Master Antonio Paris with Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor and GP Portugal
The solitary Knight is often depicted in old chivalry tales as the perfect image of wisdom and valour. Indeed, each Knight and Dame of the Templar Order today should aim to live up to that expectation. But the Order becomes stronger when two or three meet in person and work towards our goals That is why the OSMTHU has long established the habit of adding to the already satisfying lunch or dinner event – a moment of friendship and joyful conviviality – a new moment of learning and sharing of ideas and experiences. And that moment is the Conference or Round Table.
The Council Meeting
Friday was a peaceful day in Arraiolos. The beautiful village in the Portuguese region of Alentejo was the perfect setting to the Magisterial Council meeting Master Emeritus Antonio Paris promoted. But no rush. No worries. Life is taken lightly here in Alentejo. After everyone arrived at the Pousada of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, an old convent restored to it’s glory and opened to the public as an excellent hotel, it was time to find a place to have a light meal. Commander Rui herdadinha was already waiting, with a full afternoon of leisure in mind: typical local food, a walk to the Arraiolos castle, a stroll down the narrow streets of the village, famous for its rugs and tapestries.
Master Antonio Paris, Sister Patricia Oyarzun, Fr+ Leslie Payine, Seneschal and Prior of England and Wales
In the late afternoon the Council met, welcoming two of the visiting Order leaders so that the discussion could be broader and more informed. Master Paris lead the meeting, in which he announced his intention of resuming his Office (see the news and details here), working for unity in the Templar world. Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor and Interim Master and Fr+ Leslie Payne, Seneschal were also present, with invited guests Sister Patricia Oyarzun and Fr+ Vinko Lisec, Prior of Croatia.
The discussions were extensive and working plans for the next two years were laid out and analysed. That day the Declaration of Arraiolos was drafted, to be signed in the following days.
Master Antonio Paris, analyzing a draft of the Declaration
Masterly organized by Commander Rui Herdadinha, with the precious help of Fr+ Filipe Beja, Director at the Pousada, the Gala Lunch was a great opportunity for Templars from all over Portugal and members of foreign delegations to meet each other, exchange views and experiences, talk about their templar projects and ambitions (we’re involved in projects such as the Portuguese Templar Santiago Way, the Feytorias Project, a research project, of which more will be known shortly) and generally having a great time.
Present at the Lunch was the full leadership of the Portuguese Order, including Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior General, Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon and In Ecclesia Bishop Christophorus de Lusignan, Fr+ Paulo Valente, Commander of Sintra, Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Laccobriga, Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos and Sister Paula Valente, Preceptor of Porto, as well as Novices, Squires, Knights and Dames of the Priory.
Visiting delegations were composed by Master Antonio Paris, Fr+ Leslie Payne, Seneschal and Grand Prior of England and Wales, Fr+ Vinko Lisec, Grand Prior of Croatia with Fr+ Lovro Tomasinec and Sister Paricia Oyarzun, currently Cabinet Secretary to the Council. Finally, the Lunch was further honoured by the presence of Fr+ Antonio Andrade, Prior General of Portugal of the OSMTH and his Chancellor Fr+ Fernando Castelo Branco.
The opening session of the Conference took place in the Arraiolos Library on Friday night, with the presence of a representative of the local Municipality authority, the speakers and Commander Rui Herdadinha.
On Saturday the main session opened at 3pm, under the general theme “Conflict and War- The Concept of Just War in the 21st Century”. Messages were sent by Priorires and Templar authorities that were not able to be present, from all over the world. These messages were read and will be added to the Proceedings in order to be published later in the year as a compilation book on the subject.
The Commander opened the session thanking all those who contributed with papers and messages to the Conference, introducing Master Paris who reminded everyone of the history of the Just War concept, including the contribution of Saint Agustin and Saint Ignatius.
Fr+ João Pedro Silva talked about Spiritual Chivalry, bringing up some of the main tenants of the Order, followed by Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon who read a passage from the “City of God” by Saint Agustin, commenting on it.
Finally Fr+ Vinko Lisec, with the aid of Fr+ Lovro Tomasinec on the translation, told about his personal experience of war, reminding everyone that Croatia was torn between conflicting armies just a few years ago, when Yugoslavia broke apart. His account of the current refugee situation in his country, as well as of the disappearance of a national citizen in Egypt, kidnapped and used as ransom bargain by extremist groups, threatened to be beheaded in a video and since in an unknown location, had everyone gripped.
The session was brought to a close at the end of the afternoon. After a short visit that the Library of Arraiolos merited, as one of the oldest public buildings in town, having served as the Mala Posta (old Royal Postal Service of Portugal), it was time for group photos.
Some of the attendees then rushed to nearby coffee shops and terraces to get some water or a cold beer that would help to bring solace to a hot sunny afternoon in Alentejo. Others formed smaller groups debating the theme of the day and preparing for the evening’s ceremonies. After all, in less that one hour, the National Chapter was due to open in the Convent.
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