In Memory of Fernando de Toro-Garland, Master of the Temple

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It’s with great sadness that in this Pentecost Celebration the Order finds the Chair in the East empty, with the passing of our beloved Brother and Master of the Temple, Fernando de Toro-Garland.

We have indeed lost one of the brightest and most brilliant lights that have shone in our Temple in the last few decades. To the widow, our beloved Sister Patricia Oyarzun, a true life companion and tireless supporter – without whom Fr+ Fernando’s love for the Order and talent as a prolific author would not become so accomplished – our condolences and respect.

Master Fernando was born in 1925 in Santiago do Chile. In 1946 he would complete one of his many Degrees in subjects such as Humanities, Philosophy and Law, becoming a member of the Illustrious Bar Association in Madrid in 1957 and later on college professor in Literature and Law in many universities (Virginia, Columbia, Rutgers, Pontifícia Universidad Católica, UNED, etc.).

Fernando de Toro-Garland, the Templar

Photo: Celebration of the Battle of Ourique, homage to Afonso Henriques, Portugal, 2004. Left to right: Fr+ Ulisses Rolim, KTJ; Fr+ Antonio Paris, Master; Sr+ Patrícia Oyarzun, DCTJ; Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior GP Portugal; SAR Dom Duarte de Bragança, Fr+ Fernando de Toro-Garland, Master Emeritus; Dom Nuno da Camara Pereira, Comendador-Mor da Ordem de São Miguel da Ala, Fr+ Nuno Silva, KTJ, Fr+ Ricardo Centenera Villena, KTJ; Fr+ Artur Batista, KTJ

In 1985 Fr+ Fernando was knighted in the Grand Priory of Scotland, rapidly ascending to the position of Grand Prior of Spain in 1988. By then his devotion to the Order and excellent skills as a strategist and the ardent desire for a united Templar organization were a transformative force that proved to be unstoppable. That year a group of Authonomous Priories, that descended from the noble lineage of Fr+ Anton Luprecht’s 1940’s Priory of Switzerland, formed the International Federative Alliance (IFA) in order to established the principles of recognition between Priories of the Order that worked within certain valid Templar guidelines.

Under Fr+ Fernando’s leadership the IFA grew in numbers and authority. The ideas put forth by Fr+ Fernando inspired many others to follow along similar lines and a few of the most thriving branches of the Order worldwide today owe him a dept they don’t even understand. Visionary, relentless, he knew how to command an audience and be heard. He knew what he wanted, how he wanted what he wanted and was able to inspire others to provide it. Like all brilliant minds, he had little tolerance for mediocrity and no tolerance at all – if not utter contempt – for lack of discipline and lack of loyalty.

In 1999 the 23 Priories that were part of the IFA elected Fernando de Toro-Garland as Master of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Heirosolimitani, that, in respect for his values and objectives, added the word “Universalis” for the new century, creating the OSMTHU. Master Fernando took his vows from Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior of Portugal, in the Aula Magna of the Lawyers College of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, birthplace of his beloved Miguel de Cervantes. And the Don Quixote reference is not in vain, as Dom Fernando was a fighter and a man that saw what others only barely imagined, sometimes being mistook for a dreamer when in fact he was frequently a thinker way before his time. His election, that did not fall from heaven in a tidy basket, was the result of many years of good labor by many workers. It was the first time since the mid-nineteenth century that a Templar Master was elected in universally free elections, audited by an external Chartered Auditor (located in the Isle of Man).

In 2004 he would complete his (literal) pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella as Master Templi and, as a humble pilgrim, in his high Office, pass his Mastership to his elected successor Master Antonio Paris.

Sometimes I’m asked about the “true Templars” and an “inner Order”. If indeed there is any sign of the former or veil for the latter, we have just lost one of the greatest references for this theme in the transition between the 20th and 21th century.

It was privilege to work with you, Master Fernando.

Ora pro nobis

Eques ad Flammula Veritatis

PS: Maybe the greatest homage we can make to a writer is to read some of his texts. Here’s a link to one of his articles about the Celestina (“Libro del Buen Amo”). [PDF – Spanish]