Order of the Starry Cross

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Order of the Starry Cross
Autriche Ordre de la Croix Étoilée.jpg
2nd Class of the Order
Awarded by Imperial Standard of Austria-Hungary (1915-1918).svg The Head of the House of Habsburg
Type Order of chivalry for women
Royal house House of Habsburg
Religious affiliation Roman Catholic
("Hail and Glory")
Awarded for Devotion to the service and worship of the Holy Cross
A virtuous life in the exercise of religion and works of charity
Sovereign Archduke Karl of Austria
Grand Mistress Archduchess Gabriela of Austria
Chancellor Count Norbert Salburg-Falkenstein
Grades Dame, Special Class
Dame, 1st Class
Dame, 2nd Class
Dame, 3rd Class
Next (higher) Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary
Next (lower) Imperial and Royal Order of the Iron Crown
Same Imperial and Royal Order of Leopold II
Ordre de la Croix étoilée autro-hongrois.jpg
Ribbon of the Order

The Order of the Starry Cross (or Order of the Star Cross/Star Cross Order; German: Sternkreuz-Orden) is an Imperial Austrian Order for Catholic noble ladies. The Order still exists, though the empire has gone.


The Order was founded in 1668 by Eleonora Gonzaga of Mantua, dowager empress of the Holy Roman Empire, this all-female order was confirmed by Pope Clement IX on June 28, 1668, and was placed under the spiritual management of the Prince-Bishop of Vienna. Only high-born ladies could be invested with the Order, including “princesses, countesses, and other high nobility.” Once invested, members were to “devote themselves to the service and worship of the Holy Cross, and to lead a virtuous life in the exercise of religion and works of charity.”

According to legend, the Habsburg dynasty owned a piece of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. Though it is impossible to prove its authenticity, the holy relic was set in gold and worn by at least two Holy Roman Emperors, Maximilian II and Ferdinand III. Ferdinand III’s last consort, Empress Eleanora, was given the relic by her stepson, Emperor Leopold I, after Ferdinand’s 1657 death; in the aftermath of a fire at the Hofburg on February 2, 1668, the relic was discovered in near-perfect condition. The dowager empress founded the Order in celebration that the relic had survived the fire, believing it to be a true miracle.

In 1881, the dowager empress accorded multiple noble ladies of the royal Belgian court the Starry Cross, after the engagement of Archduke Rudolf. [1]

Members of the Order wore the following insignia:

"An oval medallion, with a broad blue enameled border, inclosing a black enameled Eagle with two heads, and claws, both of gold, on which lies a Gold Cross, enameled green, and bordered with brown wood. Over this, on an intwined (sic) wreath in black letters, on a white ground, is the motto of the Order, "Salue et Gloria” – (Hail and Glory.) It is worn, pendent to a strip of black riband (sic), on the left breast."


  • Special Class - Diamond and Gemstone studded insignia only for the Grand Mistress.[2][3][4]
  • 1'st Class - Ruby Cross with Diamonds around the badge suspended from a Black ribbon; for Daughters and Grand daughters of the Sovereign and foreign Empresses, Queens, Grand Duchesses and Princess Consorts.
  • 2'nd Class - Smaller insignia with Diamonds around the badge suspended from a Black ribbon; for lesser Austrian Archduchesses and Princesses, Austrian Archduchesses by marriage, Daughters of Austrian Archduchesses, Austrian nobility and foreign Duchesses or Princesses.
  • 3'rd Class - Much smaller insignia without brilliants, suspended from a Black ribbon; for Austrian Princesses, Austrian Countesses, Austrian nobility and also foreign Princesses and nobility.

Grand Mistresses[edit]

Insignia of the Order

Current administration[edit]

According to the website of the Archdiocese of Vienna,[5] the order is ruled by :

  • Grand Mistress : Archduchess Gabriela [6]
  • Order Chancellor : Count Norbert Salburg-Falkenstein
  • Order Secretary : Altgraf Niklas zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Raitz


  • Tagore, Rajah Sir Sourindro Mohun. The Orders of Knighthood, British and Foreign. Calcutta: The Catholic Orphan Press, 1884.