|Type Order of knighthood|
Established 3 March 1951
|Eligibility Civilian and military divisions|
Awarded for Meritorious service or achievement
Next (lower) Military Order of Italy
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italian: Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana) was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951. The highest ranking honour of the Republic, it is awarded for "merit acquired by the nation" in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers. The post-nominal letters for the order are OMRI. The order effectively replaced as national orders the Civil Order of Savoy (1831), the Order of the Crown of Italy (1868), the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (1572) and the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (1362).
Investiture takes place biannually on 2 June, anniversary of the foundation of the Republic and on 27 December, anniversary of the promulgation of the Italian Constitution. However, those awards on Presidential motu proprio, related to termination of service or granted to foreigners may be made at any time. The badge, modified in 2001, bears the inscription Al Merito della Repubblica encircling the national coat of arms on the obverse and the Latin Patriæ Unitati (the union of the country) and Civium Libertati (the liberty of the people) encircling the head of Italia Turrita on the reverse. The five degrees with corresponding ribbons are as follows (with numbers to June 2013):
The order is bestowed by decree of the President of the Italian Republic, as head of the orders of knighthood, on the recommendation of the President of the Council of Ministers. Except in exceptional circumstances, no one can be awarded for the first time a rank higher than Knight. The minimum age requirement is normally 35.
Knights Grand Cross with Collar