by Vincenzo D'Urso
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The Savoys, who ruled the Kingdom of Sicily for a few years early in the eighteenth century, were nearly forgotten by most Sicilians before Garibaldi's invasion in 1860, which made the Royal House of Savoy the Royal House of Italy. Prince Vittorio Emanuele, Duke of Savoy, son of King Umberto II of Italy (the last Italian monarch, who died in 1983), bestows the Order of the Annunciation, the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus and the Order of Merit of Savoy. Vittorio Emanuele and his son, Prince Emanuele Filiberto, live in exile outside Geneva, prevented by the 1948 Constitution from entering Italy. Born in Switzerland, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia is the only living European who for an entire lifetime has been forbidden from entering his own country. Long before the Order of Saint Lazarus came to be associated with the Dukes of Savoy in the sixteenth century (a historically complex chain of events), it sponsored the hospital of Saint John of the Lepers,
Compared to the Order of Malta, the Order of the Holy Sepulchre seems to have less social status in Italy, even though it is bestowed on the authority of the Pope. It sponsors charitable work, and its Sicilian knights celebrate their religious ceremonies in the austere medieval Church of San Cataldo, near the Martorana Church in central Palermo.
Whoever said chivalry was dead hadn't been to Sicily recently.
About the Author: Palermo-born Professor Vincenzo D'Urso, who teaches in Germany, specialises in Sicilian medieval history.