Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree establishing two new state decorations, the Order of St Catherine and a merit badge “For Benefaction,” to be awarded to Russian and foreign nationals who have made an important contribution to peace building, charity and humanitarian activity.
According to the decree published on the Kremlin website, the Order of St Catherine features a silver cross decorated with diamonds and an oval medallion in the middle carrying an icon of St Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian saint who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius.
The decoration appears to be a reincarnation of the Order of St Catherine that existed in the Imperial Russia. The original order was established by Peter the Great in 1713 and first bestowed upon his wife Empress Catherine. It was considered an exclusively female award, and there is only one known case when it was bestowed upon a man.
On Thursday, Medvedev awarded state decorations to about 50 Russians during a ceremony in the Kremlin. He said he had already signed a decree to award first St Catherine decorations to “several very decent women.” He would not specify who those women were.