CHRIST, ORDER OF TILE KNIGHTS OF, IN POR TUGAL. An order instituted in 1317, by King Diniz, of Portngal (1279-1325), and endowed with property confiscated from the Order of the Templars, which lie suppressed in 1314. It was founded in imitation of the Spanish or ders of Alefintara (q.v.) and Calat•ava (q.v.), and the lives of the Cistercians. The new order was established "for the defense of the faith, the discomfiture of the Moors, and the extension of the Portuguese monarchy." With some difficulty, Pope John XXII. was induced, in 1319, to sanction the new order, hut only on condition that the knights swore fealty to the Pope. and that their Grand Master made a special vow of such obedience before the abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Alcobaea. one of the largest and richest then extant, who was the Pope's special representative. The knights joined in all Portuguese crusades against the infidels, and also in their African and Indian expeditions, receiving in compensation continual additions to their own possessions. The Grand Prior of the order was invested by Pope Calix tus Ill, (1453-5S) with power equal to that of a bishop: and, as an encouragement to adven ture. the knights were promised all the coun tries which they might discover, to be held under the protection of Portugal. Under such favor
able conditions. it is no wonder that the order became immensely rich. its headquarters was the splendid castle of Thomar, 70 miles northeast of Lisbon, whence it had been in 1334 transferred from the castle of Castro Marino, at the mouth of the Guadiana. At length their wealth and power excited the jealousy of the kings of Por tugal: their future acquisitions, and subse quently even their actual possessions. were de clared to be Crown possessions, and the offices of -Administrator and Grand Master were trans ferred to the Crown. Noble descent, and three years' military service against the infidel, were required for admission. The members took the three monastic vows of velibaey, poverty, and obedience. till Pope Alexander VI. (1492-1503) released them from the first two, on condition of their applying the third part of their reve lines to the support of the Thomar cloister. the priests of which were bound by the three vows. In 1523 King John III. turned the order into a monastic one. in 1797 it was se•nlarizod, and it is now merely an honorary order. Its member ship. which is restricted to Catholics of noble descent, is very large.
The order was nationalized in Brazil in 1s23, but was dissolved in 1800.