Father John Trigilio and Father Kenneth Brighenti tightened the “Web of Faith” they are weaving together with their investitture into the Military Constantinian Order of Saint George of the royal house of Bourbon – two Sicilies.
Father Trigilio, a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, is on the faculty at Mount St. Mary’s seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and is assisting Father Brighenti, pastor of St. Magdalen de Pazzi in Flemington, N.J., for the summer. They are well known for their series “Web of Faith,” which airs on EWTN, and for co-authoring many books, including “Catholicism for Dummies.”
The duo was nominated to the order by His Royal Highness Prince Carlo in September of 2020, but because of COVID had to prolong the investiture until August 1 of this year.
The investiture was performed by Father Edmund A. Luciano III, a priest from the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey who serves as the Vicar of Clergy for the American Delegation of the Constantinian Order.
During the ceremony, the inductees received a Mozzetta (cape), a Brevet (cap with pompom) and a cross insignia which are part of the uniform to be worn while attending any ceremony representing the order. They were also given a candle. “Wherever this candle is lighted or placed, we pray that the prince of darkness may depart in trembling from these places,” said Father Luciano.
“We pray that God will pour out His blessing on His servants so they will be armed with Your grace and power; that they may, by a life of virtue, overcome evil and be freed from all harm in the battles of life and persevere in Your loving kindness.”
The ceremony was held in the church before Mass began. The church was filled with brother priests, family, friends, parishioners and other members of the order.
“I’m very excited today and I was looking forward to this for over a year,” said Father Trigilio. “I was here helping out Father Ken for the summer. The fact that they arranged it so we could have the investiture here in the parish and the parishioners were able to see it made it very special.”
“The order is mostly a lay movement with a small amount of clergy. They do a lot of good social work similar to the Knights of Malta and the Holy Sepulchre,” he added. “This group has the duel function of doing charitable works but also promoting the Italian Catholic heritage and culture, however you do not have to be Italian to join.”
The Constantinian Order’s legendary origins go back to its namesake, Constantine the Great’s “Golden Militia.” Said to have been founded after the emperor’s vision of the Glorious Cross and victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D., the militia was placed under the patronage of the martyr St. George, and ostensibly formalized by decree of Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos Komnenos.
The American Delegation was founded in 1979 and is based in New York City. The International headquarters is in Naples and Rome, Italy.
The chivalric order works for the glorification of the Holy Cross, the propagation of the Catholic faith and the defense of the Church. Constantinian knights and dames must live as exemplary Christians. They participate in and promote the fullness of the Church’s rich liturgical and sacramental life.
According to the order’s statutes, knights and dames must be willing to take up any activity fostering the growth of religious principles. In modern times, this is expressed through hospital assistance, charitable work with the poor and the sick, supporting Catholic education and vocations, and the relief of persecuted Christians.
“I was attracted to the order because of the good work they do,” said Father Brightenti. “We know other clergy members of the Constintinian Order and also a number of the dames and knights, and we admired them for the work they do.”
Although the order is small in number, members are recognized and have a representative in the United Nations. Some of the more recent efforts helped to raise $50,000 for hospitals in southern Italy during the pandemic and raised money for Catholic schools in Pakistan.
The Constantinian Order does not solicit new membership. After serious, prayerful consideration, Catholics in good standing who are U.S. citizens over 18 may apply. For more information on the American Delegation, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Karen Corpora is a freelance writer for The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen New Jersey, and The AD Times, the newspaper of the Diocese of Allentown. Photos by Ed Koskey Jr., The Catholic Spirit.)
By Karen Corpora, Special to The Witness