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Made by: Unknown

On view in: Icon Room

About this object

The Order of St. Catherine, founded in 1714 by Peter the Great, was first presented to his wife Catherine to commemorate her role in the Pruth campaign against the Turks in Moldavia. It includes a central medallion, surrounded by diamonds, with a painted enamel image of St. Catherine wearing the martyr’s crown and holding a palm branch. Before her are a white cross and a wheel, the implement of her martyrdom. Awarded only to women, the badge was worn at the waist attached to a red sash.

Grand Cross or Badge of the Order of St. Catherine is two-sided. A central, oval medallion is framed within a cross-shaped gold armature set with diamonds of various sizes and cuts. At the top of this armature is an eight-armed star recalling the Star of the Order that would be used to attach the piece to the sash. The central medallion is surrounded by twenty similarly shaped and cut diamonds. On the medallion is painted an image of St. Catherine, seated, wearing a red cloak over a white chiton with the martyr’s crown on her head. With her right hand, she holds a large white equal-armed cross, in the center of which is a smaller equal-armed cross set with five diamonds. She holds the martyr’s palm in her left hand and seems to steady the spiked wheel, the implement of her martyrdom, against her knee with her left arm. The Cyrillic letters CBE (SVE) signifying “The Great Holy Martyr Catherine” appear within her halo. The Latin letters D S D R (sic -- should be D S F R) are painted above and below the ends of the white cross. They stand for the Latin motto “Domine Salvum Fac Regum (God Save the King)”. On the reverse is a second enamel medallion on which is painted with a scene of an eagle's nest set on a tree stump. A pair of adult eagles in the foreground kills and gathers snakes – symbols of evil –, which they use to feed the three eaglets in the nest. On a white band above this is inscribed the motto ÆQUAT : MUNIA : COMPARIS. This phrase is sometimes translated as “Share the Duties of Society,” but Russian sources tend to render it as “Share the Duties of One’s Spouse,” a phrase that seems to fit the origins of the Order. Badge came in original box covered with pink velvet bordered with silver braid and lined with white satin.

Object name:
Made from:
Gold -- silver -- enamel -- diamonds
Made in:
Date made:
late 18th Century
12.7 × 9.2 cm (5 × 3 5/8 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
INSCRIPTION S.V. E. in Cyrillic for The Holy Great Martyr Catherine; D S D R in Latin (should be D S F R ) for Domine salvum fac regnum (Lord save the King) [On front] Aequat Munia Comparis (Share the Duties of Society) [On back]
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973