Constitution of the Abbey-Principality


This Constitution replaces the declarative Constitution promulgated by Prince-Abbot Edmond I on 22 June 1954 and notarized by him in the City of San Francisco, California.


1. The Abbey-Principality of San Luigi is a traditional Catholic sovereign principality. It was founded on St Louis’ Day, 25 August 1883, at Ghadames in the Touareg-Azgar country (Tripolitania-Fezzan, now part of modern Libya) by members of the Benedictine Order, with the Revd. Fr. Dom Henrice Pacomez elected the first Prince-Abbot and recognized as such by the French government and the Roman Catholic Church. The dignity of Prince-Abbot is of the same character as the Papal titles of prince-abbot and prince-bishop which historically carried with them territorial sovereignty.

2. On 2 August 1884, Prince-Abbot José I (Dom José Piantini) was murdered by the local population and the remaining monks were driven out of the abbey by force and exiled.

3. On 15 March 1885, Prince-Abbot José II (Dom José Mendoza) and his four surviving brother monks arrived in Bunyoro-Kitara (today part of Uganda). Omukama (King) Chwa II Kabalega of Bunyoro-Kitara formally recognized the Prince-Abbot and granted the monks territory in Bunyoro where they re-established the Abbey. He conferred upon the Prince-Abbot the title of “Mukungu of the Chieftainship of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fizzan)” (incorrectly transcribed “Makougos” in a number of later documents) The title of Mukungu is translated as “Prince-Governor”. The monks remained in Bunyoro until 1888 when an epidemic of tropical fever left Prince-Abbot José II the only survivor; he therefore closed the Abbey in Bunyoro and returned to Europe.

4. As a former territorial sovereign, the Prince-Abbot in exile and his successors retained the jus honorum, the jus majestatis and all other sovereign rights attaching to his rank. There was at no time any act of abdication or renunciation of these rights.

5. On 7 May 1899, in a ceremony before the Mayor of Seine-Port, Prince-Abbot Louis-François (de Girardot), transferred the Abbey-Principality and its dependent chivalric Orders, these being The Sovereign, Knightly and Noble Order of the Lion and the Black Cross (L’Ordre Souverain, Chevaleresque et Nobilaire du Lion et de la Croix Noire, known also as The Sovereign, Knightly and Noble Order of the Lion and the Black Star) established by Prince-Abbot Henrice on 15 October 1883, together with a separate Order of the Crown of Thorns likewise established by Prince-Abbot Henrice on 15 October 1883, to Archbishop Joseph-René Vilatte (Mar Timotheus) (Prince-Abbot Joseph III), of the Old Catholic Church of America, who was also Grand Master of The Chivalrous and Religious Order of the Crown of Thorns (L’Ordre Souverain, Chevaleresque, Nobilaire et Religieux de la Couronne d’Epines) of the 1891 re-foundation by the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch. By this transferral, the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi and the San Luigi Orders (comprising the united branches of The Chivalrous and Religious Order of the Crown of Thorns and The Sovereign, Knightly and Noble Order of the Lion and the Black Cross) became autocephalous of the Roman Catholic Church and acquired an Old and Traditional Catholic character.

6. The Grand Prix Humanitaire de France et des Colonies was additionally attached to the San Luigi Orders by the transfer of 1899, and was awarded by Prince-Abbot Joseph III on multiple occasions. The Order of Antioch was founded in 1928 by Archbishop Frederick E.J. Lloyd of the American Catholic Church and was attached to the San Luigi Orders upon his death in 1933, a further branch being absorbed in June 1963. From 1960 onwards each Order was placed under a High Protector. In the case of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, this was the late King Peter II of Yugoslavia and since his death in 1970 this position has been left vacant in his memory. The Order of the Lion and the Black Cross appointed as its High Protector the Crown Prince, now H.I.M. Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan. The Order of Antioch appointed as its High Protector H.I.R.H. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, who died in 1994, since when this position has been vacant.

7. A Patriarchal Bull of 7 June 1946 issued by the Prince-Catholicos of the Catholicate of the West declared “(1) That the said Old Catholic Church of America (commonly called “The Ancient Christian Fellowship”) is the only lawfully constituted body in continuance of and in continuity with The Old Catholic Church of America erected by the consecration of the said Most Reverend Joseph-René Vilatte in 1892; (2) That the said Most Reverend Wallace David de Ortega Maxey by the title and style of His Beatitude Mar David I, Patriarch of Malaga, Apostolic Primate of all the Iberians, and Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas is the only lawful successor in America of the said Mar Timotheus I (Joseph René Vilatte) in respect of The Old Catholic Church of America founded by him.” By an instrument of 31 July 1946 the Ancient Christian Fellowship (Old Catholic Church of America) merged with the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

8. In 1899, Omukama Chwa II Kabalega of Bunyoro-Kitara was defeated by the British and exiled to the Seychelles. The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara was suppressed by the Ugandan government in 1967 but restored under Statute 8 of 1993. In that year the current Omukama, H.M. Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, who is the grandson of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, ascended the throne. The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara is recognized under Chapter 16, Section 246 of the Ugandan Constitution and in the Amendment (No. 2) Act 2005, 5 Schedule – Article 8 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and the Omukama is established as a constitutional monarch retaining all dynastic and nobiliary rights intact.

9. The succession to the Abbey-Principality entered a period of interregnum following the lengthy incapacity of Prince-Abbot Edmond II (Lyman). He died in 1998. He had formerly been a bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Province of the West. The constitutional provisions set out by Prince-Abbot Edmond I in his Declaration of 22 June 1954 include specific measures to deal with the incapacity of a Prince-Abbot and to determine the succession in such circumstances, the power of election being reserved to the Supreme Council in the absence of the reigning Prince-Abbot having nominated a successor.

10. The Grand Priory of England of the San Luigi Orders, also representative of the Supreme Council from 1970 onwards, has been in continuous existence since the reign of Prince-Abbot Edmond I and continues to exist today, as is the case in respect of the episcopal succession in the Antiochean line from Prince-Abbot Edmond II. As the small membership of the Orders in continental Europe died out, and with no provision for the succession in the United States having been made by Edmond II, the Grand Priory of England was eventually left as the only canonical and continuous successor of the former Grand Magistry and Supreme Council. These factors enabled the eventual restoration of the Abbey-Principality and the succession of the current Prince-Abbot, the Most Revd. John Kersey O.C.R., who is Archbishop of Great Britain in the Apostolic Episcopal Church. His succession was duly endorsed by the Grand Priory and Supreme Council (following the constitutional provisions set out by Prince-Abbot Edmond I in his Declaration of 22 June 1954) and the Apostolic Episcopal Church. He took the regnal name Edmond III in commemoration of his predecessors.

The symbolic date chosen for the restoration of the Abbey-Principality was 25 August 2011, this date being the 128th anniversary of the foundation of the Abbey-Principality.

11. In January 2012, H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara determined in his wisdom that the succession to the 1885 title of “Mukungu of the Chieftainship of the Ancient Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fizzan)” should be determined in favour of the current Prince-Abbot, the Most Revd. John Kersey, and that this dignity should be assigned with provision that all future holders should be bishops holding the succession of the Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum, that of its mother jurisdiction the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and the succession of the Prince-Abbots from Prince-Abbot Joseph III, and issued Letters Patent to this effect. H.M. the Omukama graciously agreed to become a Royal Patron of the Orders of the Lion and the Black Cross and of the Crown of Thorns.

12. The instruments proclaiming the succession of the Prince-Abbot are the Deed of Election and Succession no. 2011/1, the Certificate of Election, and San Luigi Gazette Notice no. 2012/01. The instruments re-establishing the title of “Mukungu of the Chieftainship of the Ancient Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fizzan)” are the Royal Letters Patent of H.M. the Omukama of 25 January 2012 and Royal Bulletin 020-RB-KBK-2012.


13. The Abbey-Principality exists today as a formerly reigning sovereign principality and a subject in international law. Its work is as a religious, nobiliary and chivalric entity professing the undivided traditional Catholic faith and holding the jus honorum by virtue of its sovereign status.

14. The Abbey-Principality enjoys perpetual succession.

15. For the avoidance of confusion, it is stated that the Abbey-Principality is:

a) the original sovereign Abbey-Principality founded in Ghadames in the Fezzan on 25 August 1883, recognized at that time by the French government and the Holy See, and that has continued to the present day.

b) (in the person of the Prince-Abbot) recognized as successor to the title “Mukungu of the Chieftainship of the Ancient Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fizzan)” (created by H.M. Omukama Chwa II Kabalega of Bunyoro-Kitara in 1885), by H.M. Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, the reigning Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. The title Mukungu is translated as Prince-Governor.

c) recognized by H.M. King Peter II of Yugoslavia in his letters patent to Prince-Abbot Edmond II of 22 March 1962 and further by his High Protectorship of the Order of the Crown of Thorns until his death in 1970.

d) recognized by the Imperial House of Japan in the acceptance in 1960 of the High Protectorship of the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross by Crown Prince Akihito (now H.I.M. the Emperor of Japan).

e) recognized by H.M. King Frederik IX of Denmark in his acceptance in October 1960 of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns.

f) recognized by H.M. King Haakon VII of Norway in his acceptance of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns for himself and for H.M. Queen Maud.

g) recognized by the Imperial and Royal House of Hohenzollern in the acceptance in 1960 of the High Protectorship of the Order of Antioch by H.I.R.H. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, and previously in the acceptance of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns by H.I.R.H. Prince Wilhelm of Prussia.

h) recognized by H.H. Sawai Man Singh II, Maharaja of Jaipur, in his acceptance of the Royal Patronage of the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross and the Grand Prix Humanitaire.

etc., etc.

16. The Abbey-Principality recognizes that in the climate of uncertainty following the incapacity of Prince-Abbot Edmond II there may be other individuals or organizations which have attributed the San Luigi titles and powers to themselves on an independent basis, whether in good faith or otherwise, and all such do not form part of the canonical and legitimate continuation of the Abbey-Principality. However, the Abbey-Principality may create alliances with such groups or individuals for the promotion of the charitable, religious and other aims of the Abbey-Principality.

17. The Abbey-Principality today no longer has responsibility for territorial governance in Bunyoro-Kitara, and no claim for territory, material goods or wealth of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom may be submitted by the Abbey-Principality or anyone acting on its behalf.

18. The Abbey-Principality aims ultimately to secure the territorial restoration of the original Abbey-Principality in Libya, but is aware that political and related considerations are likely to preclude this objective for the time being.

19. The Abbey-Principality preserves the jus legationis and may enter into treaty relations and similar agreements of alliance and friendship with the governments or governments-in-exile of states, and with current or formerly-reigning members of Royal Houses. It may appoint and accredit diplomatic representatives and seek and grant diplomatic recognition to other entities.

20. The Abbey-Principality or the Prince-Abbot on its behalf may operate bank accounts, solicit donations for its own and other causes, sue and be sued, and do such other things as are necessary for effective governance.

21. Identity cards may be issued to persons recognized as citizens of the Abbey-Principality. Citizenship of the Abbey-Principality is customarily held as a dual citizenship; it does not entitle the holder to any form of exemption or privilege so far as taxation or other obligations to another country of which they may be a citizen are concerned.

22. The Abbey-Principality may maintain a ceremonial guard corps.

23. The Abbey-Principality may issue coinage and stamps.


24. The Abbey-Principality represents a witness to the Catholic faith that is in keeping with the Canon of St Vincent of Lérins and the 1889 Declaration of Utrecht and that accepts neither the First nor the Second Vatican Councils. The Mass is celebrated exclusively according to liturgies adjudged to conform to the Tridentine, pre-Vatican II form. Within the jurisdiction, clergy, who must be male, are ordained exclusively according to the Tridentine, pre-Vatican II form.

25. In unity with the Order of Antioch and other associated religious denominations, the Abbey-Principality may appoint clergy and officers to serve its mission. Where appropriate it may admit men to the monastic life according to the Rule of St Benedict, functioning as a dispersed order for the time being.

26. The Abbey-Principality has responsibility for upholding the devotional mission of its original foundation and in particular for its devotion to St Louis. St Louis’ Day (25 August) is celebrated as the anniversary of the foundation of the Abbey-Principality.

27. The martyrdom of Prince-Abbot José I on 2 August 1884 is commemorated as an annual solemnity within the Abbey-Principality.

28. The Abbey-Principality has further responsibility for holding the following in prayer: the present Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, his predecessor our benefactor Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, the Royal House of Bunyoro-Kitara and the people of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom (Banyoro); the past and present High Protectors and Royal Patrons of the San Luigi Orders; the past and present Officers and Members of the San Luigi Orders.


29. The Abbey-Principality preserves the traditions of Nobility that are a historic part of the Catholic Church, with a special devotion to the Roman Nobility and those noble and chivalric traditions that are the preserve of the Old Catholic and Free Catholic Churches.

30. The Prince-Abbot, as holder of the jus honorum, may create, recognize and rehabilitate titles of nobility. According to precedent established by previous Prince-Abbots, such titles follow the forms established by the Roman Catholic Church in nobiliary matters. The titles presently conceded are those of duke, marquis, count and baron. These titles follow the protocols established for members of the nobility of the Abbey-Principality.

31. The Prince-Abbot is de jure Grand Master of the San Luigi Orders and has responsibility for their governance, for the appointment of their officers and members, and for such other matters as are established in the respective Statutes.

32. The Prince-Abbot may institute other orders of chivalry or cause existing orders to be brought under the aegis of the Abbey-Principality, making such arrangements for their continuation as may be appropriate at the time.

33. The Prince-Abbot may authorize the issue of commemorative medals and insignia as appropriate.

34. All titles established under Prince-Abbots Edmond I and Edmond II and their predecessors are automatically recognized upon production of satisfactory proof of their conferral. Other titles will be subject to investigation on an individual basis. Any suitable person who before the year 2012 has received such a title from a person purporting to represent the Abbey-Principality irregularly but in good faith may be admitted to the same title within the Abbey-Principality upon production of proof of conferral, but subject to the withdrawal of their allegiance from any irregular body.

35. The Abbey-Principality shall maintain the International College of Arms of the Noblesse which shall on its behalf matriculate, register and govern the use of ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical Arms accordingly within the sphere of its influence and operations. It may appoint Officers of Arms according to the traditional manner.


36. The Prince-Abbot is constituted a Corporation Sole under the law of San Luigi and has the status internationally of the head of a formerly ruling sovereign house.

37. The formal title of the Prince-Abbot is His Serene Highness the Most Reverend… This form is applicable because under the terms of this Constitution the Prince-Abbot will always be a bishop. This title is abbreviated to His Serene Highness in quotidian use.

38. The Prince-Abbot may appoint a Council of Guidance or other body or officers of an advisory nature. He is responsible for appointing members to the Supreme Council.

39. The Prince-Abbot is responsible for the appointment of his successor. His successor must be a bishop who is in the Apostolic Succession of E.A.D.M., the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the previous Prince-Abbots of San Luigi. In the event that the Prince-Abbot dies, is permanently incapacitated or otherwise leaves office without having named a successor, power of such election is given to the Supreme Council acting on his behalf.

40. Only males are eligible to succeed to the title of Prince-Abbot.

41. The Prince-Abbot may be married, in which case his wife shall bear the courtesy title of Princess (Principessa). His children bear the courtesy title of Duke or Duchess de San Luigi unless possessing a title in their own right.


42. The Insignia of the Abbey-Principality are as exemplified below:

Original, 1883

Renewed, 2012

43. All members of the San Luigi Orders, and others having connexion with the Principality with permission from the Prince-Abbot, may wear the authorized uniform of the Principality which is as given in the appropriate Protocol.

44. The Banner and the Flag of the Abbey-Principality are of white silk, edged gold, bearing the San Luigi Insignia.

45. The Flag, the Banner and the Insignia may be used by the Abbey-Principality itself and by individual Members in good standing.

46. The Seal of the Abbey-Principality shall be the Insignia of the Abbey-Principality surrounded by a vesica piscis. It shall be used by the Prince-Abbot and must be affixed to all diplomas and other important documents.

47. The Motto of the Abbey-Principality is in Latin “Quid Non Deo Juvante”, translated as “What can we not do with God’s aid?”.


48. Pending the territorial restoration of the Abbey-Principality in Libya, the spiritual (titular) and administrative seats of the Abbey-Principality shall be in the place established by the Prince-Abbot. At present, the administrative seat of the Abbey-Principality is in Shropshire, England.

49. The Treasurer of the Abbey-Principality should, where appointed, reside in the same country as the Prince-Abbot.


50. The Anthems of the Abbey-Principality shall be “The Knights of the Crown of Thorns”, which was especially composed for it by the late Chevalier Frederick Bowman, and “Partant pour la Syrie”.

51. The Anthems shall be played at all significant meetings of the Abbey-Principality.


52. The Abbey-Principality may appoint International Representatives for the coordination of its mission who shall be accountable directly to the Prince-Abbot.

53. The Abbey-Principality upholds the Divine Right of Monarchy.

54. The system of Canon Law of the Abbey-Principality is the Canon Law of the Catholic Church as that system of law was understood prior to 1870, with such necessary amendments as may be prescribed from time to time.

55. The system of secular law of the Abbey-Principality is subordinate to the normal system of secular law in those countries where the Abbey-Principality does not enjoy territorial or extra-territorial governance. In secular matters where the Abbey-Principality is the body with responsibility for legal determination, such determination shall occur in the light of the following overriding principle:

“Every person, apart from being the sole owner of his physical body, has the right to employ his private property in any way he sees fit so long as in so doing he does not uninvitedly change the physical integrity of another person’s body or property. All interpersonal exchanges and all exchanges of property titles between private owners are to be voluntary (contractual). These rights of a person are absolute. Any person’s infringement on them is subject to lawful prosecution by the victim of this infringement or his agent, and is actionable in accordance with the principles of the proportionality of punishment and of strict liability.”

(Hans-Hermann Hoppe)

56. The official currency of the Abbey-Principality is gold and silver bullion, either in the form of coins denominated in fractions of the troy ounce, or in ingots. The unit of currency is the San Luigi troy pound (SLT), defined as one troy pound of sterling silver. The pound sterling is equal to twenty troy shillings (Ts) and each shilling is equal to twelve troy pennies (Td). The penny represents one pennyweight of sterling silver, one twentieth of a troy ounce and one two hundred and fortieth of a troy pound. The San Luigi troy guinea (SLG) represents one troy pound of gold; other gold coinage may be denominated in fractions of the troy guinea. The relationship between the value of gold and silver coinage is determined by the free market.

57. The use of banknotes, promissory notes or other forms of fiat currency is not permitted by the Abbey-Principality.


58. The Official Language of the Abbey-Principality is now English, having formerly been French.

59. All Brevets and Letters Patent of the Abbey-Principality shall be issued in English. The use of French as a supplementary language is permitted.


60. This Constitution may be amended by agreement of the Prince-Abbot.

Approved this twenty-sixth day of January in the year of Our Lord two thousand and twelve and amended this twenty-ninth day of May two thousand and twenty-three:

Prince-Abbot of San Luigi
Mukungu of the Chieftainship of the Ancient Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fezzan)