An order of merit is an institution through which a State awards an honour to one of its citizens or to a foreign citizen.

The honour is recognition of a person’s merits and services rendered to the State and to society.

The award ceremony may be formal or more informal. The origins of modern orders of merit go back to medieval knights’ orders, which were of a monastic-religious nature. From the Renaissance onwards, European monarchs created and developed orders that are mainly dynastic and noble in nature. It was only with Napoleon, in 1802, and the “Legion of Honour”, that the first order of merit was created that could be awarded to any citizen without distinction of class and model; now there are numerous modern orders of merit in the western world. Below is a list of modern orders of merit recognised and awarded by the Italian Government, the Holy See and S.M.O.M.

Below is a list of modern orders of merit recognised and awarded by the Italian Government, the Holy See and S.M.O.M.

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