Order of the Holy Ghost

Originally established by Guy de Montpellier as a religous order in 1178, the Order of the Holy Ghost operated one of the most respected hospitals in Rome and soon spread to more than four hundred houses across Europe. By the fifteenth century the order took on a military character as well, with the “Militia of the Holy Ghost,” but in 1459 Pope Pius II removed the lay knights, restoring the order as one strictly religious.

In 1619, the order was split, with one master in Rome for Italy, Sicily, England, and Hungary and one in Montpellier for France and Spain. The French division of the order once again instituted the “Militia of the Holy Ghost,” granting knighthood to lay persons in the service of arms; critics charge that the order is using the knighthoods to enrich its members, alleging that some of the knights are not of gentle birth. At present neither the king nor the pope have attempted to stop the granting of knighthoods by the order, however.


Order of the Holy Ghost

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