Tomar is a historically outstanding town in the Ribatejo region of central Portugal. Straddling the banks of the River Nabão, Tomar has narrow cobbled streets and a whole host of appealing buildings. It is also home to one of the most important architectural and religious monuments in the country – the Convento de Cristo, former headquarters of the Knights Templar. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magnificent monastery and its associated castle sit in a commanding position on a wooded hill overlooking the town.
The Knights Templar was an elite fighting force and semi-religious order that was founded in 1119, during the Crusades. Under the guidance of Gualdim Pais, the visionary Grand Master of the Portuguese Knights, the order began construction of a castle on the hill overlooking Tomar around 1160. The design of the castle’s famous ‘rotunda’ church was inspired by similar structures in Jerusalem. Each knight took a vow of poverty and chastity and wore a white coat emblazoned with a red cross. Over the years, the Templars spread across Europe, gaining extraordinary wealth in the process – and also many powerful enemies!
By the early 1300s, amid accusations of heresy, the order was finally suppressed. However, in Portugal, the Templars re-emerged again in 1320, reincarnated as the ‘Order of Christ’, but now under the control of the throne. It was thanks to the wealth of this new order that Prince Henry the Navigator (who was Grand Master from 1417-1460) was able to fund Portugal’s legendary maritime voyages. The order’s proud symbol – the Cross of Christ – became the distinguished banner for the country’s great age of exploration and discovery. From the 13th to the 17th century, the Convento de Cristo underwent continuous expansion to become the superb monument it is today.
We entered the castle grounds through the main gate and stopped to admire the outside of the circular 12th century church. After entering the monastery, we realised that there was a surprise around every corner. We counted eight cloisters, the largest of which is regarded as a renaissance masterpiece. There are charming terraces with great views over the countryside, an infirmary, a pharmacy and some gloomy monks’ living quarters.
The interior of the beautiful round church, known as the charola, is the chief attraction. The aisle is circular with a high altar enclosed within a central octagon, and the surrounding walls are decorated with murals of sacred art from the 16th century. This was the knights’ private oratorium and they attended services here whilst seated on horseback!
Just outside the church, the tiny Santa Bárbara cloister has a grandstand view of the chapter house’s amazing ornate Manueline window. This bizarre masterpiece is structured around two carvings of ships’ masts, adorned with knots, cork, coral and seaweed. Although covered in lichen and clearly in need of renovation, these somber blemishes just add to the window’s extraordinary appeal.
A secure supply of water to the complex was provided in the early 17th century by means of a six-kilometre aqueduct. This supreme engineering structure is most impressive where it crosses the steep Vale da Ribeira dos Pegões just outside Tomar. It has two magnificent 30m high tiers of arches and there is a tempting high-level walkway along the top of the conduit – but a painful drop should you stumble and fall!
The ordinary town residents have always been able to enjoy a plentiful water supply from the River Nabão itself.
From Roman times onwards, waterpower was used to drive mills, oil-presses and water wheels for irrigation and industry. The Roda do Nabão is a modern and much-admired water wheel located next to the town’s lovely central Parque de Mouchão. Constructed of pinewood, it is a perfect example of how the force of the River Nabão was used for local economic benefit.
Tomar has many other noteworthy attractions and we began our exploration on the east side of the river at the Santa Maria do Olival, a simple church dating from the 12th century and home to many Templar tombs, notably Gualdim Pais, the Grand Master himself. Plain on the outside and plain on the inside, this is a church with considerable charm and overlooked by most visitors.
Crossing the river using the scenic ‘Old Bridge’ and turning left, we found the Match Box Museum in a shady courtyard of the Convento de São Francisco. It has a mind-boggling collection of 43,000 matchboxes from 120 countries displayed like colourful tapestries.
The medieval heart of Tomar lies nearby and we wandered through its cobbled lanes to visit Portugal’s oldest surviving medieval synagogue. Many Portuguese have Jewish ancestry and Tomar was once the home of a thriving Jewish community. This 15th century Hebrew temple has variously been used as a prison, a hayloft and a grocery warehouse during its long history, but has now been splendidly renovated and is home to an interesting small museum. There are strange upturned earthenware jars set high in its walls to improve acoustics!
The spacious Praça da República, surrounded by attractive 17th century buildings is at the very heart of the old town, and overlooked by the lovely Igreja de São João Baptista. The church has an octagonal spire and two superbly ornamental Manueline doorways. The handsome city hall lies directly opposite and between the two, in a befitting place in the middle of the square, stands an imposing statue of the city’s illustrious founder, Gualdim Pais.
Every four years, the square becomes the centre of activities for Tomar’s most famous cultural event – the Festa dos Tabuleiros. This ancient celebration, associated with the Feast of the Holy Spirit, is actually thought to have its roots in earlier pagan fertility rites. Its highlight is a procession of hundreds of local girls (traditionally virgins) carrying tall ‘tabuleiros’ on their heads. These unusual headdresses are built from loaves of bread, decorated with flowers, and have a white dove at the top to symbolize the Holy Spirit. A local boy helps each girl to support her enormous ‘hat’ as it can weigh up to 15kg. However, these male attendants are not apparently required to be virgins!
One wonders exactly what Gualdim Pais would think about modern Tomar if he were alive today – international tour groups tramping through his beautiful church and young ladies walking the streets with stacks of loaves on their heads? However, he and his fellow Templar Knights would no doubt have been very happy to collect the considerable tourist income for their charitable coffers!
by Nigel Wright in portugalresident.com
In a meeting in Almourol / Vila Nova da Barquinha this week, the local municipality confirmed the final dates for the II Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism”. Taking place at the Templar Interpretation Center (CITA) in Almourol , Portugal, the International Conference follows the groundbreaking event that joined together in Barquinha experts from all over the world and different branches of the Order in October 2019.
The current COVID19 pandemic has severely disrupted traveling plans and large events. Because of that, it was decided that the Conference will have an opening session on October 13 for a limited number of invited guests, when a new exhibition will be inaugurated in the Interpretation Center, followed the 17 and 18 of October by a mixed online and live event from the auditorium in Barquinha, Portugal.
The full Program will be available soon. If you are interested in attending online (free), please send us an email to email@example.com or stay in touch with these pages.
I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism in Almourol available in video (full lenght, all conferences and visits, 9h30m)
The Municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha just released the full 9h30m of video that documents the full I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism that took place in Almourol, Portugal in October, where the milestone Protocol of Almourol was signed.
The I Conference was the first International Event organized by the CITA (here and here), an Interpretation Center for the Order of the Temple and the Order of Christ that complements the world famous Templar Castle of Almourol.
During the Event the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ, represented respectively by Master Antonio Paris and Regent Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, signed a Protocol with the Municipality, declaring the CITA and Almourol as an International Place of Templar Cultural Interest. Both branches of the Order also committed to the development of the library and archive available at the CITA and the organization of three yearly Conferences where members of the Order, the academic community, researchers and the general public can come together and celebrate the Templar heritage (here).
Short clip of how the collaboration came to be:
PROGRAM OF THE I CONFERENCE
The released videos extensively document the Guided Tours and the Conferences that took place along three days in October 2019. A large part of the content is in English. The footage will be edited shortly in order to make the conferences more accessible and subtitle in English those that are only available in Portuguese.
The present uncut release is, however, very useful for all those who were not able to attend and want to have access to all the discussions and groundbreaking research presented. Reviewing the videos will also provide almple reason not to miss the II International Conference to be held in Almourol in October 2020. (more info: firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE VIDEOS (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, Regent of the OSMTJ and Antonio Paris, Master of the OSMTHU
Following a few requests for information and clarification, after the new year started with one more of the many ill advised and irregular “coups d’etat” that recurrently affect fraternal groups, this one resembling the Wild West of fearless cowboys and bandits, we are pleased to make the following DECLARATION:
Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem Universal (OSMTHU)
Having started an unstoppable movement of International Cooperation between all good willing legitimate Templar Branches of the Order, announced in October 2018, confirmed by the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ in June 2019 and signed in an Agreement with the creation in October 2019 of the International Conference of Almourol between the Municipality of one of the oldest and most significant Templar locations in Europe and the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ, that will take place again in 2020, 2021 and 2022, becoming the most important single Templar location for cultural, academic and fraternal Templar exchange in the world, we declare that:
a) The Agreement Signed in Almourol, Portugal the 13 of October 2019 between the Municipality, the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ is valid until the year 2022
b) On the OSMTJ side, the Agreement was signed by Regent Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, binding the Order and his International Council
c) Regent Haimovici-Hastier maintains his position as Head of the OSMTJ, maintaining regular status regarding the OSMTHU, the Municipality and all matters relating to the Agreement and Conferences
d) The recent mutiny perpetrated by rogue groups that had past associations with the OSMTJ is not recognized as legitimate by the OSMTHU and has no bearing in the Agreement or future efforts of International Cooperation
e) The OSMTHU recognizes that misguided ambitions and an empty hearted hunger for fragmentation frequently find safe harbor within the Order; when such forces become visible, leaving the dirt behind has been the best way to carry on with the good work
f) Since the determination to Cooperate and Converge at an international level is the scope of our work in the next few years, the Order rejects any association with irregular illegitimate movements that seek to hinder that purpose
g) We take this opportunity to invite all Templars of good faith and provenance to converge in Almourol, Portugal in October 2020 for the Second International Conference and partake the friendship and fraternal welcome extended to all men and women of heart
h) Yes, the light remains in the East
Luis de Matos
We would like to wish Regent Haimovici and his International Council a great year of 2020.
VN Barquinha celebrates protocol with Templar order that will make CITA the “world’s most important repository on the Order of the Temple”
The Vila Nova da Barquinha Municipality has entered into a protocol with two branches of the Templar Order – the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolimitani Universalis (OSMTHU) and the Ordre Sovereign et Militaiire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ) – to declare the municipality and the Interpretation Center Almourol Templar (CITA) as an International Place of Templar Cultural Interest.
The proposal for the protocol came to the Municipal Chamber meeting on October 9 and deserved a positive opinion from the executive.
Councilor Marina Honório explains that the initiative results from the association of OSMTHU and OSMTJ who also wants Vila Nova da Barquinha to host “an annual event of the International Congress type and the recommendation that bibliographic collections and objects could be sent to the Center and enrich the CITA as an unavoidable international reference on the Order of the Temple and its cultural influences across the ages.”
As a starting point for this collaboration, Fernando Freire explained that both branches of the Order have already approved several initiatives aimed at encouraging collectors, archives and library owners to make donations and to make CITA by 2021 the “most important, complete and extensive”. repository and bibliographic collection on the Order of the Temple ”.
On the OSMTHU side, one of the initiatives is the negotiation of the passage of the Temple Archive, consisting of multiple original documentation concerning the International Chancellery and the International Federative Alliance Secretariat since 1988, as well as various objects and archives, on loan to the locality of Soria, Spain since 2007, for CITA in Vila Nova da Barquinha.
Another initiative to be taken by OSMTHU is to designate CITA as the “custodial institution to be handed over the update of the Order’s Archives, composed of the official documentation produced by the International Chancellery annually” as well as the “addition of historical documentary collections. bibliographic and objects of archaeological, academic or museological interest that can be donated ”.
The OSMTHU will also offer a forged replica, according to traditional rules, of the sword of the crusader Godofredo Bulhões, symbol of the historical context that gave rise to the Order of the Temple.
The OSMTJ will contribute with the deposit of a thematic bibliographic collection as well as an extensive documentary archive about the activity of the Order in the last half of the twentieth century.
In addition to the initiatives in terms of Archive and Library, the protocol also provides for cultural exchanges, through the loan and exhibition of specific pieces.
Finally, this collaboration also aims to hold an International Conference. An “annual international event taking place in 2020, 2021 and 2022”, as explained by the mayor of VN Barquinha, Fernando Freire.
The venue for the annual event will be CITA, whose organization, programming and promotion will be the responsibility of the two orders involved in the protocol.
It is recalled that the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol was opened to the public in November 2018 and is a pioneer center for the Order of the Temple in Portugal, endowed with a relevant set of features including an exhibition space, auditorium and thematic library.
By Ana Rita Cristóvão, antenalivre.pt
VN Barquinha celebra protocolo com ordens templárias que vai tornar CITA no “mais importante repositório mundial sobre a Ordem do Templo”
O Município de Vila Nova da Barquinha celebrou um protocolo com duas ordens templárias – a Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolimitani Universalis (OSMTHU) e a Ordre Sovereign et Militaiire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ) – a fim de declarar o município e o Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol (CITA) como Lugar Internacional de Interesse Cultural Templário.
A proposta de celebração de protocolo veio a reunião de Câmara no dia 9 de outubro e mereceu parecer positivo do executivo.
A vereadora Marina Honório explica que a iniciativa resulta da associação da OSMTHU e da OSMTJ e pretende também que Vila Nova da Barquinha seja sede de “um evento anual do tipo Congresso Internacional e recomendação de destino de acervos bibliográficos e objetos que possam enriquecer o CITA como referência internacional incontornável sobre a Ordem do Templo e suas influências culturais em todas as épocas”.
Como sinal de arranque desta colaboração, Fernando Freire explicou que ambos os ramos da Ordem aprovaram já diversas iniciativas que têm como objetivo encorajar colecionadores, arquivos e donos de bibliotecas a fazer doações e a tornar o CITA até 2021 no “mais importante, completo e extensivo repositório e acervo bibliográfico mundial sobre a Ordem do Templo”.
Da parte da OSMTHU, uma das iniciativas passa pela negociação da passagem do Arquivo do Templo, constituída por múltipla documentação original relativa à Chancelaria Internacional e ao Secretariado da Aliança Federativa Internacional desde 1988, bem como objetos e arquivo diverso, sob empréstimo à localidade de Sória, Espanha desde 2007, para o CITA em Vila Nova da Barquinha.
Outra das iniciativas a ser tomada pela OSMTHU é designar o CITA como a “instituição à guarda do qual será entregue a atualização do Arquivo da Ordem, composto pela documentação oficial produzida pela Chancelaria Internacional anualmente” bem como da “adição de peças documentais históricas, acervos bibliográficos e objetos de interesse arqueológico, académico ou museológicos que a esta possam ser doados”.
A OSMTHU vai também [convidar a Grão Priorado de Toledo da OSMTH a] oferecer uma réplica forjada, segundo as regras tradicionais, da espada do cruzado Godofredo Bulhões, símbolo do contexto histórico que proporcionou o surgimento da Ordem do Templo.
Já a OSMTJ contribuirá com o depósito de uma coleção bibliográfica temática de relevo bem como um extenso arquivo documental sobre a atividade da Ordem na última metade do século XX.
Para além das iniciativas em termos de Arquivo e Biblioteca, o protocolo prevê também trocas culturais, através do empréstimo e exposição de peças específicas.
Por fim, esta colaboração pretende também a realização de uma Conferência Internacional. Um “evento anual de âmbito internacional a decorrer em 2020, 2021 e 2022”, conforme explicou o presidente da Câmara de VN Barquinha, Fernando Freire.
O local escolhido para o evento anual será o CITA, cuja organização, programação e promoção será responsabilidade das duas ordens envolvidas no protocolo.
Recorde-se que o Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol foi aberto ao público em novembro de 2018 e é um centro pioneiro no que respeita à Ordem do Templo em Portugal, dotado de um conjunto relevante de recursos que incluem um espaço para exposições, auditório e biblioteca temática.
Por Ana Rita Cristóvão, antenalivre.pt
“Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism” is the theme of the event that will bring together, between October 11 and 13, 2019, in the Almourol Templar Interpretation Center, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Portugal, the world’s leading experts on this subject, with speakers from France, Italy, [Germany, Austria] the United States and Portugal.
Antonio Paris (OSMTHU Master, Italy), Barbara Frale (of the Vatican Archives), Nicolas Haimovici (OSMTJ Regent, France), John von Blauch (United States), Luís de Matos, Manuel J. Gandra, Ernesto Jana and Nuno Villamariz Oliveira (Portugal) are some of the confirmed speakers.
During the event a new temporary exhibition will be inaugurated in the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol – “Santoral and Templar liturgy”. The catalog of the exhibition will be made available on opening day. The event will also be remarked by the signing of Protocols of Cooperation and Partnership with CITA and the reception of the replica of the sword of Godofredo de Bouillon.
The program includes visits to Almourol Castle (Vila Nova da Barquinha) and the Convent of Christ (Tomar), as well as musical moments.
Registrations cost 15 € (with catalog offer), are mandatory and limited. The contact for more information and registration is +351 249720358.
“Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo” é o tema da iniciativa que irá reunir, entre 11 e 13 de outubro de 2019, no Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol, Vila Nova da Barquinha, os maiores especialistas mundiais nesta temática, com oradores oriundos de França, Itália, Estados Unidos e Portugal.
António Paris (Mestre da OSMTHU, Itália), Barbara Frale (Arquivo do Vaticano), Nicolas Haimovici (Regente da OSMTJ, França), John von Blauch (Estados Unidos), Luís de Matos, Manuel J. Gandra, Ernesto Jana e Nuno Villamariz Oliveira (Portugal) são alguns dos oradores já confirmados.
Durante o evento terá lugar a inauguração da nova exposição temporária do Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol – “Santoral e liturgia templárias à roda do ano” – assim como a apresentação do respetivo catálogo. O acontecimento ficará também marcado pela assinatura de Protocolos de Cooperação e Parceria com o CITA e receção da réplica da espada de Godofredo de Bouillon.
Do programa fazem parte visitas ao Castelo de Almourol (Vila Nova da Barquinha) e ao Convento de Cristo (Tomar), bem como momentos musicais.
As inscrições tem um custo de 15€ (com oferta de catálogo), são obrigatórias e limitadas. O contacto para obter mais informações e inscrições é o telefone +351 249720358.
Regent Fr+ Nicolas Haimovici-Hastier (third from right) with his Magisterial Council in Zagreb, Croatia 2019
A groundbreaking agreement was signed between the OSMTJ and the OSMTHU, two of the leading branches of the Templar Order whose most modern institution dates back from over 200 years ago.
In a notably fragmented movement, with many small groups of undetermined origin and frequent divisions in the main branches, the firm determination of the OSMTHU to counter current trends and work on a convergence of goals expressed by the Declaration of Arraiolos (Portugal, 2018) was met by the long standing work for Templar Unity of the OSMTJ, under Regent Nicolas Haimovici-Hastier. Upon the Regent’s proposal to select a city or Templar relevant place that could work as a neutral ground of Cultural Exchange, where all groups, researchers, students and general public interested in the Templar Order could meet, discuss, learn and create bonds of friendship, the Grand Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU committed to make all efforts to elect Vila Nova da Barquinha – of the Castle of Almourol fame and location of the Templar Interpretation Center (CIT) – the official seat of the Cultural Exchange Association between both branches.
To that end the early preparation steps have been taken to have a 3 year run of an International Congress to start in 2019 in Fall, in a date to be announced shortly.
So, leave your calendars opened to travel to Portugal this Fall, to Vila Nova da Barquinha (Almourol) – a short distance from Lisbon’s main airport and a shorter distance from Tomar – to be part of history when both groups celebrate fraternal friendship under the protection of the Templar Order.
Copy of the Agreement:
Manuel J. Gandra, o curador da exposição “O Império do Divino Espírito Santo no Médio Tejo”, fez algumas revelações inéditas sobre as suas investigações acerca do tema, durante a inauguração no Centro de Interpretação Templário Almourol (CITA), de Vila Nova da Barquinha, no dia 9 de junho.
O investigador revelou que 12 dos 13 concelhos da região do Médio Tejo “estão repletos de memórias do Império do Espírito Santo”. Excluiu apenas o Entroncamento por ser um concelho recente.
Para Manuel Gandra, a exposição sobre o Espírito Santo agora inaugurada “aparentemente é alheia à temática Templária”, mas “na realidade o tema Templário e a exposição são duas faces da mesma moeda”.
Na conferência de apresentação do catálogo que antecedeu a inauguração da exposição, o investigador sublinhou que “os Templários tinham objetivos materiais mas também espirituais que passavam pela criação de uma humanidade fraterna”.
“Este território, que era sobretudo Templário, tinha já essa componente espiritual presente mas tornou-se mais evidente quando entrou na história a Ordem de Cristo e adotou para si o Império do Espírito Santo”, explicou Manuel Gandra.
Já na exposição, que ocupa um dos corredores do CITA, os visitantes puderam apreciar medalhas, imagens, cartazes, livros antigos, entre uma série de objetos e documentos relacionados com o tema. Da região há referências a festas do Divino Espírito Santo em Sardoal, Alcanena e Meia Via, mas o destaque vai para a Festa dos Tabuleiros de Tomar.
Três das vitrinas estão preenchidas com objetos relativos ao culto do Divino Espírito Santo nos Açores, no Brasil e na América do Norte.
Manuel Gandra dispõe de muito mais peças sobre o tema mas dada a limitação de espaço teve de ser feita uma seleção criteriosa. No ar ficou a perspetiva de uma outra exposição.
Depois de agradecer a “colaboração inexcedível” de Manuel Gandra na exposição, o presidente da Câmara de Vila Nova da Barquinha falou do “projeto arrojado” do CITA numa lógica de identidade do território transversal a todo o Médio Tejo.
Fernando Freire recordou que existem no concelho dois castelos templários: Almourol e Zêzere, sendo que deste último há apenas alguns vestígios.
“Já está feito o levantamento de uma muralha medieval que se encontra a nascente”, e “gostaríamos de, no próximo ano, fazer escavações arqueológicas no local”, anunciou o autarca.
Referiu-se ainda à existência de um cais Templário junto ao rio Zêzere, levando o edil a acreditar que foi ali “que se iniciaram os descobrimentos portugueses”.
Também para Manuel Gandra “a expansão marítima portuguesa começou a partir do Zêzere e de Almourol, portanto, do que é hoje Vila Nova da Barquinha”. Foi o Comendador de Almourol Frei Gonçalo Velho quem descobriu as Ilhas de Santa Maria e de S. Miguel (Açores) que inicialmente se chamavam Almourol e Cardiga, segundo o investigador.
E terá sido desta região do Médio Tejo e nessa altura que o culto ao Divino Espírito Santo chegou aos Açores e depois às Américas.
A exposição “O Império do Divino Espírito Santo no Médio Tejo” vai estar patente até ao final do ano podendo ser visitada de segunda a sexta-feira das 9h00 às 12h30 e das 14h00 às 17h30 e aos sábados, domingos e feriados, das 10h00 às 13h00 e das 15h00 às 18h00.
in mediotejo.net por José Gaio
Por Rádio Hertz
IMPÉRIO DO DIVINO ESPÍRITO SANTO – VILA NOVA DA BARQUINHA 2019
In the close vicinity of the Templar city of Tomar, Portugal, one of the most evocative Templar Castles in the world can be found: Almourol. Situated in a small island in the middle of the Tagus river, overseeing both margins and guarding secret Templar routes from all enemies, Almourol is the subject of legend.
In late 2018 the Municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha opened right in the center of the village, the new Centro de Interpretação Templária (Templar Interpretation Center), a place where the Templar Order and its continuation in the Order of Christ (of Discoveries fame) is celebrated with dedicated exhibitions, conferences, a comprehensive library and multimedia displays available to the public to explore.
The Center had the major backing, apart from the Municipality and the Portuguese Army that currently has jurisdiction over the Almourol castle, of researcher, philosopher and historian Prof. Manuel J. Gandra, the most respected authority in Templar studies in Portugal – not only because of his strong academic background, but also because he has been the most prolific and consistent author on the theme in the last 25 years. The Center and Prof. Gandra’s work have been fully endorsed by the OSMTHU, that plans to promote a few cultural events in 2019 and 2020 and associate the Order to this beacon of Templar history that merits the attention and collaboration of the Templar world.
The Templar Globe is preparing an interview with Prof. Gandra about the TIC. Meanwhile, please take a look at a video about this remarkable place.
Fr+ Bryant Jones, Prior of the United States OSMTJ sent us the link to his Conference at the Dighton Rock Museum. I hope you enjoy.
The morning sun was shining as bright as if it was Spring. But it wasn’t. Very, very close to the last days of Fall, we could see how the Tagus river carried the brownish fallen remains of dead leafs, broken ashen tree twigs and orange tanned grass leftovers tried by a few days of hard rain and sweeping winds. Winter was coming, the air was cold. But the sun was having none of it! And in that fine lit morning, towering above the river waters in an impossible island, the invincible walls of the 850 year old Templar Castle of Almourol stood up, proud and mysterious.
We had the good fortune to have been found by the boat owner, who, after having spotted us looking at the towers with a smile on our eyes, asked from a distance “Do you want me to take you to the island?”
HE Fr+ Bryant Jones, Grand Prior of the Grand Priory of the United States (OSMTJ – Lamirand/Haimovici branch), whom I had never met before, was visiting the Templar region of Tomar, in Portugal, and asked me if I would show him around. I was pleased to be his guide. Often some of our brethren, when they have a stopover in Lisbon in their travels, like to meet with me for a chat, a couple of beers or dinner. Sometimes they have time to go to Tomar. Sometimes they accept my invitation to visit Sintra. Many times, however, they are only educated tourists. They love to tour the places they have come to admire on the internet or their printed tour guides. But the real deal moves them no more than a 360º degree iPhone App with HD photos. They would hit the “Like” button, sure. But Fr+ Jones was hitting the “Love It!!!!” button for two straight days! His passion and knowledge for everything related to the Templar Order and its history was amazing. And uncommon. A real revelation. How I wish all High Officers of the Order in its several branches would show such knowledge and appreciation for Templar history, values and life lessons as Prior Jones does! The amount of problem that would be solved… And the drama that would not unfold…
Yes, we visited every corner of the Templar Castle and Convent of Christ that can be visited and spoke hours on end about every little subject that came to mind. Over the two days it took to visit Tomar and Sintra, I almost lost my voice, so much so that I was forced to cancel a class I was teaching that night. We belong to different branches in the Order and we have – and will keep – our commitments to our own branches. However, we struck a real friendship, firmly based on shared values and passions, shared objectives and visions for the future. So, don’t be surprised if ever see us crossing the gates of Jerusalem wearing the same white mantle!
Luis de Matos