otherwise.

There are disputed claims that Miguel's revived order was awarded by his descendants until in 1986,[4] Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and pretender to the Portuguese throne, informed the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic that he still considered himself to be the Grand Master of the Order,[8] and that although he did not have the power to validly alter the statutes a king had previously approved, he nonetheless still conferred it as an award. Duarte Pio's claims have been disputed in Portuguese courts which, in at least one case, held that Duarte Pio's order is an entirely new private entity, not a dynastic award of the House of Braganza.[1] The Civil Courts finally ruled decisively in favour of the valid and founded claims of Dom Duarte de Bragança, and on December 7, Duarte Pio of Braganza won the case and retained the legal rights.[20]

Modern revival

In 2001, the Duke promulgated new statutes submitted to various bishops to govern a royal Catholic brotherhood to complement the order as an active social group for Roman Catholic members,[10] and since that time, the order has been conferred on individuals through the brotherhood chosen exclusively by the House of Braganza.[21] The signing of the new statutes of the order were made with proof of previous statutes of the years 1630, 1848 and 1981 by Prince Duarte Pio.[22][23]

Dispute 2014-2015

In 2014, the Court of Lisbon forbade Duarte Pio of Braganza to use the insignia of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing and demanded that he pay compensation of €300,000 to the legal owners of the rights, Nuno da Câmara Pereira, who allegedly registered the name "Order of Saint Michael of the Wing" (Portuguese: "Ordem de São Miguel da Ala") in 1981, whereas Duarte Pio is said to have registered it in 2004.[24] The condemnation was repeated on October 5, 2015.[25] However, on November 3, 2015, the rights of Nuno Pereira da Camera to the symbols was lost,[26] and on December 7, Duarte Pio of Braganza won the case and regained the legal rights.[20]


Star of a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing.
Insignia of the order.

Membership in the order may be bestowed upon individuals of any citizenship, religion, or gender for recognised outstanding contributions to Portuguese royal charities[27] or for the spread of devotion to Saint Michael, traditionally venerated as Angel of Portugal and Angel of Peace.[28]

Members of the order who are Roman Catholics are designated as "Professed Brothers", admitted through the Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Wing (SMA), a Roman Catholic Association of the faithful of which the Duke of Braganza is "Judge", created as an active Roman Catholic social compliment to the Order in 2001.[28]

Members who are not Catholics are called "brothers fees". The awarded are divided into categories of "Justice" for nobles who can demonstrate at least 200 years of patrilineal nobility, and "Grace" for those not meeting the requirements of nobility.

Postulants who are not awarded the order for outstanding services may join the Royal Brotherhood if they are Roman Catholics in good standing (practicing and not divorced or interdicted) and usually after three years as a Professed Brother, may be advanced into the order.


The grade advancements include:

  • Grand Cross with Collar (reserved exclusively for the Grand Master and the members of the grand council, i.e. grand chancellor, chancellor and vice-chancellors)
  • Grand Cross (cross in a sash over the right shoulder and a gold plaque)
  • Grand Officer (cross around the neck and gold plaque)
  • Commander (cross around the neck and silver plaque)
  • Knight (cross around the neck of Commander size)

Notable recipients

See also


  1. ^ a b c Rodrigues Lima, Carlos (2009-01-09). "Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha batalha judicial a D. Duarte". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-01-21. Juíza vinca que Portugal é uma República, desvalorizando herança. O Tribunal Cível de Lisboa acaba de dar razão a Nuno da Câmara Pereira num conflito que o opunha a D. Duarte de Bragança, obrigando este último a desistir da denominação Real Ordem de São Miguel de Ala, uma ordem que criou em 2004. (Judge stresses that Portugal is a Republic, and values heritage. The Civil Court of Lisbon had initially ruled in favor of Nuno da Câmara Pereira in a conflict with Dom Duarte de Bragança, forcing the latter to give up the name the Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing, an order created in 2004.)
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, James (1732). Royal genealogies: or, The genealogical tables of emperors, kings and princes, from Adam to these times; in two parts. London: James Bettenham. pp. ix. Retrieved 9 December 2011. St Michael's Wing in Portugal founded by the said King Alphonse 1165 or 1171 after his obtaining a notable Victory over Moors and Alberto King of Seville in which Battle MICHAEL the Arch Angel is said to appear on the right Side of Alphonse and fight against them. This Order is now out of use. (1732)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Almeida, Gomes Abrunhosa Marques de and Manuel Ângelo (2007). Precedentes histórico-teóricos dos regionalismos dos Açores e da Galiza. Santiago de Compostela: Univ Santiago de Compostela. p. 187.
  4. ^ a b Sainty, Guy Stair (2006-11-22). "Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing". rec.heraldry. Retrieved 2011-01-21. While the Duke of Braganza is the unquestioned heir and successor of Dom Miguel, the institution of the Royal Brotherhood of St Michael of the Wing is better seen as a modern memorial revival of the original institution than any kind of continuation of the Miguelist award.
  5. ^ Rabel, Andrew (16 April 2009). "Pope to recognize Portuguese soldier/saint, Known as "The Constable", Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira will be canonized in April 2009 by the pope. In 1385 he was allied with the English to defeat Spain and the forces of the anti-pope at the Battle of Aljubarrota". Spero News. Retrieved 9 December 2011. Having been a Prior of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John (Order of Malta) and Commander of the Minor Religious Military Orders under the observance of the Cistercians of Alcobaça's rule, such as Saint Benedict of Aviz and Saint Michael of the Wing, Dom Nuno will also be venerated as a Saint or Protector of these Orders.
  6. ^ http://www.icocregister.org/2004otherinstitutions.htm
  7. ^ a b Alston, George Cyprian (1907). "The Benedictine Order". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 17 December 2011. The Knights of St. Michael's Wing, founded 1167; the name was taken in honour of the archangel whose visible assistance secured a victory against the Moors for King Alphonso I of Portugal. The rule was drawn up by the Cistercian Abbot of Alcobaza. They were never very numerous, and the order did not long survive the king in whose reign it was founded.
  8. ^ a b Evaristo, Carlos. "Ordem de São Miguel da Ala". Ordens Militares e Religiosas. Dedechi Heraldica. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  9. ^ "Lei Das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas". Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas (in Portuguese). Office of the President of the Portuguese Republic. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2011. As Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas são as seguintes: a) Antigas Ordens Militares: – Da Torre e Espada, do Valor, Lealdade e Mérito; – De Cristo; – De Avis; – De Sant'Iago da Espada. b) Ordens Nacionais: – Do Infante D. Henrique; – Da Liberdade.
  10. ^ a b Fernandes, Orlando. "Mestre H. Mourato, Dr. Henrique Tigo, recebendo as Comendas das mãos de D. Duarte Pio de Bragança". Varanda das Estrelícias. Juliana Bayer. Retrieved 9 December 2011. Real Ordem de São Miguel de Ala, (é uma Associação de fiéis Católicos, herdeira das tradições e símbolos da antiga Ordem de Cavalaria Portuguesa dedicada a São Miguel e fundada, segundo a tradição, pelo primeiro Rei de Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, depois da tomada de Santarém aos Mouros, em Festa de São Miguel do Monte Gargano, 8 de Maio de 1147. A Ordem de São Miguel da Ala é hoje uma irmandade que servem os interesses do sucessor do Trono, chefiada pelo SAR Dom Duarte de Bragança). Royal Order of St. Michael Ward, (is an association of Catholic faithful heir to the ancient traditions and symbols of the Portuguese Order of Chivalry dedicated to St. Michael and founded, according to tradition , the first King of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, after the taking of Santarém from the Moors, on the Feast of St. Michael's Mount Gargano, May 8, 1147. The Order of St. Michael's Wing is now a brotherhood that serves the interests the successor to the throne, led by HRH Dom Duarte of Braganza).
  11. ^ Robson, Thomas (1830). The British Herald; or, Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility & Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, from the Earliest to the Present Time: with a Complete Glossary of Heraldic Terms: to which is Prefixed a History of Heraldry, Collected and Arranged in Three Volumes. London: Turner & Marwood. pp. vol. 1, pg 154. Wing of St Michael instituted in 1172 by Alphonso King of Portugal to commemorate a victory which he gained over the Moors and from a belief that it was achieved by the interposition of St Michael. The badge was a cross flory fitchee gules cantoned in base with two fleurs de lis and over the cross upon an escroll the motto Quis ut Deus. The habit of the order was of white silk on the left breast whereof was embroidered a wing purple within a circle of rays of gold.
  12. ^ McGahan, Florence (1911). "Military Orders of St. Michael". The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 9 December 2011. Knights of St. Michael's Wing, founded in the Cistercian monastery of Alcobaza about 1171, by Alfonzo I, King of Portugal, in commemoration of victory over the Moors, in which, according to tradition, he was assisted by St. Michael in person. The knights were placed under the jurisdiction of Abbot of Alcobaza and were pledged to recite the same prayers as the Cistercian lay brothers. The order was in existence but a short time.
  13. ^ The Catholic encyclopedia and its makers. New York: The Encyclopedia Press. 1917. p. 3. Archived from the original on 6 June 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2011. Alston, Reverend George Cyprian, o.s.b., b. at Victoria, B. C, in 1869. Education: Merchant Taylors' School, London, England; Belmont Cathedral Priory; Downside Abbey, Bath. Joined the Anglican "Father Ignatius" at Llanthony Priory 1888; became a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist ("Cowley Fathers") at Oxford 1895; received into the Catholic Church and entered the Benedictine Order 1898; professed 1900; ordained 1906; editor of the "Downside Review" 1906-1909; assistant priest at St. Anthony's, East Dulwich, London, 1909- . Contributor to: "Downside Review".
  14. ^ Gieseler, John C. L. (also known as Johann K.L. Gieseler) (2009). A Text-Book of Church History. BiblioBazaar. pp. 447–48. ISBN 978-1-116-21129-0.
  15. ^ a b Cheke, Marcus (1969). Carlota Joaquina, queen of Portugal (Reprinted. ed.). Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-8369-5040-3.
  16. ^ Jenks, George C (1911). Monarchs in Exile, The Bookman vol. 32. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co. p. 273.
  17. ^ Costa, Marcus de Noronha da (1978). Para a História do Miguelismo: A Ordem de São Miguel da Ala. Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto Português de Heráldica.
  18. ^ Figueiredo, Fidelino de and Sociedade Portuguesa de Estudos Históricos (1921). Revista de historia, Volumes 1-2. Lisbon, Portugal: Emprêsa Literária Fluminense. p. 278.
  19. ^ http://users.panola.com/AAGHS/WING.html#_ftn1
  20. ^ a b http://www.flashvidas.pt/a_ferver/detalhe/duarte_pio_absolvido_pelo_tribunal.html
  21. ^ Sainty, Guy Stair. "A Summary of the Use of the Royal Prerogative, Its Use by the Heirs to Former Thrones, and by Republican or Revolutionary Regimes". www.chivalricorders.org. Retrieved 2011-01-21. re-established a long dormant Order, that of Saint Michael of the Wing, with members across Europe and a handful in the United States (now reformed as an Association rather than an Order)
  22. ^ Carlos Evaristo. "History of the Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing". panola.com. Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  23. ^ "Real Orden de San Miguel del Ala". blasoneshispanos.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 2015-04-23.
  24. ^ D. Duarte de Bragança condenado pelo Tribunal do Comércio de Lisboa
  25. ^ O.S.M.A. - Processo 93.07 - Acórdão do Supremo Tribunal de Justiça 05-10-2015
  26. ^ http://www.flashvidas.pt/a_ferver/detalhe/nuno_da_camara_pereira_perde_marca_real.html
  27. ^ "Governor Receives Knight Grand Cross by Royal House of Portugal". Governor's News & Media. Governor's Office, State of Utah. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012. because of the many Utah citizens actively engaged in causes of the Portuguese Royal Charities
  28. ^ a b Statutes of the Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Wing.

External links

  • Foundation of the House of Braganza (Portuguese)
  • Website of order associated with Nuno Pereira da Camera (Portuguese)