Pope Francis bestows Order of St. Gregory award to UST associate professor chair

February 24, 2015

HOUSTON — The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter has announced that Pope Francis has named Professor Clinton Allen Brand a Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. 

The award was presented to Brand at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church at Mass on Feb. 1 by Monsignor Steven Lopes of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith. Monsignor Lopes read a letter from Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect for the Congregation, which acknowledges the Holy Father’s gratitude for Brand’s invaluable contribution in serving on the interdicasterial commission Anglicanae traditiones. 

In his letter, Cardinal Müller expresses his own gratitude for Brand’s contribution, “Your expertise in Reformation and post-Reformation English religious literature and culture has been of invaluable assistance to the Holy See.” 

He added, “Your work has already born fruit in the publication of Divine Worship: Occasional Services, a ritual book which I was indeed pleased to present both to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and to Pope Emeritus Benedict. The forthcoming publication of Divine Worship: The Missal will give further eloquent expression to the vision of Pope Benedict that the unity of faith can be preserved, even amplified, in a diversity of expression.”

The letter presented to Brand stresses, “This papal knighthood is a most fitting honor, given the deep connection between St. Gregory the Great and the evangelization of England and Wales. It is a gesture that also honors all of the clergy and faithful of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, for whenever sacred liturgy is celebrated worthily and well, God is glorified, grace abounds, and we are each drawn into the life-giving embrace of blessed communion.

“I offer you my sincere congratulations, professor, noting that this honor binds you even more intimately to the Chair of St. Peter,” Cardinal Müller added.

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, added his congratulations to Brand.

“Professor Brand brings a very precious quality to the work of the liturgist ... he listens to the people! He has been very attentive to the way that people coming from the Anglican tradition have prayed. His fine-tuned ear has been a critical part of this project of incorporating the elements of this living, organic patrimony into Catholic worship.”

Papal knighthood has long been a way for popes to acknowledge significant contributions by the lay faithful to the life of the Church. Since 2011, Brand has been a member of the Anglicanae traditions (Anglican traditions) Interdicasterial Commission, whose task has been to identify Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and to incorporate it into Catholic worship for the Ordinariates. 

The Papal Order of Saint Gregory was originally founded by Pope Gregory XVI on September 1, 1831, in four classes — Knights Grand Cross (First Class), Knights Grand Cross (Second Class), Knights Commander and Knights. The regulations concerning the grades and uniform were then expanded in a further Papal Bull dated May 30, 1834. 

As part of the reform of Papal Orders instituted by Saint Pius X on Feb. 7, 1905, the grades of the Order were modified by the addition of a Star for a higher category of Knights Commander and the suppression of the second class of Knight Grand Cross, paralleling the grades of the Ordine Piano and the newly founded Order of St. Sylvester. Pius X also assigned to the Papal Knights a particular place in Papal processions and ceremonies of the church.

Three Personal Ordinariates have been established by the Vatican since 2011: in the United Kingdom in 2011, the United States and Canada in 2012 and Australia, also in 2012. The way was open in November 2009 by an apostolic constitution of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called Anglicanorum coetibus (Groups of Anglicans) in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide who were seeking to become Catholic. The communities are Catholic, yet retain elements of Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.

Brand, who can now be addressed as Prof. Sir Clinton A. Brand, KSG, is associate professor of English at the University of St. Thomas and serves as Verger at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, the principal parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.