III International Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry – Templarism”.

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The Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol (CITA) of Vila Nova da Barquinha promoted, on the weekend of November 13th and 14th, the III International Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry – Templarism”.

The municipal auditorium hosted some of the best national and international experts on the subject, with speakers from countries such as Spain, the United States, Croatia and Portugal: Luis de Matos (Chancellor of OSMTHU), Carlos Trincão (Teacher and member of TREF), Álvaro Barbosa (Architect and former director of Convento de Cristo), Virgílio Alves (Philosopher and Senior Technician in Public Administration), João Pedro Silva (Researcher and member of OSMTHU), Ernesto Alves Jana (Historian and member of TREF), Jefferson Perry (former -military), José Miguel Navarro (OSMTHU’s Senescal expert in security systems), Lovro Tomasinec (Croatian Order of Knights Templar OSMTH) and Manuel J. Gandra (CITA Researcher and Curator).

The book “Almourol – 850th anniversary of its foundation, in the context of the Order of the Temple in Portugal”, was launched at the event.

Fernando Freire, Mayor of the City Council, and Paula Pontes, Councilor for the Department of Culture, were present at the conference. The initiative also featured the musical animation of Fernando Espanhol, in a medieval music moment.

The Almourol Templar Interpretation Center is the first of its kind in Portugal. It has a permanent exhibition room, a space for temporary exhibitions and a projection room for films on the theme of the Templars. The Library – Templar Archives is also located in the same building, which has a vast literary collection dedicated to this theme, the result of donations from Teresa Furtado and Manuel J. Gandra.

Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol; Largo 1.º Dezembro; 2260-403 Vila Nova da Barquinha Tel.: 249720358E-mail: cita@cm-vnbarquinha.pt

III Conferência Internacional “Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo”

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O Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol (CITA) de Vila Nova da Barquinha promoveu, no fim de semana de 13 e 14 de novembro, a III Conferência Internacional “Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo”.

O auditório municipal acolheu alguns dos maiores especialistas nacionais e internacionais na temática, com oradores oriundos de países como Espanha, Estados Unidos, Croácia e Portugal: Luis de Matos (Chanceler da OSMTHU), Carlos Trincão (Professor e membro do TREF), Álvaro Barbosa (Arquiteto e ex-diretor do Convento de Cristo), Virgílio Alves (Filósofo e Técnico Superior na Administração Pública), João Pedro Silva (Investigador e membro da OSMTHU), Ernesto Alves Jana (Historiador e membro do TREF), Jefferson Perry (ex-militar), José Miguel Navarro (Senescal da OSMTHU perito em sistemas de segurança), Lovro Tomasinec (Croatian Order of Knights Templar O.S.M.T.H.) e Manuel J. Gandra (Investigador e Curador do CITA).

O evento foi marcado pelo lançamento do livro “Almourol – 850.º aniversário da sua fundação, no contexto da Ordem do Templo em Portugal”, efeméride que se assinala este ano.

Marcaram presença na conferência Fernando Freire, Presidente da Câmara Municipal, e Paula Pontes, Vereadora do Pelouro da Cultura. A iniciativa contou ainda com a animação musical de Fernando Espanhol, num registo de música medieval.

O Centro de Interpretação Templário Almourol é o primeiro do género em Portugal. Dispõe de uma sala de exposição permanente, espaço de exposições temporárias e de uma sala de projeção de filmes sobre a temática dos templários. No mesmo edifício funciona também a Biblioteca – Arquivo Templário, que dispõe de um vasto acervo literário dedicado a este tema, fruto das doações de Teresa Furtado e de Manuel J. Gandra.

Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol Largo 1.º Dezembro2260-403 Vila Nova da Barquinha Tel.: 249720358E-mail: cita@cm-vnbarquinha.ptHorário:- Dias úteis: 9h00 às 12h30 / 14h00 às 17h30- Fins de semana/feriados: 10h00 às 13h00 / 15h00 às 18h00(encerra à 2.ª feira de 1 de outubro a 30 de abril).

Templar Grand Priory of Portugal Confers Knighthood, October 2021

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The Templar Grand Priory of Portugal (OSMTHU) has met in National Chapter to confer Knighthood. As the Grand Priory still performs the a very long and private ceremony, that follows traditional liturgy, including full vigil and final instruction, just a short glimpse is available in the form of a 1 minute clip. It is also a requirement of the Order that the names of those upon whom Knighthood was conferred should be named. We welcome to the Order Dame Maria de Lurdes Polainas, DTJ; Fr+ António Polainas, KTJ; Fr+ Fernando Miranda, KTJ; Fr+ Fernando Pereira, KTJ and Fr+ Luis Ferreira, KTJ. We wish to thank singer Helena Lourenço for lending a celestial dimension to an already unforgettable spiritual experience.

O Grão Priorado de Portugal da OSMTHU reuniu-se em Capítulo Nacional para conferir a Cavalaria. Uma vez que os Templários Portugueses ainda realizam a cerimónia seguindo a liturgia tradicional, muito longa, que inclui a vigília completa e instrução final, de carácter interior, apenas um breve vislumbre está disponível na forma de um clip de 1 minuto. É também um requisito da Ordem que os nomes daqueles a quem a Cavalaria for conferida sejam tornados públicos. Damos por isso as boas-vindas à Ordem aos novos Irmãos e Irmãs Dama Maria de Lurdes Polainas, DTJ; Fr + António Polainas, KTJ; Fr + Fernando Miranda, KTJ; Fr + Fernando Pereira, KTJ e Fr + Luis Ferreira, KTJ. Gostaríamos finalmente de agradecer à cantora Helena Lourenço por emprestar uma dimensão celestial a uma experiência espiritual já de si inesquecível.

Burg Lahneck – Centuries of warfare, tragedy, executions, and poetry come together in this 13th-century fortress

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FROM ITS ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION IN 1226, all the way up through the 20th century, Burg Lahneck has experienced many notable events that have led to it’s intriguing tale including several wars, political unrest, the tragic death of a young noble. The castle even inspired the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The castle was built at the confluence of the Lahn and Rhine rivers by Siegfried III of Eppstein in order to protect the town of Oberlahnstein and a nearby silver mine. In subsequent years the castle became the setting for several battles and political strife. In 1309, the castle was stormed by King Albert I of Habsburgs after the Burgrave of Lahneck, Friedrich Schilling of Lahnstein who occupied the castle, participated in a conspiracy against Albert. Albert’s forces storming of the castle was successful, and Schilling was executed at the castle for his part in the conspiracy. 

Another event of note would be the slaying of the last Knights Templar warriors. When Pope Clement V demanded the Knights Templar disband in 1312, the legend goes that the last 12 Templars barricaded themselves within the confines of Burg Lahneck. All perished in a desperate fight against the overwhelming forces of Mainz Archbishop Peter of Aspelt.

Several centuries later, in 1633 during the Thirty Years War, the castle was assaulted and left in relative ruin by the passing Swedish and imperial troops.

Burg Lahneck also holds a note of literary importance as it is was the inspiration for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem, “Geistesgruß” or “Ghost Greetings”. It is said Goethe felt the need to pen the poem after spotting the castle during his travels along the river Lahn on July 8, 1774.

Goethe’s poem however, is not the only event concerning the castle that is remembered in writing. In June of 1851, a Scottish family visited the area of Burg Lahneck on holiday with their 17-year-old daughter, Idilia Dubb. The story goes that Idilia went out to sketch the Rhine river valley and its surroundings to keep as a keepsake when they returned to Scotland. In search of a breathtaking vantage point of the valley, Idilia entered the abandoned Lahneck Castle and climbed the wooden staircase to the top of the castle’s keep. Unfortunately, due to countless battles which left the castle in ruins and the lack of repair or upkeep, the wooden staircase leading to the top of the keep collapsed once Idilia reached the top. She was now trapped at the top of the ruined castle, and due to the high walls surrounding her, her cries for help were unable to be heard by anyone in the vicinity. Her family searched for her, but to no-avail, and eventually returned to Scotland. Nearly 10 years later in 1860, German workers repairing the castles keep found Idia’s skeletal remains at the top of the castle. It is said that her diary was found next to her body, documenting her trip to the area and the last moments of her life in the ruined castles keep. 

 Historians have been skeptical about the validity of the diary, however that has not prevented it from being printed in mass publication in 2002 under the title “Das verschwundene Mädchen : die Aufzeichnungen der Idilia Dubb”  or “The Missing Girl: The Records of Idilia Dubb.”

in atlasobscura.com

ASTURIAS QUIERE RELANZAR EL «CAMINO DE LOS SANTUARIOS» EN SU «COVADONGA 2022»

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La Consejería Cultura del Principado de Asturias, con  la  Consejera de Cultura. Sra. Berta Piñán a la cabeza quiere aprovechar que se conmemoran los 1.300 años de la «Batalla de Covadonga,» dando un salto mortal  organizando diversas actividades  para el año que viene, el 2022, y entre las delicatessen para esa puesta en escena está  el abordar finalmente   el  llamado ‘Camino de los Santuarios, o sea  un recorrido que una San Salvador de Oviedo,  el Santuario de Covadonga y el Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana, este último ubicado en Cantabria.

Lo cual tengo que indicar que ya hace tiempo se lanzó desde la Editorial Delallama, una publicación que se envió a la Sra. Berta Piñán, aunque no tuve el placer de recibir ni las gracias por dicho envío y en dicho libro se recogen varias rutas que desde la zona central de Asturias llegan al Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana, y que a buen seguro dicha guía servirá para  al menos ampliar el horizonte de recorridos  y no quede tal proyecto circunscrito a  los GR 203 Ruta de la Reconquista y GR 105 Ruta de las Peregrinaciones, que es lo que me temo que al final se haga.

Aunque  la consejera  tiene un ambicioso  proyecto al respecto, como es rescatar los trazados y sus acondicionamiento y señalización, pero de esto se viene hablando desde hace tiempo, de un posible recorrido hacia Santo Toribio, pero no sé yo muy bien por donde se piensa meter ese recorrido, si es siguiendo las estelas de los GRs citados, o seguir la traza del  Camino de los Francos, que es más factible como trazado caminero., pues no creo que hacer la Ruta de la Reconquista , cruzando los Picos de Europa sea muy factible como camino peregrino.

En fín , la  tapa de la olla  de las esencias  polémicas queda destapada, pues me supongo que la conmemoración de un hecho militar, como la Batalla de Covadonga  que la consejera expone como  «de trascendencia histórica», tal vez enlazando así con el covadonguismo tan al uso entre  algunos asturianistas de pro, pues será todo un acontecimiento y sin dudarlo un instante  todo un debate en los medios  y más cuando de por medio se anuncia la celebración de  encuentros científicos, charlas, exposiciones y congresos, aspirando a que tales eventos  culturales, sean la estrella, esperemos que no fugaz del año 2022, y digo esto de la fugacidad por aquella otra celebración del Real Sitio de Covadonga, que fueron más fuegos artificiales que otra cosa.

Será bueno ver quien estará presente en todos esos eventos de corte intelectual e histórico, los cuales se atrevan a dilucidar sobre la Batalla de Covadonga y toda su carga mitológica.

Pero el  Principado de Asturias y su Consejera de Cultura, se quiere poner la montera picona  al bies  y ya anuncia toda una  programación mediante una suerte de campañas, de promoción turística  que contaría además , con una página web dedicada  a tales eventos.

Por Victor Guerra, in miscaminosacovadonga.es

Pyeyros

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Según la documentación medieval la aldea de “Pyeyros”, el actual lugar de Pieros (León), perteneció a la Orden del Temple, que tuvo allí numerosas propiedades rurales hasta el punto de llegar a constituir una encomienda aneja a la de Ponferrada, regida por el mismo comendador, que entre 1220-1224 fue frey Domingo Fernández y entre 1240-1249 frey Juan Fernández “el Viejo”. Se trataría de una granja fortificada, con capilla incluida dentro de las murallas, al estilo de Aberin (Navarra). Por desgracia todo ha desaparecido, únicamente resta la pequeña capilla originalmente obra del 1086 reconstruida en románico por el Temple. Hoy está irreconocible y lo único medianamente románico es su espadaña, con la pequeña portada oeste y algunos muros. Según es tradición las piedras de los edificios templarios se llevaron al vecino Monasterio de Carracedo, en el s.XVIII, para restaurar el templo de aquel cenobio, por eso hoy podemos ver en él numerosos sillares llenos de extraños signos: hexapétalas, rosáceas, poliskeles.

in Sigillum Templi, por Diego Wesley Nogueira

Temple Bruer

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CONCEALED IN A FARMYARD IN rural Lincolnshire, this rare 13th-century tower once bore witness to one of England’s richest Knights Templar preceptories, second only to The Temple in London. One of a pair, this sole surviving three-story southeast tower once flanked the chancel of a round church. Today, Temple Bruer it is one of very few Knights Templar preceptories still standing in Great Britain.

The Knights Templar were a religious military order established at the time of the Crusades in the late Middle Ages. Their role was to protect pilgrims and the shrines of the Holy Land. As their popularity grew, they quickly went from rags to riches. Powerful and wealthy, they were able to finance their work through a Europe-wide network of preceptories, of which Temple Bruer was one.

The Knights Templar remained rich and successful for almost 200 years, but after the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land fell, their popularity declined, and they were accused of misconduct and corruption. In 1308, the Grand Prior of England was arrested and imprisoned at Temple Bruer in Lincoln. The order was suppressed not long after, and the Knights Hospitaller took its place. The Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1540 saw Temple Bruer granted to the Duke of Suffolk by King Henry VIII, who stayed there with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the way to Lincoln. Over time, the church gradually became a ruin with only the southeast tower remaining, which can still be seen today.

Categorized as a scheduled monument, this present tower, constructed of limestone ashlar, was restored in both the early 20th century and in 1961. In 1833 an archaeological excavation carried out at the Temple Bruer site concluded in a report that the ruins exhibited many signs of violence including that of live burials and infant sacrifice. The existence of subterranean vaults containing human remains previously submitted to the operation of fire was also claimed. A subsequent excavation in 1908 largely discredited these findings, although two stairways descending to a crypt were discovered. Sections of stone pillar also discovered during the 1908 excavations can now be seen on display in the ground-floor chamber along with a damaged stone effigy slab in the form of a knight which was unearthed when a petrol pump was installed in the car park situated next to the tower.

 The interior walls of the tower and the spiral staircase are covered with a veil of graffiti, some dating from as early as the 17th century. A number of masons’ marks are visible, and it is speculated that apotropaic or witches’ marks can also be found. For centuries, symbols and marks were carved or scratched into the fabric of buildings, particularly near entrance points, to offer protection from witches and evil spirits. Due to the Templars being accused of devil worship, infanticide, and many other heinous crimes, it is possible locals added these marks after their arrest to ward off evil, but it is left up to the visitor to decide.

in atlasobscura.com

Ancient sword discovered by a scuba diver off the coast of Israel may have been dropped in the sea by a Crusader knight 900 years ago

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An ancient sword discovered by a scuba diver off the coast of Israel may have been dropped in the sea by a Crusader knight 900 years ago, researchers claim.

The 3ft long weapon was found on the Mediterranean seabed in a natural cove near the port city of Haifa, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). 

Despite being encrusted with marine organisms, the hilt and handle were distinctive enough for an ‘eagle-eyed’ amateur diver to notice, after undercurrents apparently shifted sands that had concealed it for almost a millennia.

The natural cover in which the sword was discovered likely served as a shelter for seafarers passing through, said Kobi Sharvit, from the IAA marine archaeology unit. 

‘These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds,’ he said.

The sword, believed to be around 900 years old, will be put on display after it has been cleaned and restored to its former glory.

The sword was spotted about 650ft offshore near the city of Haifa and about 13ft deep and is in ‘remarkably good condition’, despite being over 900 years old.

Even though only its general shape can be seen, Sharvit is confident it dates back to the time of the Crusades. 

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between 1095 and 1291, in which Christian invaders tried to claim the near East. 

It was found among a range of other objects, including pottery fragments and a number of stone and metal anchors by diver Shlomi Katzin, who brought the blade to the surface and reported the find to the IAA, fearing it would be recovered if left.

‘The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight,’ IAA’s Robbery Prevention Unit Inspector Nir Distelfeld told Jerusalem Post.

‘It was found encrusted with marine organisms but is apparently made of iron. 

‘It is exciting to encounter such a personal object, taking you 900 years back in time to a different era, with knights, armor and swords.’ 

The knight crusaders were spurred on by the desire to liberate holy sites from Muslim rule, encouraged by the Catholic Church and initiated by European nations.

Waters surrounding the Carmel Coast, near where the sword was discovered, were sailed by thousands of boats between the 11th and 13th centuries. 

There are many natural coves in the area that sheltered sailors, including crusading knights sailing in ships to the holy land, during a heavy storm.

‘Larger coves around which entire settlements and ancient port cities developed, such as Dor and Atlit,’ were also in the area, said Sharvit.

‘These conditions have attracted merchant ships down the ages, leaving behind rich archaeological finds. The recently recovered sword is just one such find.’

The site where the sword was found was already known to the IAA because it was used as a natural anchor point going back as far as 4,000 years ago — to the late Bronze Age. 

‘Underwater surveying is dynamic,’ said Sharvit. ‘Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the seabed, meanwhile burying others. 

‘It is therefore vitally important to report any such finds and we always try to document them in situ, in order to retrieve as much archaeological data as possible.’ 

in dailymail.co.uk

Temple Church – An unusual round church in London with a Templar past

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WHETHER OR NOT YOU’VE READ The Da Vinci Code and subsequent thrillers, you may have heard of the Knights Templar. A few facts can be confirmed about the Knights. A group of pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem in 1119, and some of them were armed and followed a strict, religiously inspired code. Here’s where the facts get muddy. According to the story, nine among them took vows to become monks and were trapped in the Temple of Solomon. Or so the story goes…

Named Knights Templar because of the Temple of Solomon (“templar” meaning of the temple) their group quickly blossomed as more pilgrims began traveling to Jerusalem from Europe. Muslim–Christian tensions in Jerusalem rose, and it became very expensive to protect the Christian pilgrims. Funds were raised from Europe as the Knights grew in number and prestige.

Back in London, the Knights began to influence politics. With wealthy friends and their Church in central London, the Templars became intertwined in the financial and domestic concerns of the burgeoning English nation. The Master of the Church was an ex officio member of Parliament: separation of Church and State was more than five hundred years away.

Temple Church

With a distinct round nave, the Temple Church was consecrated in 1185. The round church is modeled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (In a twist of fate, that church may originally have been a temple to Aphrodite in the second century.)

But by the late 1200s, the Crusades weren’t going so well, and, with other troubles in France, the clout of the Knights waned. When they eventually fell in 1307, their land was seized by the Crown. King Edward II used the land and buildings for law colleges that developed into the present-day Inns of Court.

During World War II, German firebombs damaged the roof of the Temple Church, but it has since been restored. Visit the website for details about when the sanctuary is open for services and musical performances.

Side note: the library at Middle Temple owns valuable antique maps. These maps depict land we now know not to exist, but they are fascinating, nonetheless. A 1570 edition Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World). Check the Middle Temple Library website for times.

in atlasobscura.com

Podemos Precisar de Si – 2021

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O Verão de 2021 tem sido marcado por violentos incêndios florestais em várias regiões do Mediterrâneo, incluindo partes da Turquia, Itália, Espanha e Grécia. Grandes áreas de floresta foram devastadas, habitações, explorações agrícolas e industriais arrasadas pelo fogo, tendo-se registado múltiplas vítimas mortais.

Em Portugal a época de incêndios é habitualmente severa. Em resposta às necessidades das forças de Protecção Civil e Bombeiros, os Templários do Algarve reuniram ao seu redor os esforços de muitos irmãos e irmãs de todo o país numa operação realizada durante os incêndios de Monchique em 2018 que resultou na criação de um Centro Logístico permanente para activação situações idênticas [templars.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/podemos-precisar-de-si/].

Um incêndio florestal de grandes proporções tem lavrado nos Concelhos de Castro Marim, Vila Real de Santo António e Tavira nas últimas 48 horas, assolado por ventos fortes e ameaçando habitações e populações em várias localidades.

À última contagem estavam envolvidos no combate às diversas frentes do incêndio mais de 600 bombeiros, muitas dezenas de viaturas e 5 meios aéreos. A área ardida ultrapassava já os 9.000 hectares numa taxa de expansão de 650 hectares por hora.

Ao longo das últimas horas foram lançados diversos apelosc oficiais para a disponibilização de bens de apoio aos operacionais no terreno. Apesar da resposta pronta das diversas Autarquias e Associações locais, a situação tem-se agravado, pelo que o Templar Corps considera relevante activar o seu Centro Logístico e colocar-se ao serviço das populações locais e das forças de Protecção Civil.

APELO

Apelamos a todos os nossos membros, amigos, simpatizantes e a todas as pessoas preocupadas com a situação dos incêndios florestais a contribuir com bens do seguinte teor:

  • – Garrafas de água
  • – Leite
  • – Bolachas
  • – Enlatados
  • – Barras de energia
  • – Toalhitas húmidas
  • – Soro fisiológico
  • – Meias
  • – Luvas de trabalho
  • – Medicamentos não sujeitos a receita médica

INSTRUÇÕES ADICIONAIS

ATENÇÃO: Não são aceites contribuições em dinheiro; apenas os géneros elencados acima.

As contribuições em género poderão ser entregues nos seguintes locais:

ARRAIOLOS
Morada
Contacto: Rui Herdadinha, tel / mail

LAGOA
Sede do Corpo de Serviço Templário – Algarve
Rua dos Serralheiros, Lote 3, Sitio do Pateiro Zona Industrial, 8400-651 Parchal
Contacto: Jorge Amador, tel: 96.701.78.36
Facebook: facebook.com/TemplarCorpsAlgarve/

LISBOA
Recolha a fazer na 5ª feira, pelas 18h no parque da Gare do Oriente
Contacto: Miguel da Fabiana, tel: 91.750.04.02

CONTACTO GERAL
secretary@templarcorps.org

Pode encontrar o Apelo Oficial do Templar Corps International AQUI.

Pode encontrar o Documento de Apelo AQUI.


NA MEDIA

RTP

SAPO

Jornal de Notícias

Isla de San Simón – Small, lush island has a long and bloody history

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ON THE ISLAND OF SAN Simón (Pontevedra, Spain), Canarian palms grow alongside acacia and eucalyptus. A pathway lined with boxwood trees known as the Paseo de los Buxos welcomes visitors to the small island off the coast of Vigo, Spain.

The Isla de San Simón is part of the San Simón archipelago along with several other islets. These small spits of land are part of an estuary environment that supports important biodiversity.

Though it currently has no permanent residents, San Simón has seen a number of inhabitants over the years. The earliest records of inhabitance dates back to the 12th century when a monastery founded by the Order of the Temple was established on the island. The Knights Templar (…) were the island’s main residents until the 14th century, when it was abandoned. 

Over the following centuries, San Simón saw a number of naval battles and was used as a hiding place for valuable cargo. From 1838 to 1927 the island housed a quarantine station for those with serious contagious diseases including cholera and leprosy.

Not long after the quarantine site shut down, its buildings were repurposed for use as a penal colony during the Spanish Civil War. Political prisoners from all over Spain were held at the camp, where they were subjected to inhumane living conditions and mass executions. The camp was shut down in 1948.

Today, the Spanish government has turned San Simón into an “Isla del Pensamiento” (“Island of Thought”), meant to honor the history of the island and inspire deep, creative thought. In addition to the historic buildings, sculptures scattered across the island memorialize different parts of its heritage. A partially submerged monument on the east shore commemorates San Simón’s appearance in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

The island houses ancient graveyards, sculpture gardens, and surprises around every turn. It can only be accessed by boat.

in atlasobscura.com [edited]

The Supper at Emmaus: A coded symbol hidden in a masterpiece

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Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus features a snag in a wicker basket that mirrors an underground Christian emblem, writes Kelly Grovier.

Sometimes a flaw isn’t a flaw at all but a flourish – a stroke of genius. Take, for example, the tiny fray in the weave of the wicker basket that teeters on the edge of the table at the centre of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s early 17th-Century masterpiece The Supper at Emmaus, among the greatest treasures in the rich collection of the UK’s National Gallery. Though countless eyes have marvelled at the mysterious drama unfolding in the shadowy interior of the inn in which the recently resurrected Christ has just revealed his true identity to a pair of dumbstruck disciples, the significance of an almost imperceptible imperfection has gone unnoticed in the four centuries since the painting was commissioned by the Italian nobleman Ciriaco Mattei in 1601. A loose twig, sticking out from the plait of the woven fruit bowl, is a dainty defect from which the work’s truest meaning can be unravelled. Alone among the countless symbols that punctuate the religious painting, this delicately described detail – half in shade, half in light – transforms Caravaggio’s celebrated canvas from a mere illustration of scripture scene into something active and daring – a spiritual challenge whose stakes could not be higher.

To appreciate the full implications of this easily overlooked detail, it is worth reminding ourselves of the contours of the bigger picture Caravaggio is conjuring. The source for The Supper at Emmaus – a subject that has inspired everyone from Rembrandt to Velasquez, Pontormo to Cavarozzi – is the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of Christ’s intimate repast with two of his disciples, Luke and Cleopas, who have failed to recognise him after his return from the dead. As the bread has already been broken and blessed, the time has come, according to the gospel’s account, for Christ to “open” the eyes of his followers and for him to vanish “out of their sight”.

The painting, in other words, captures a mystical threshold, the millisecond before Christ, who is hauntingly haloed by a stranger’s shadow on the wall behind him, disappears from the world. In that immeasurable instant between revelation and evaporation, Caravaggio hatches a suspended, otherworldly world. To the left of the basket, Christ’s paternal uncle, Cleopas, pushes himself up from his chair in panicked astonishment at the disclosure – his sharp elbows poking through the worn-out sleeves of his coat. On the other side of the wicker bowl, to our right, Luke flings his arms out wide, mirroring the very posture on the cross into which Christ’s own limbs had been nailed at the time of his painful death. Meanwhile, the unfazed innkeeper, who stands beside Christ, gazes on uncomprehendingly – hearing the same words that Christ has uttered to his thunderstruck disciples, but unable to grasp their significance.

Caravaggio must have been keenly aware in choreographing this extraordinary scene, poised as it is between our perishable realm and an eternal one that lies beyond, that the contrasting reactions of those present for the big reveal – the nonplussed innkeeper, on the one hand, and Christ’s stunned and speechless followers, on the other – were also those that his own painting had the power to elicit. It is one thing to illustrate a moment of revelation that others have experienced. It is quite another thing to make the observers of his work actually participate in the awe of that epiphany – to transform the canvas into the very stage on which a spiritual awakening is potentially and perpetually possible.

Caravaggio was keenly aware that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence

But how? “It is as if,” the art historian Andrew Graham Dixon mused in his searching biography of the artist, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, while discussing this same work, “the painter has asked himself a series of direct, straightforward questions about the story that he was given to depict. What happens to the world when a miracle takes place? How might it be possible to tell, should the risen Christ suddenly come among us? What do things actually look like at such moments?” A master of light and darkness who wielded his brush like a magician’s wand, coaxing from chiaroscuro a semblance of tangible form, Caravaggio was as keenly aware as any artist has ever been that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence.

Enter the wicker fruit basket. This anything-but-still Still Life in Caravaggio’s painting is the key prop in his ingenious effort to reach out to us, to ensure our interest in the scene he is portraying is elevated beyond the passive into something urgent and active. With virtuoso Trompe-l’œil sculpting of substance and shadow that creates the illusion that the object is projecting out of the canvas, the artist has carefully situated the woven vessel on the very edge of the table.

The basket is a precarious nudge away from tumbling out of the painting altogether and into our space, spilling into reality its contents of bursting pomegranates and swollen grapes, rotting russets and radiant quince, which the artist has filled with ripeness to the core. But it’s the interruption in the weave of straw that subliminally snags the eye of the mind – a fray consisting of two intersecting curves that the artist describes with calculating care – one swerving upwards, the other down, to form the unexpected, if irrefutable, shape of a stylised fish, or “Ichthys” in the parlance of ancient Christian symbolism.

According to early ecclesiastical tradition, the Ichthys emblem, which dates back to the 2nd Century as a sign of Christian belief, was employed as a kind of secret handshake by followers who feared persecution from non-believers. To ensure that one was in the company of a fellow adherent of the church’s precepts, a semi-circular arch was traced on the ground. If that seemingly innocuous gesture was joined by a mirroring arch drawn by the stranger, thereby forming the crude outline of a fish, the silent ritual of acknowledging the dominion of Christ was considered reciprocated.

The act, intended to help one acknowledge the presence of a Christian, is clearly relevant to a painting devoted to the very subject of spiritual recognition. By conscientiously accenting only a portion of the Ichthys outline by casting a sliver of light on one of the loose twigs while keeping the other, behind it, in relative shadow, Caravaggio approximates the rustic ritual of inscribing one half of the fish symbol. From there, an acceptance of the overture to recognise the miracle at hand is entirely up to the observer of his work. Whether we chose to receive the gesture is up to us.

Unconvinced that the artist intended to braid into his basket an encrypted Christian symbol? Look closely at the silhouette that the pile of fruit casts on to the shroud-like tablecloth to the right of the wicker bowl. There, an even more emphatic shape of a fish, with a sharp lunate tail fin forever flipping behind it, can be seen sailing headlong into the basket, pulling our gaze with it in its wake.

Nor is it the first time that Caravaggio found himself melting a shadowy still life into a display bursting with scaly surprises. Seven years before he painted The Supper at Emmaus, the artist created an edgily charming portrait of a young man recoiling from a reptile that has nipped his unsuspecting finger as he fiddles with the arrangement of flowers and fruit. It is as if Caravaggio, when he came to create The Supper at Emmaus half a decade later, has managed to contain and sublimate the unleashed intensity of Boy Bitten by a Lizard – a version of which is also in the National Gallery – and harness its energy into something spiritually subtler, expectant, and forever on the verge of snapping.

Five years after he completed The Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio undertook the subject again for a version of the gospel story that now hangs in Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. A much starker interpretation of the scene, whose shadows have thickened into an engulfing bleakness, this later canvas is far more sombrous in temperament than his initial vision. The basket of fruit, with its lyrical flourishes of unravelling wicker and finning shadows, has vanished entirely from the table. Rather than attempting to bridge the mystical world of the painting with ours, Caravaggio has begun instead to push us away and to seal us out from the dismal abyss into which he and his canvas seem to be sinking. No stranger to the darkness, which increasingly called to him in the stressful final years of his life – with routine run-ins with the law, homicidal brawls, and eventually his own mysterious death in 1610 under circumstances that remain murky to this day – Caravaggio seems less and less to have perceived his paintings as the mystical stages on which others can find their souls than a projection of the gathering gloom in which his own soul was shrouded.

by  Kelly Grovier, bbc.com/culture

The mysterious stained glass London telephone box that has puzzled historians for years

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The phone box can be found near Temple station next to the River Thames

The classic red phone box is a familiar sight for anyone walking the streets of London.

Along with the famous red London buses , the phone box is a recognisable nod to the city’s great history .

Tourists can often be seen posing for photographs outside these phone boxes to mark their trip to the capital.

However, there’s one phone box in the capital even more ornate and recognisable than all the rest.

Between Temple and Blackfriars Tube stations, on the bank of the River Thames , you will find London’s only stained glass phone box.

One side of the phone box has been embellished with colourful stained glass depicting a figure of a mysterious knight.

According to The Londonist , the phone box was first noticed in 2019, and has been catching the attention of passers-by ever since.

The most puzzling thing about this phone box is that no one knows who is responsible for installing the stained glass.

Historians have researched the phone box, such as David Hay from the Sainsbury Archives who investigated the installation and contacted a number of sources.

David was ultimately unable to find out where it came from.

David even contacted BT for comment, and they too have absolutely no idea where the knight came from or who put it there and said they did not give permission for the stained glass to be installed.

The knight could easily be a reference to the Templars, an ancient order of knights who used to reside in that area of London – with Temple Church just a stone’s throw away.

However, why the knight feels the need to watch over innocent people making a phone call is still unknown.

Although the stained glass phone box is certainly a source of mystery, it’s a talking point worth visiting and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face if you’re ever in the area.

in mylondon.news

Dover’s ancient Knights Templar Church ruins that aren’t all that they seem

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Lying next to a main road in Dover, a stone’s throw from a residential street, is an interesting set of medieval ruins.

Known as the Knights Templar Church – by English Heritage and Google and pretty much everyone – they comprise flint and mortar remains in the shape of a rectangular chancel around 10 metres long.

It is believed to date back to the 12th century. But it’s not quite as it seems.

Despite its popular name, most experts seem dubious about its specific Knights Templar origins.

English Heritage describes the links to the famous order as “tenuous”.

The Knights Templar were a military and religious group founded in the 12th century during the Crusades, to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land and to defend the holy places there.

Dover then would be a good location to do it from.

They became rich and powerful but increasingly unpopular, and were eventually suppressed in 1312.

Apparently, the form of the Western Heights ruins mirrors that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, accounting for the link with the Templars.

But as English Heritage experts point out: “The port of Dover, the chief departure point for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, was an obvious place for the Templars to have held property.

“But they are believed to have left the town before 1185 and their links to this particular site are tenuous.

“An alternative interpretation suggests that the building was a wayside shrine on the Dover to Folkestone road.”

Experts also point to the site not being listed as belonging to the Order in surviving records.

The Dover area does have other strong links to the Knights Templar however.

They are believed to have established a church at Temple Ewell in 1170.

While only below ground ruins remain from their Preceptory, they are said to have founded St Peter and St Paul Church that stills stands in the village today.

Apparently evidence of the original Norman work can be seen in the north doorway and the high narrow window in the north wall of the nave.

Some suggest the Knights Templar may have used the Western Heights building before moving to Temple Ewell, but again an expert says it’s “more likely to have been a simple road-side shrine”.

Others say the shape, a smaller scale form of both the Jersualem church and the New Temple Church in London, indicate it may have had links to the Order’s supporters, even if it wasn’t a part of their formal estate.

Either way, it’s an intriguing thing to look at in a prominent location in Dover.

And with the Western Heights fortifications and nature reserve trail nearby, there is plenty of history – not to mention spectacular views – to take in too.

in kentlive.news