A substantial part of the ceremony of adoubement is conducted privately, only accessible to members of the Order. The act of adoubement itself, however, is public. It becomes a commitment not only to the Order but also to the world. Having this in mind, it’s not easy to describe the complete ceremony as it is conducted in the priory of Portugal, since it strictly follows Tradition, starting just moments before sunset, leading to a night long vigil where the future Knights and Dames are led to contemplate their life and prepare to partake of a new quality, that is both physical and spiritual, that could change their lives.
It is preferable, therefore, that we let images and quotes fill the gaps of what is customary to make public and what is deemed as more suitable to keep reserved and personal.
“Once they have installed themselves in this holy house with their horses and their weapons, clean it”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Ex Occidente Lux
“Colors are light’s suffering and joy”, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Lux in Flamma
“Danger or victory depends on the disposition of heart”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
“This is, I say, a new kind of knighthood and one unknown to the ages gone by. It ceaselessly wages a twofold war both against flesh and blood and against a spiritual army of evil in the heavens.”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Spero in Fide
Post Tenebras Lux
“Go forth confidently”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
“If some perhaps find my work unsatisfactory or short of the mark, I shall be nonetheless content, since I have not failed to give you my best.”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
All photos were taken by members of the Order, including Novices, Squires, Knights and Dames. For a full credit list, please visit our Facebook Group.
The Order has the following new Knights and Dames: Catarina Silva, DTJ; Cristina Vargas, DTJ; Filipe Silva, KTJ; Inês Ferreira, DTJ; João Gonçalves, KTJ; Jorge Amador, KTJ; Jorge Cravosa, KTJ; Pedro Bernardo, KTJ; Vera Reis, DTJ. The Order also received new Novices and Squires.
After the Benedictio Militis and the Pentecost Mass, the Order joined the Idegeo [Association] of Professor Manuel J. Gandra‘s celebration of Pentecost in Arraiolos. The Portuguese traditional Império do Divino Espírito Santo, in preparation for the Third Age announced by Joachim of Fiore or the Fifth Empire (of the Holy Spirit) referred to by poet Fernando Pessoa and many others, is comprised of an Auto, with the Parade and Coronation of the Child King, followed by the Bodo do Império, a popular feast and meal shared between all the participants as the anticipation of an era of the universal fraternity of mankind. This is the second year that the Priory of Portugal supports and attends these celebrations as part of the annual calendar.
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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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NEXT: Pentecost – The Ceremony
Type “Holy Grail” into Google and … well, you probably don’t need me to finish that sentence. The sheer multiplicity of what any search engine throws up demonstrates that there is no clear consensus as to what the Grail is or was. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people out there claiming to know its history, true meaning and even where to find it.
Modern authors, perhaps most (in)famously Dan Brown, offer new interpretations and, even when these are clearly and explicitly rooted in little more than imaginative fiction, they get picked up and bandied about as if a new scientific and irrefutable truth has been discovered. The Grail, though, will perhaps always eschew definition. But why?
The first known mention of a Grail (“un graal”) is made in a narrative spun by a 12th century writer of French romance, Chrétien de Troyes, who might reasonably be referred to as the Dan Brown of his day – though some scholars would argue that the quality of Chrétien’s writing far exceeds anything Brown has so far produced.
Chrétien’s Grail is mystical indeed – it is a dish, big and wide enough to take a salmon, that seems capable to delivering food and sustenance. To obtain the Grail requires asking a particular question at the Grail Castle. Unfortunately, the exact question (“Whom does the Grail serve?”) is only revealed after the Grail quester, the hapless Perceval, has missed the opportunity to ask it. It seems he is not quite ready, not quite mature enough, for the Grail.
But if this dish is the “first” Grail, then why do we now have so many possible Grails? Indeed, it is, at turns, depicted as the chalice of the Last Supper or of the Crucifixion or both, or as a stone containing the elixir of life, or even as the bloodline of Christ. And this list is hardly exhaustive. The reason most likely has to do with the fact that Chrétien appears to have died before completing his story, leaving the crucial questions as to what the Grail is and means tantalisingly unanswered. And it did not take long for others to try to answer them for him.
Robert de Boron, a poet writing within 20 or so years of Chrétien (circa 1190-1200), seems to have been the first to have associated the Grail with the cup of the Last Supper. In Robert’s prehistory of the object, Joseph of Arimathea took the Grail to the Crucifixion and used it to catch Christ’s blood. In the years that followed (1200-1230), anonymous writers of prose romances fixated upon the Last Supper’s Holy Chalice and made the Grail the subject of a quest by various knights of King Arthur’s court. In Germany, by contrast, the knight and poet Wolfram von Eschenbach reimagined the Grail as “Lapsit exillis” – an item more commonly referred to these days as the “Philosopher’s Stone”.
None of these is anything like Chrétien’s Grail, of course, so we can fairly ask: did medieval audiences have any more of a clue about the nature of the Holy Grail than we do today?
Publishing the Grail
My recent book delves into the medieval publishing history of the French romances that contain references to the Grail legend, asking questions about the narratives’ compilation into manuscript books. Sometimes, a given text will be bound alongside other types of texts, some of which seemingly have nothing to do with the Grail whatsoever. So, what sorts of texts do we find accompanying Grail narratives in medieval books? Can this tell us anything about what medieval audiences knew or understood of the Grail?
The picture is varied, but a broad chronological trend is possible to spot. Some of the few earliest manuscript books we still have see Grail narratives compiled alone, but a pattern quickly appears for including them into collected volumes. In these cases, Grail narratives can be found alongside historical, religious or other narrative (or fictional) texts. A picture emerges, therefore, of a Grail just as lacking in clear definition as that of today.
Perhaps the Grail served as a useful tool that could be deployed in all manner of contexts to help communicate the required message, whatever that message may have been. We still see this today, of course, such as when we use the phrase “The Holy Grail of…” to describe the practically unobtainable, but highly desirable prize in just about any area you can think of. There is even a guitar effect-pedal named “holy grail”.
Once the prose romances of the 13th century started to appear, though, the Grail took on a proper life of its own. Like a modern soap opera, these romances comprised vast reams of narrative threads, riddled with independent episodes and inconsistencies. They occupied entire books, often enormous and lavishly illustrated, and today these offer evidence that literature about the Grail evaded straightforward understanding and needed to be set apart – physically and figuratively. In other words, Grail literature had a distinctive quality – it was, as we might call it today, a genre in its own right.
In the absence of clear definition, it is human nature to impose meaning. This is what happens with the Grail today and, according to the evidence of medieval book compilation, it is almost certainly what happened in the Middle Ages, too. Just as modern guitarists use their “holy grail” to experiment with all kinds of sounds, so medieval writers and publishers of romance used the Grail as an adaptable and creative instrument for conveying a particular message to their audience, the nature of which could be very different from one book to the next.
Whether the audience always understood that message, of course, is another matter entirely.
in theconversation.com by Leah Tether
As “Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico” decorreram nos passados dias 13, 14 e 15 de Abril/2018, em Lagos, no Algarve.
As Jornadas constituíram-se de um “Trivium”:
A – Integrando um conjunto de actividades, constituindo-se de uma “Feira de Cultura Regional”, com área expositiva da Ordem dos Templários, feira-do-livro, artesanato, doçaria regional e conventual; que decorreu no Armazém Regimental nos dias 13, 14 e 15.
B – Assim como, no dia 14, sábado, realizaram-se as Jornadas do Conhecimento propriamente ditas, no Auditório do Edifício da Câmara Municipal – Lagos Séc.XXI, entre as 09:30 e as 18:30, com um conjunto de palestras, por Dignitários convidados, que abordaram o tema proposto na perspectiva da corrente doutrinária, filosófica, sociológica, espiritual ou religiosa que professada por cada um dos ilustres convidados.
Cada prelecção durou até 40 minutos, em que o orador respectivo expôs a sua comunicação dentro do Tema escolhido para este Ano – Esperança e Caridade. As comunicações não foram sujeitas a período de perguntas nem a contraditório, procurando-se a construção de um Conhecimento Ecuménico, pelo reconhecimento e aceitação da diferença, a partilha de realidades, a abertura pelo entendimento a diferentes Verdades.
A abertura dos trabalhos decorreu com uma actuação musical, pelo Grupo Coral de Lagos, com trechos medievais dos Séc. XIV e XV.
As Jornadas Templárias tiveram entrada livre a Toda a Comunidade e Organizações. Todos foram muito bem-vindos.
A Organização esteve a cargo da Comenda de Laccobriga e contou com o alto-patrocínio da OSMTHU – Priorado Ibérico da Ordem do Templo, o apoio da Associação Lagoriente – Al-Gharb, da Associação Grupo Coral de Lagos, do Exército Português, da Junta de Freguesia de São Gonçalo de Lagos e da Câmara Municipal de Lagos, assim como o apoio de diversas Organizações da Sociedade Civil nacional.
Objectiva-se a elaboração de um resumo das comunicações das Jornadas, bem como a elaboração da Acta das Jornadas Templárias, com o objectivo final de publicação deste conhecimento e a divulgação do mesmo junto de diversos Organismos da Sociedade, assim como a sua difusão dentro da Ordem do Templo.
Foram convidados oradores representantes de Confissões Religiosas, de Instituições étnicas e convidados da sociedade civil, nomeadamente:
Igreja Católica Romana, Maçonaria Regular, Judaismo, Peregrinos de Santiago, Entidades de Solidariedade Social, Templários e Investigadores Académicos.
Considerando-se que este é um tema central, quer no ternário das virtudes teologais: Fé, Esperança e Caridade; quer na constelação mítica e histórica da identidade portuguesa; eis então o motivo primeiro da escolha do tema para esta primeira edição das Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico. Pelo que a Comenda de Laccobriga da OSMTHU deseja, desta forma, poder inculcar a semente em Todos aqueles que, durante este dia, buscaram o conhecimento ecuménico, a aceitação e a partilha, caminhando para um mundo melhor, mais fraterno, de paz, em que os valores crísticos sejam a bandeira que possamos elevar bem alto.
C – No dia 15, domingo, pela manhã, decorreu uma cerimónia solene, interna à Ordem mas aberta a todos os Irmãos de todos os Ramos Templários; chamamento que, de forma fraternal, teve eco e que, nesta celebração eucarística da Igreja Joanita Templária, a Egrégora saiu reforçada, os Irmãos preencheram os seus corações e cumprimos mais uma etapa deste Caminho para a missão a que nos haviam incumbido.
Arrolamos aqui também, outra trindade, entre o Infante Henrique de Sagres, el-Rei Dom Sebastião e a Rainha Santa Isabel de Portugal. Ainda que vindos por caminhos diferentes, encontrar-se-iam ao centro, fundindo, num só, dois aspectos complementares da espiritualidade portuguesa. Pelo caminho de Sebastião vinha a esperança no resgate espiritual e temporal do povo português. Pelo de Isabel, a universalidade do amor, aspecto central no impulso da dádiva e da caridade. Teríamos, então, a Esperança e a Caridade. E, de Henrique, o Navegador, temos esta bela terra de Laccobriga, capital de antanho do Reino do Algarve, sede deste caminho para Ocidente em busca do Oriente, herdeira do entreposto marítimo na demanda da Jerusalém.
Resta-nos, agradecendo a participação de todos, a Todos convidar e vincular para as segundas Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico, a realizar em 2019, em Lagos. Juntai-vos a Nós neste desígnio que a Todos nos envolve.
No nobis Domini, no nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Glóriam
A Todos Vós, meus irmãos, Boas Jornadas.
+ Dr Luis de Matos, Prior Geral do Priorado Ibérico O::S::M::T::H::U::
+ Prof. Manuel Gandra, Apresentação do Livro: Alquimia
+ Dr Joaquim Jorge, Presidente da AMAYUR – Ayurveda
+ Dr Jaime Ramos, Presidente da Fundação A.D.F.P.
+ Pe José Manuel, Pároco da Praia-da-Luz
+ Drª Isabel Quirino, Psicóloga, Peregrina dos Cam. de Santiago
+ Ms Susana Karina, Tese Mestrado – Memórias de Santiago
+ Prof. Manuel Gandra, Filósofo, Investigador e Autor
+ Dr Luis Fonseca, Deputado Mestre em Portugal do G:.P:.R:.D:.H:.
Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg is maintaining and promoting an almost forgotten site of significant historic interest – the Knights Templar Graveyard, Kilbarry.
AN IMPORTANT piece of Waterford’s history and heritage is being preserved and promoted thanks to the Trojan efforts of one local man and his granddaughter.
In a fantastic display of community spirit and pride of place, Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg Square embarked on a project to improve the condition of the Knights Templar Graveyard in Kilbarry some years ago.
Paddy had become increasingly concerned for the condition of the graveyard which is located near Lacken Road Business Park and Templars Hall.
The Knights Templar were an international military order set up to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.
They arrived in Ireland in the late 1100s after the Norman invasion of 1169-71 and the witnessing of an Irish charter by Matthew the Templar in 1177.
They fell out of favour with the King of France in 1307, were persecuted on the continent and closed down in England and Ireland.
Their estates were handed over to their rivals, the Knights Hospitaller, but Kilbarry was one of three preceptories in Ireland retained for the Templars for the remainder of their lives.
The remains of the church of St Barry are located within the Kilbarry Knights Templar Graveyard.
Beside the church, a row of mortared stone buildings with slate roofs were located along with a row of large wooden buildings, probably barns.
Records show that the church, which was located on a slope overlooking a tidal marsh that extended to the River Suir, was in good repair until 1615 when it was still in use and serving the parish. The earliest headstone in the graveyard dates back to 1598 and the latest is dated 1856.
The graveyard lay more or less idle since the mid-1800s and, in the modern era, was believed by many to have been a famine graveyard.
Paddy Houlihan says many local people, including himself and his family, have many fond memories of playing in the area. He recalls the graveyard being a favourite location in which to explore with his brothers and sisters when growing up. “Everybody around this side of the city played in the area,” he explained.
In recent years, Paddy became concerned because of the huge growths of ivy throughout the graveyard, the high grass growths, and the many overhanging trees.
Along with his granddaughter Katie (his trusted sidekick and ‘Project Manager’), they spent countless hours engaging in efforts to clean-up the graveyard. More than 40 headstones/tombstones are located in the graveyard and, during the duo’s work, five tombstones were uncovered which had been hidden in the undergrowth. All of the names on the stones have now been recorded, and the graveyard’s condition has improved immensely.
in munster-express.ie by Kieran Foley
The Bible offers a pretty comprehensive answer to the question ‘WWJD?’: what would Jesus do? But, as Christians observe Easter and the Last Supper another question arises: what would jesus drink?
To answer this question, the location and timing of the final meal that Jesus had with his disciples before he was crucified is key. And three of four of the accounts of Jesus’ life in the Bible – known as the Gospels – suggest that it took place on the last Thursday celebration of Passover in around AD 30, Father Daniel Kendall, Professor of Theology and Scripture at the University of San Francisco told wine app Vivino.
“Unlike John the Baptist, Jesus drank wine,” explains Father Kendall, adding: “From the descriptions it was most likely a Seder meal. Since it was and is the most important of Jewish feasts, wine would have been part of the festivities.”
While grape varieties may not have been named and identified as they are now, wine had been made in this part of the Middle East since around 4000 BC.
Archaeological evidence suggests that around the time of the last supper, rich, concentrated wines were popular, says Dr Patrick McGovern, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.
In Judah more specifically – near Jerusalem where the Last Supper is said to have taken place – archaeologists have found a jar inscribed with: “wine made from black raisins”. This means that winemakers may have used grapes dried on the vine or in the sun on mats to create sweet, thick drinks. At sites nearby in the region, jars labelled “smoked wine” and “very dark wine” have also been found.
While it was common to water down wine at the time, there was a taste in Jerusalem for rich, concentrated wine, according to Dr McGovern.
Spices and fruits – including pomegranates, mandrakes, saffron and cinnamon – were used to flavour such wines, and tree resin were added to help preserve them. So, the wine drank at the Last Supper, then, might resemble the mulled wine some of us drink at Christmas.
Today, comparable bottles would include Amarone, which is made in Northern Italy with grapes dried on straw mats.
While it’s unclear exactly which wine Jesus drank at the last supper, Dr McGovern jokes: “If someone can find me the Holy Grail and send it to my lab, we could analyse it and tell you.”
in The Independent
The planning was meticulous. Signed and sealed, laden with accusation and instruction, the letters were sent by the king to local authorities throughout his realm. They were to act exactly one month later, simultaneously and at the crack of dawn — on a Friday the 13th, as it happened. The targets were unaware of what lay in store, their leader even spending time with the king and seeming to enjoy his favor. The hour came, and armed men launched their surprise, summarily carrying off hundreds to the king’s dungeons, and many ultimately to their deaths. It was a performance reminiscent of a Stalinist purge or Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives.
The year was 1307, and the month was October. The king was Philip IV of France. And his victims were all members of the order of “the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem,” better known as the Knights Templar — or simply the Templars. Over a period of two centuries, this charitable and military order of Crusaders had grown in power and wealth. At a stroke, and with the acquiescence of a weakened pope, Philip destroyed the order, imprisoning its leaders and burning many at the stake. “God will avenge our death,” said James of Molay, the last Grand Master, as he faced the flames on an island in the Seine.
And, in a way, God has. The Templars live on in popular culture — from the video game “Assassin’s Creed” to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” Philip IV does not.
Dan Jones, the author of well-regarded histories of the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses, obviously gives no credence to the conspiratorial fantasies that have been spun around the Templars over the years. No, they do not guard the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, and never did. No, a surviving remnant does not protect the identities of the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdelene. No, the order does not secretly run the world — that’s the Trilateral Commission or maybe Skull and Bones. In “The Templars,” Jones relegates this curious afterlife to an epilogue. His aim is to present a gripping historical narrative, and in this he succeeds.
The raw material is rich. Founded by a French knight in 1119, after the successful First Crusade, the Templars began with a mission to protect throngs of pilgrims now traveling to the Holy Land. The members of the order wore white robes with a distinctive red cross, embraced personal poverty and lived according to a regime codified by the great Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. A papal charter was followed by a papal decree granting the Templars an exemption from taxes and local laws, effectively creating a transnational entity whose members could go anywhere. As Jones describes it, the order comes across as a combination of Blackwater, Goldman Sachs, Kroll International, FedEx, Fort Knox, Bechtel and, well, the Red Cross.
The financial acumen of the Templars was considerable. In the post-“Da Vinci Code” era, visitors to London often make their way to the Temple Church, between Fleet Street and the Thames, built in the mid-12th century. The circular nave — typical of Templar churches — is the oldest part of the structure and was used as a repository by English nobles and by the Crown itself. “By the 1240s,” Jones writes, “the order was providing diverse financial services to some of the richest and most powerful figures across Christendom.” The Templars “guaranteed debts, ransomed hostages and prisoners of war on credit, and could arrange very large loans — such as the one made in 1240 to Baldwin II, the emperor of Constantinople, and secured by his very own fragment of the True Cross.”
The order’s military record was mixed. In 1187, an army of Templars and others, under King Guy of Jerusalem, was surrounded and slaughtered by the sultan Saladin in his successful campaign to restore Palestine to the Muslim fold. Saladin had played his hand skillfully: stopping up wells even as he enticed the Christians farther into the searing flats; pausing long enough to allow dehydration to take its toll; then moving in for the kill. Some 200 Templars were captured, and Saladin beheaded them all.
That was an unhappy episode, but the Templars had another century of influential life in front of them, until that Friday the 13th in 1307. Philip IV was pious, paranoid, unscrupulous and mercurial — and deeply in debt to the Templars. It was all too easy to manufacture charges of heresy, blasphemy and sexual depravity: urinating on the cross, having sex on the altar — the usual allegations. The power and secretiveness of the Templars only fueled the charges. The decisive blow was struck in France, but within a few years the Templars were extinct throughout Christendom, except in the popular imagination.
“The themes of the Templar story resonate powerfully today,” Jones observes. He rightly does not pontificate about this and draws no specious parallels, but the reader can’t help recognizing familiar territory. There is the preoccupation in the West with what we now call the Middle East. Religions collide and atrocities abound. Cries of “Allahu akhbar” pierce the din of battle. The power of states is threatened, or seen to be threatened, by unaccountable forces with global tentacles. Information is unreliable and easily manipulated, allowing conspiracy theories to take root and spread.
Nothing is left of the Templars except words on parchment and ruins in stone. An older crusading order with certain similarities, the Knights Hospitaller, does still exist, after a fashion — its genetic progeny are the Knights of Malta. They have a palatial headquarters on the Aventine in Rome. They have a papal charter and enjoy quasi-sovereign status. They can issue their own passports. They maintain diplomatic relations with a hundred countries. And, like the Templars, they do not rule the world.
By Cullen Murphy in The Washington Post