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About the Order fo St. Stanislas


2015 marks the 250th Anniversary of the Order of St. Stanislas!


The Order of Saint Stanislas was established on the 8th of May 1765, by King Stanislas II Augustus Poniatowski, the last native King of the Commonwealth of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Order of Saint Stanislas was established by King Stanislas Agustus Poniatowski to honour the Patron of Poland and to reward those who deserved it. It was a one class order and the highest decoration after the Order of the White Eagle which was first established in 1325.


The Companions of the Order of Saint Stanislas, who were, at this time, limited in number to 100 persons had to prove descent from the nobility for at least five generations. Their duty, in the first instance, was faithfulness and obedience to the Monarch and State, and they were obliged to do charity work. At their investiture ceremonies they paid twenty-five (25) red zloty for the upkeep of the Order. In those days, this was a very large sum. The members of the Order of Saint Stanislas had to undertake to pay to the hospital of Jesus the Child in Warsaw. The annual oblation was four (4) red zlotys.


The first investiture ceremony, of the Order of Saint Stanislas, took place on the 8th of May in 1765. The Investiture was held in the Church of the Holy Cross, in Warsaw. Thirty-five (35) Companions of the Order were created on that day in May. The day of the feast of Saint Stanislas (8th May), then became the feast day of the Order. The insignia of the Order of Saint Stanislas consisted of four armed Polish gold crosses, with red enamel, gold ball tips, and a white border. Between each arm was an uncrowned Polish eagle (in the first version of the insignia) and crowned eagles in the later productions. The centre enamelled disk had the likeness of Saint Stanislas holding a staff with the letters SS on the side. The reverse centre disk had the King's monogram S.A. The Order was bestowed in a single class and was worn as a sash hanging over the right shoulder to the left hip. Among the first Companions of the Order of Saint Stanislas were seven members of the Nowina clan. This was the clan of the original saint's mother, but the clan split into several important families that had taken their surnames from their manors and villages. They were:


  • Jacek Nowina-Bzowski (1750-1808), Burgrave of Krakow Castle.

  • Count Jacek Nowina-Jezierski (1722-1805), Castellan of Lukow.

  • Count Adam Nowina-Przerebski (1773-1811), the last of this very important family, that had held many of the State Offices from the XVth to XVIIIth centuries.

  • Count Maciej Nowina-Mielzynski (1731-1797), speaker of the Sejm (Parliament).

  • Count Maximilian Nowina-Mielzynski (1738-1799), member of the Sejm; Count Celestyn Nowina-Sokolnicki (1752-1819) a member of the Sejm and one of the leaders of the reform group.

  • Count Piotr Prokop Nowina-Sokolnicki (1762-1808), a member of the Sejm, and future Minister of Justice.

  • Count Piotr Prokop Nowina-Sokolnicki was the great/great/great/grandfather of the first Grand Master of the charitable Order of Saint Stanislas.


After the third and last partition of the old Polish Commonwealth in 1795, between Russia, Austria and Prussia, the Order of Saint Stanislas fell into abeyance. As a result of Napoleon's victories, and freed from occupation, the central area of Poland was created into the 'Duchy of Warsaw' under Frederick Augustus I King of Saxony, who became the second Grand Master, renewing the bestowal of the Order of Saint Stanislas. He added a second white stripe to the border of the sash.


As a result of post-Napoleonic reorganisation of Europe, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Kingdom of Poland was created with Emperor Alexander I of Russia as King of Poland. Alexander I, as the third Grand Master of the Order divided the Order into four classes and the condition to receive a higher class was to have already received a lower class. The obligation of annual payment for the hospital in Warsaw was kept. All persons Knighted into the Order bore the title of 'Companion of Saint Stanislas'. After the Polish-Russian war of 1830-1831, the Kingdom of Poland was united to the Russian Empire. Emperor and King Nicholas I (1825-1855) as Grand Master of the Order included it into the Orders of the Russian Empire and it was ranked fifth after the Russian Order of Saint Anne. Under the Grand mastership of Czara Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III, and Nicholas II, the Order was granted to subjects of the Kingdom of Poland and the Russian Empire in particular, to those who held Christian virtues. During that period, bestowal of the Order was accompanied with a grant of nobility. All Companions paid 300 rubles as a passage fee and were obliged to support charities such as hospitals, hospices, orphanages etc.


With the Russian Revolution, Czar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate in March 1917. The Order of Saint Stanislas once again fell into abeyance. The restored Independent Republic of Poland did NOT re-establish the Order of Saint Stanislas, but was instead it was superceeded by the Order of Polonia Restituta.


On the 9th of June in 1979, the Order of Saint Stanislas was re-established in five classes by the one of the two former legitimate Polish Governments In Exile, which was based in London. From the 9th of June in 1979, until the 20th of December in 1990, the former Polish Government (In Exile) used the Order of Saint Stanislas as a weapon against communism. The Order was bestowed upon worthy individuals. These individuals had been at the forefront in the struggle against communism. The Order had a very high profile in the struggle for independence, and the work being done by the European Central Council, which was a group of Freedom Fighters made up of the following Governments(In Exile):


  • The Kingdom of Ethnic Albania

  • The Kingdom of Bulgaria

  • The Independent State of Croatia

  • The Czechslovakian Government (In Exile)

  • The Republic of Free Estonia

  • The Polish Government (In Exile)

  • The Kingdom of Roumania

  • The Republic of Latvia

  • The Republic of Lithuania

  • The Republic of the Ukraine


Many members of the above listed legitimate Governments (In Exile) were decorated with various grades of the Order of Saint Stanislas. Upon re-establishment [as a charitable order] in 1979, the first Diploma of the Order of Saint Stanislas, along with the Grand Cross and Sash were placed at the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland (Poland's most sacred shrine), by the Reverend General Bernard Witucki, a famous Polish General and a Minister in President Sokolnicki's Government. Later, the second Dipolma of the Order of Saint Stanislas, together with the Grand Cross and Sash, were presented to His Holiness Pope John Paul II by His Eminence Bishop Ignacy Jez, Bishop of the Diocese of Koszalin and Kolobrezeg during the Papal visit to Poland in 1989. His Holiness wished the Order well and the decoration that was presented to him is now on display at the Royal Castle in Krakow.


In 1990, following the withdrawal of Soviet Forces from Polish soil and the free election of a new and democratic President, "both" Polish Government's (In Exile) were merged with the now legal Government in Warsaw on the 20 th of December in 1990. Control of all Polish decorations was returned to Warsaw, but by a decree that was signed by the President and all Ministers of the Polish Government (In Exile) the Order of Saint Stanislas was made an independent charitable order of chivalry, entrusted with a special role to assist the poor in Poland and Eastern Europe.


The Order of Saint Stanislas is now a worldwide organisation with Priories established in most countries. The Order is a true international Brotherhood made up of Honourable men and women who have a very real concern for their fellow human beings and wanting to make a difference. Membership into the Order is by invitation from a member in good standing.

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