Order of Pius IX (Pian Order)
Founded by Pope Pius IX on June 17, 1847, the Order recognises outstanding service for the Church and society and may be awarded to non-Catholics as well as Catholics. The title of nobility formerly attached to membership was abolished by Pius XII in 1939. In 1957 he instituted the Grand Collar as the highest category of the Order, complementing the other classes of Knights and Dames of the Grand Cross (GCPO); Knight and Dame Commanders with star (con Placa) (KC*PO, DC*PO) and without star (KCPO, DCPO); and Knights and Dames (KPO/DPO). The words Virtuti et Merito (Virtue and Merit) are engraved around the white medallion in the centre which portrays the name of the founder. The feast day of Blessed Pius IX is 7 February.