Templar Interpretation Center opens in Portugal

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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.

A Mystic for Our Time

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I have a power in my soul which is ever receptive to God. I am as certain [of that] as that I am a man, that nothing is so close to me as God. God is closer to me than I am to myself: my being depends on God’s being near me and present to me. — Meister Eckhart (circa 1260-1328)


The scenario is bleak: Consumerism and materialism dominate all aspects of social life. Older people look with alarm at the crumbling of civic and religious institutions. Young people view the future with a sense of foreboding. Politicians appear self-interested, religious leaders hypocritical, business people ever more corrupt. Violence is escalating at home and abroad, with no ready solution in sight. Alienation and disorientation are pervasive.

Whatever similarities we may find in our contemporary predicament, the society I’m describing is 14th-century Germany. As in 21st-century America, many people of the time, feeling battered by the world around them, sought spiritual wisdom and a more profound connection to the divine. In the early 1300s, this meant that a large number of practicing Christians, laypeople and clerics alike, were searching for a more direct and satisfying experience of God’s presence than what they found in familiar institutional practices.

The potential chaos embodied in these grassroots, subjective movements alarmed some Church leaders. From his seat in Avignon, Pope John XXII, while mostly concerned with matters of state, sought to rein in both the “radical” Franciscans, who preached the importance of apostolic poverty, and the women known as beguines, who formed what we would today call intentional religious communities — groups of spiritually likeminded laypeople, rather than members of a formal religious order, who lived and prayed together.

In the midst of this tumult, many Christian seekers in the Rhineland of what is today western Germany found life-altering wisdom in the preaching of a Dominican friar, Eckhart von Hochheim, better known as Meister (“Master”) Eckhart. An acclaimed scholar trained at the University of Paris, Meister Eckhart sought to bring the fruits of his many years of theological and philosophical study and contemplation to lay audiences — an unusual aspiration among priest-scholars, who typically considered such matters beyond the comprehension of average people.

Even more revolutionary was Eckhart’s message. Unlike most preachers of the day, who focused on sin and eternal punishment, he described a process he called “the divine birth,” in which true believers could experience God directly within them. The key lay in letting go of all worldly things, all desires and preconceptions — even one’s image of God himself: “The more completely you are able to draw in your powers to a unity and forget all those things and their images which you have absorbed, and the further you can get from creatures and their images, the nearer you are to this [divine birth] and the readier to receive it.”

Then, he said — “in the midst of silence” — God would come within the soul.

Meister Eckhart’s way to “know” God directly was shaped by two central insights, the products of many years of study and contemplation. The first was that the seeker must “unknow” everything he or she thinks about God. Human language and images are essentially metaphorical, comparing things to one another. But God is completely other. Obviously he is not an old man with a flowing white beard (or even a “he”), but he is also not a being in the sense that we normally mean. It is more accurate, according to Eckhart, to say that God is Being itself, since all existence derives from him. “We should learn not to give God any name . . . for God is above names and ineffable.” In fact, Eckhart warns, “if you think of anything he might be, he is not that.” This deconstruction of images of God, in which we come closer to knowing the ineffable divine by negative attributions — God does not exist in time or space, for instance — than by positive attributions, is known as negative theology, a tradition dating back to St. Augustine.

“We are the cause of all our hindrances. Guard yourself against yourself, then you will have guarded well.” — Meister Eckhart

God’s “unknowability” in word and image was a hard concession for a professional scholar who had invested himself in coming to know God through a rigorous probing of Scripture and Catholic tradition. But the more that Eckhart had tried to approach God rationally, the more frustrated he had become. Instead he came upon a second key insight: One could “know” God through direct experience. Later scholars would call such an approach “mystical,” but a more accurate and less loaded term for what Eckhart meant would be “intuitive”: Rather than trying to know God from the outside, through our senses and intellect, we should try to know him from the inside, from that divine presence already within each of us.

Eckhart called this presence “the divine spark.” He preached that, through a contemplative process of self-emptying, or “letting-go-ness,” the seeker will directly encounter the God within. Only with the death of the old and false self, in theological terms, could the new and true self be born.

The concept traces to St. Paul, who directed Christians to “put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” In Eckhart’s interpretation, the resulting “divine birth” represented no mere metaphor but a direct encounter of the individual soul with the divine. The best news was that God was eager to fully embrace the seeker: “You need not seek him here or there,” he wrote. “He is no further than the door of your heart; there he stands patiently awaiting whoever is ready to open up and let him in. No need to call him from afar: He can hardly wait for you to open up. He longs for you a thousand times more than you long for him.”

Eckhart’s message both excited and unnerved the Christians of his day. Although he never denigrated the external forms of piety around him — he was an active priest — his focus on the internal, on contemplation, was highly unusual, even unsettling to many lay listeners. The Church they knew preached that each person’s salvation depended on the performance of good works and acts of contrition, yet these were absent from Eckhart’s teaching. The Church they knew revolved around the veneration of saints and the celebration of sacraments, yet these played no apparent role in the internal self-transcendence Eckhart described. The Church they knew esteemed monks, nuns and other contemplatives as closer to God than the layperson, yet Eckhart preached that direct experience of God was accessible to any true seeker, regardless of social or religious status.

It is a testament to the truly “catholic” nature of medieval Christianity that what Eckhart called  “a wayless way” to divine union — and subsequent commentators would call apophatic or imageless mysticism — coexisted peacefully with Eucharistic devotions, pilgrimages and penitential self-flagellation. Not until late in his life did Eckhart become caught up in an inquisitorial procedure, based largely on local politics, that culminated in several of his statements being condemned in a papal bull as “evil-sounding.” After eliminating these more controversial statements, his disciples Johannes Tauler and Blessed Heinrich Suso continued to attract followers after the master’s death in the late 1320s. Still, after several decades the master himself faded into obscurity.

Fast forward seven centuries and the medieval Dominican friar has emerged as something of a modern spiritual celebrity. Millions of Roman Catholics and other Christians now claim Meister Eckhart as one of their own, not to mention many Zen Buddhists, Sufi Muslims, Advaita Vedanta Hindus, Jewish Cabalists and a variety of other seekers who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” In the United States, interest in Eckhart owes much to the popularity of his namesake, Eckhart (born Ulrich) Tolle, a spiritual teacher and author whose beliefs weave together the medieval master’s teachings with an eclectic blend of contemporary Eastern and New Age concepts. Thanks in part to the massively influential endorsement of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Oprah’s Book Club, the modern Eckhart’s books have together been translated into more than 30 languages and sold some 10 million copies worldwide.

What is it that all these people see in the words of this sage from a distant era? The most common denominator appears to be an attraction to Eckhart’s revolutionary method of direct access to God (or, for some, to ultimate reality) — a profoundly subjective approach that is at once intuitive and pragmatic, philosophical yet non-rational, and above all, universally accessible. Many modern Christian authors, such as the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr — who calls Eckhart a “mystic’s mystic” — view his teachings as part of a long Christian contemplative tradition.

“Where is this hidden God? It is just as if a man were to hide himself and then to give himself away by clearing his throat. God has done the same. No man could ever have found God, but he has revealed his presence.” — Meister Eckhart

Despite that noble pedigree, Meister Eckhart was late to gain notice among modern Christians. His attractiveness to many contemporary Catholics ironically owes much to the post-Vatican II Church’s intensified engagement with other world religions. The Council’s 1965 declaration Nostra aetate (“In Our Time”) is best known for its repudiation of Catholicism’s long tradition of anti-Semitic statements, but it also represented the Church’s first genuine outreach to Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other non-Christian religious traditions. By a vote of 2,221 to 88, the Council affirmed that the Holy Spirit can indeed be at work in these faiths as well, although obviously not to the same degree as in Christ’s ordained Church.

Already by that time, several Catholic thinkers had begun to explore affinities with non-Christian religions, particularly those of Asia. One of the most famous of those spiritual explorers, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, engaged extensively with Zen Buddhist teachings before discovering a strikingly similar approach already present within his own tradition: Meister Eckhart. Merton agreed with his frequent correspondent, the Japanese scholar D. T. Suzuki, who called Eckhart “the one Zen thinker of the West.”

At the same time that medieval Japanese monks were formulating the core of Zen teaching, Eckhart drew deeply on centuries of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and pagan thought to develop a remarkably similar approach to experience of the divine. “Letting-go-ness” lines up with the Zen “no-mind” (wuxin) as well as the Taoist “no action” (wu wei). Buddhists also appreciate the master’s distinction between the constructed individual identity of each person — what we would call the ego and Eckhart calls the “false self” — and the common nature we all share, the authentic self, which the master identified as divine.

Like his Zen counterparts, Eckhart was wary of God-talk, which he thought more often obscured than revealed the divine, and he aspired to a unity with the ultimate. He called this a “second” or “divine” birth, which is in many ways similar to the Buddhist notion of satori, orenlightenment. The resulting “Christ nature” that he described, echoing St. Paul in Galatians 2:20 (“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”) looks remarkably similar to the internal “Buddha nature” of the Mahayana tradition.

At the same time, Eckhart’s embrace of meditation anticipates by seven centuries its popularity, along with the practice of “mindfulness,” among people of faith as well as among the ever-growing number of New Age seekers, agnostics and avowed atheists and others who list their religious affiliation as “none.”

Obviously many important differences remain between the Catholic Eckhart and other faith traditions, most notably on the role and identity of Christ. But the significant convergences have attracted increasing attention since the 1960s. In that sense, Eckhart, whom Merton called “my life-raft,” has brought the contemplative tradition to non-Catholics while deepening the modern Church’s ecumenical dialogue with other spiritual traditions.

Of course, not all Catholics would view the similarity of Eckhart’s teachings to Zen Buddhist practices as a recommendation. While more ecumenical Catholic writers such as the priests Aelred Graham, OSB, Robert E. Kennedy, S.J., and Richard Rohr celebrate the affinity, other more conservative thinkers, such as James Hitchcock, have remained cautious about a full embrace of the medieval friar (particularly given Eckhart’s sermons on the Godhead, in which detractors detect hints of pantheism).

Other modern advocates of lay contemplative practices — particularly Father Thomas Keating, OCSO, and the other founders of Centering Prayer — have bypassed Eckhart altogether in favor of other mystical writings such as The Cloud of Unknowing, a work composed in Middle English a few decades after Eckhart’s death. Yet during the past 20 years, the tide among Catholics has shifted definitively. The two previous popes have spoken favorably of the once-censured Meister Eckhart, leading the Dominicans to request a formal rehabilitation of their late brother in 1992, only to be informed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2010 that, in the words of Father Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former master of the order, “there was really no need, since he had never been condemned by name, just some propositions which he was supposed to have held, and so we are perfectly free to say that he is a good and orthodox theologian.”

“Mysticism” also remains a suspicious concept for many modern people, given its popular association with visions and other supernatural experiences. But Meister Eckhart never claimed any special powers or called himself a mystic — or anything other than a Catholic preacher of the gospel. If he was a mystic, he was a profoundly anti-obscurant, egalitarian and down-to-earth one, rooted in centuries of Catholic contemplative tradition. In that sense he may be the perfect mystic for our own troubled times.

By Joel Harrington in magazine.nd.edu


Joel Harrington is Centennial Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and the author or editor of seven books on premodern Germany. His Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within was published in March 2018 by Penguin Press.

Order of Santiago: The Knights of Spain and Their ‘Holy War’

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The Order of Santiago is a Christian religious-military order of knights that was founded in Spain during the Middle Ages. Like the Templars and Hospitallers, the order was established to protect pilgrims and to fight against the Muslims. Instead of the Holy Land, however, the Order of Santiago carried out their duties in Spain. The order continues to exist today though as a civil association.

One of Four Spanish Military Orders

The Order of Santiago (known also as the Order of Saint James of the Sword) is one of the four Spanish military orders, the other three being the Orders of Calatrava, Alcántara, and Montesa. According to legend the order was founded by Ramiro I, the king of Asturias, during the 9 th century. The king had won a great victory over the Moors during the Battle of Clavijo in 844 AD. This battle had a great impact on Spain’s national identity. For instance, the triumph of the outnumbered Christians was attributed to the apparition of Saint James, thus contributing to his adoption as the patron saint of Spain. Additionally, the site of Santiago de Compostela developed into an important pilgrimage center and the pilgrims were protected by cavalry.

When Was the Order of Santiago Founded?

The Battle of Clavijo, however, is considered by historians to be fictional and therefore the Order of Santiago is very unlikely to have been founded during the 9 th century. Instead, it is generally accepted that the order was established around the middle of the 12 th century. The exact details surrounding the founding of the order, however, are obscure as there are two rival claimants for the honor.

According to one account, the order had been founded by Ferdinand II, the king of León, in 1171. While on his way back to León from Badajoz, the king took control of the city of Cáceres. It was there that he, the bishop of Salamanca, and 13 knights established the Order of the Fratres of Cáceres. In the same year, the order received its first rule from Cardinal Jacinto, the legate of Pope Alexander III in Spain. Pedro Fernández de Castro served as its first grandmaster. De Castro was a veteran warrior who had gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he encountered the Templars and was inspired to establish a similar order in his homeland.

Why Was the Order of Santiago Founded?

In 1173, the Almohads launched an attack on Cáceres to retake the city. Although the city was captured, the knights refused to surrender and continued to fight. After the battle, the knights were decapitated, and their heads displayed as trophies as a warning to the Christians. The remaining members of the order formed an alliance with the regular canons of Saint Augustine (as the knights themselves followed the Rule of Saint Augustine) and were now responsible for protecting the Sepulchre of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela and the pilgrims who journeyed there.

Who Was the Founder of the Order of Santiago?

In the meantime, the knights had lost their patron, as they had been expelled from Cáceres and were not on good terms with Ferdinand II. As a consequence, they began looking for a new patron and found one in Alfonso III, the king of Castille. In 1174 Alfonso III granted the knights the castle and village of Uclés (in Cuenca) which would serve as their new headquarters. Moreover, using his influence, Alfonso III had the pope, Alexander III, issue a bill recognizing the Order of Santiago as a religious order. Therefore, Alfonso III sometimes considered to be the founder of the order, as opposed to Ferdinand II.

The Growth of the Order of Santiago

The Order of Santiago grew rapidly and at its height had more possessions than the two older orders of Calatrava and Alcántara combined. An important turning point in the history of the order occurred in 1499. The Reconquista had been completed by then and Spain was unified under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. In order to strengthen their own position, the rulers obtained permission from the pope to assign to them the administration of the three major Spanish orders – Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcántara.

The Continuation of the Order of Santiago

The power of the Spanish military orders came to an end during the reign of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V (who ruled the Spanish Empire as Charles I) when the orders were incorporated into the Spanish Crown. Although the orders were united under one government, they still had the right to hold their possessions, titles, and functions separately. Additionally, a Council of Orders was formed to oversee the administration of the orders. Nevertheless, the orders retained their prestige and many figures involved in the conquest and governance of Spain’s possessions in the New World hailed from these orders.

As the Order of Santiago was part of the Spanish Crown it was suppressed in 1873 when Spain declared itself a republic for the first time. After the fall of this republic, the order was re-established though as a nobiliary institute. The order was once more suppressed following the proclamation of the second republic in 1931, which was followed by the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Democracy was restored in 1976 and with it the monarchy and the Order of Santiago. The order continues to exist till this day.

By Wu Mingren in ancient-origins.net

Retiro de Outono 2018 – Tempo de Estudo e Festa

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Nos passados dias 23 e 24 de Novembro o Priorado de Portugal reuniu em Arraiolos os seus Comendadores, Cavaleiros e Damas e levou a cabo o Retiro de Outono de 2018 dedicado à formação inicial dos graus de Cavalaria.

A festa começou na realidade no dia 22 com um jantar organizado pelos Noviços da Comenda de Lisboa – Chagas, numa Sessão Solene de Encerramento de Instrução de Noviços, que decorreu em Lisboa e serviu de oportunidade para falar em ambiente de festa de todos os assuntos que não cabem numa reunião litúrgica normal. Como era de esperar, o convívio prolongou-se na noite, mesmo sem a presença do Comendador, Fr+ Luis Fonseca, retido em casa por uma febre inoportuna.

Tratou-se de uma digna preparação para o Retiro que se aproximava no dia seguinte em Arraiolos.

Foto: “As melhoras Comendador Fonseca!”

Sob os auspícios da Comenda de Arraiolos, o dia 23 iniciou-se com o jantar de convívio, a que se seguiu um debate sobre o Parsival na versão de Chretien de Troyes e o contexto histórico da elaboração deste romance seminal, relacionando-o nomeadamente com a Ordem de Cister e a Ordem do Templo, sem deixar de olhar à simultaneidade do surgimento da nação Portucalense. O debate foi longo e frutuoso. Com o trabalho ao redor dos capítulos iniciais do Persival, os segredos da Cavalaria forma-se revelando e a capa que cobre o conto como um véu foi dando lugar à visão clara das coisas.

No dia seguinte o grupo cresceu mais um pouco com a chegada do Grão Prior e de mais Comendadores, Damas e Cavaleiros e passou-se a um ambiente de sala de aula. Com recurso a apresentações visuais, mas igualmente ao imprescindível quadro para desenhar esquematicamente os assuntos que se iam desenrolando, o Prior de Portugal, Fr+ Luis de Matos e o Comendador de Lisboa, Fr+ Luis Fonseca – já mais recuperado dos últimos dias de febre – abordaram todos os fundamentos iniciáticos da Cavalaria Espiritual, integrando-os na história da tradicional Ordem do Templo, enquadrando-os com elementos da História de Portugal e das suas tradições e lendas, sempre com o Parsival e a Demanda do Santo Graal como pano de fundo.

Entre outros assuntos, esclareceu-se o fundamento teológico da Cavalaria, como mediadora entre os princípios iniciais expressos nas qualidades do Paraíso Perdido e o mundo real onde encontramos a injustiça e a falta de compaixão como regra; o fundamento simbólico da Cavalaria, com os diversos elementos de base geométrica, matemática e metafísica que compõem a ciência cavaleiresca e as regras com que esta procura decifrar o Universo, a posição do Homem e a sua relação com os outros seres e o Criador; terminando com o fundamento iniciático, de cariz mais interior e íntimo, mas verdadeiranente redentor e reintegrador.

Pela tarde do dia 24 juntaram-se os Noviços e Escudeiros que viriam a ser recebidos ou elevados na Ordem durante a celebração do Capítulo após o Banquete. Fizeram-se as apresentações, alguns Irmãos tomaram a palavra para contextualizar cada um dos graus da Ordem, bem como o quadro organizacional da OSMTHU nacional e internacional.

Pelas 20h o grupo foi recebido na Pousada do Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção de Arraiolos para um magnífico Banquete, em que se juntaram Cavaleiros, Damas, Escudeiros e Noviços e suas famílias, bem como alguns convidados. Honrou-nos com a sua presença o Grão Prior de Portugal da OSMTH, Fr+ António Andrade e sua esposa.

Foto: Mesa dos Grão Priores, Oficiais e Comendadores

Seguiu-se o Capítulo conjunto, presidido pelo Comendador de Lisboa – Chagas, Fr+ Luis Fonseca, a que se associaram os Comendadores de Sintra, Fr+ Paulo Valente, de Lagos, Fr+ Victor Varela Martins e de Arraiolos, Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, durante o qual se procedeu à recepção de uma Irmã Noviça, bem como à elevação de quatro Irmãos Escudeiros.

Ficam os parabéns e agradecimentos às Comendas que trabalharam em conjunto para a realização deste evento, particularmente aos esforços do Comendador Fr+ Rui Herdadinha que foi um excelente anfitrião.

United in Mind and Thought

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1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

We should start by going back to the Holy Scriptures. We should seek inspiration in the words that were written for our reconciliation. It’s true, many in the last twenty centuries have rendered these words empty as sea-shells washed away on a distant beach. No worth inside, no pearl or food. Shells that mirror the empty cavities of desolated hearts. But we owe it to ourselves to pick up the shell and bring it up to our ears. What was once empty, if we listen carefully and close our eyes, has the whole ocean inside: water, wind and foamy waves, millions of shiny scale fishes, an infinite number of living forms and signs of life and wonder, pearls and reefs, color, light and refraction. To the listening ear, no shell is empty, no heart is void. We should start then, by going back to the Scriptures and be sure to listen. And listen well.

Colossians 3:13-14

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

TEMPLAR UNITY

Templar Unity is probably one of the most compelling objectives that has emerged in the Templar movement since the Internet and Social Media connected everyone in a single world-reaching network, regardless of country, obedience, templar branch or family. Everyone talks with everyone else and many start wondering why are there so many different groups, when so much is common, so much is shared.

A good friend and Brother, a few weeks ago, during one of our international events, gave me a quick peak of his mind: “What’s ‘ point? Uhu? What’s t’point?” he said in his eastern European broken English while he waved his hands in the air. “What’s point? Uhu?” Indeed, Naned, what is the point of it all? Why are we so many and so few? So noble, spiritual, altruist and utterly divided? So compassionate and merciful but driven apart by fraternal misunderstandings?

I want to write a little about Unity in Templar groups. The last few months have been full of hopeful news and unprecedented events that should transform the Order in the next couple of years. It’s important then to provide some context and help the readers of the Templar Globe understand the challenges ahead, given that many are members of one of the many branches of the Order.

Let me remind you that this article has a point of view: the one of Luis de Matos, myself, Member of the OSMTHU, Chancellor of the Magisterial Council of our branch, and dedicated knight for over 25 years.

THE TEMPLAR LEGACY

This recent movement towards Unity is restricted to one of the five major expressions of the modern Templar Order. I will address these as a whole, under the term “Templar Legacy”, that we can characterise as follows:

1 – Orders that are direct descendants of the Templar Order suspended in 1310

This is a very controversial subject, however there are very few with such a strong claim and impact in history as the Order of Christ in Portugal, whose Caravelas brought forth the Discoveries age in the 15th century. The Order of Christ was reformed and later extinguished in the 19th century and any attempt to follow their trail up to the 20th century is generally fruitless.

2 – Templar Strict Observance

The Order appeared in the 18th century (1753, Baron Von Hünd) and it can be traced as the first of the revivals, over 400 years after the original Templar Order had been suspended. As in all modern Templar Orders (except “1” above) there is no historical link to the original group. In 1778 the TSO became the inner Order of Freemasonry in Europe after the reform known as The Rectification of Wilhelmsbad, and all Templar ramifications within Freemasonry (including the Templar Degrees and Grand Encampments of the United States) derive from this line.

3 – Ordre du Temple de Fabré-Palaprat – Ordre Soverain et Militaire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ or OSMTH)

It has been one of the most successful revivals of the Templar Order, at one stage being recognized by Napoleon as one of the Orders of the Empire. In the early 19th century it sought the recognition of the Order of Christ (see “1” above), but with no success. It’s within this Order that the OSMTHU works. And it’s within it that Unity between the many groups is being discussed at the moment.

4 – Templar Orders founded after 1960

There is a large number of Orders that were founded within a movement that may be called of “New Age” or “Age of Aquarius”, mainly steaming from groups very close to the Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosicross (AMORC) in France and the United States (Ordre Renouvé du Temple, Militia Crucifera Evangelica, Ordre des Veilleurs du Temple, Ordre Souverain du Temple Initiatique, etc.). They are very fragmented while not keeping any concept of provenance for the most part.

5 – Spontaneous Templar groups

There are many groups that use the Templar name, without any connection to any of the afore-mentioned groups or lines. They frequently appear from thin air, with a self-appointed leader, an imaginative concept of what “secrets” the Templars are supposed to have kept, varying from the inoffensive to the extreme (including some extreme right variations emerging in the last few years).

THE PALAPRAT FAMILY

The Fabré-Palaprat revival dates from early in the 19th century. As with all Templar related subjects, it’s very controversial and a long running discussions tends to debate weather or not the Larmenius Charter (please google it!) is a fake document and if Palaprat had legitimacy to claim the continuous line of Templar Grand Masters since the middle ages. We are not going to address that complex subject at the moment. For the OSMTHU, our position is simple, and we can summarize it in two statements:

1 – No, in 1800, apart from the Order of Christ, there were no surviving lines of Orders, heir to a Templar legacy, including Fabré-Palaprat’s. So, he had no claim to the Templar Order. Likewise, we are not the historical Templar Order.

2 – Yes, his Order is legitimate. He was well in his right to revive it. If you don’t think so, don’t bother me with your arguments, go and talk to Pierre de Coubertin and tell him the Olympic Games have to shut down because they are not legitimate. And the athletes used to compete naked, so it clearly is not the same!

UNITY? WERE WE APART?

Yes, the OSMTJ/OSMTH (the Palaprat revival) has been split for over 70 years. There are now four main branches of the Order. The original group survived until the 1940’s under the following leadership:

1804-1839  Bernard Fabre-Palaprat (Grand Master)
1839-1840  Sir William Smith (Grand Master)
1840-1850  Edward VII. d’Angleterre et George V. de Hanovre (Grand Master)
1850  Narcisse Valleray (Regent)
1866  A.G.M. Vernois (Regent)
1892  Joséphin Péladan (Regent)
1894  Secretariat International des Templiers
1934  Conseil de Regence – Joseph Vandenberg
1935  Theodore Covias (Regent)
1935-1945  Emile Isaac Vandenberg (Regent)

During the Second World War the communication between groups was difficult. International coordination had been sparse between 1850 and 1939, with Regents and Secretariats instead of a Master. By the start of the war, Priories were national entities, very much autonomous, working on their own with very little international reach. Fearing the impact of the war, Regent Vandenberg decided to place all important documents in the hands of a diplomat residing in Bruxelles, member of the Order, because Belgium was surely out of reach of German forces and an Embassy would be a safe place. As we now know, Bruxelles was not safe, so when the Diplomat had to return to his home country, he took all the documents to safety with him. That was Antonio de Sousa Fontes, from Porto, Portugal.

By the end of the war, Vandenberg requested the documents back to reorganize the ruling body, but he died in a car accident before his orders were followed through. That placed Antonio Sousa Fontes as custodian of the Regency documents, which he refused to surrender, appointing himself as Regent. That was not accepted by most of the Priories that had worked under Vandenberg in Europe and the Prior of Switzerland, Baron VonLupreccht, declared the autonomy of his Priory, in which he was followed by several others (including Scotland and England). This gave way to the Autonomous branch of the Order, also called IFA (international Federative Alliance) until 1999, today called OSMTHU.

1) OSMTHU

(osmthu.org and templarsosmthu.wordpress.com)

That is our group. The one that has brought you The Templar Globe in the last 12 years.

Since the 1940’s the Priories have been working in autonomy, cooperating in many projects and subjects and growing as time went by. There were limited contacts with other groups (including Antonio Fontes OSMTH) because communication was sparse and mainly by letter. In the 1980’s the Priories created a Federation (IFA) to help improve cooperation and in the 1990’s the IFA helped the other branches reach their goals. Talks were held with the OSMTJ group and what would become the OSMTH (also sometimes called “the Atlantic Obedience”), in Tomar, Lisbon, Madrid, London, Salzburg, Turku among others. In Tomar the historic “Protocol of Tomar” was signed in 1996. Although Unity was not achieved at the time, the signers and their branches remained in close contact, cooperating in a non-official capacity for many years.

In 1999 the OSMTHU has elected Fr+ Fernando de Toro-Garland as Master, followed by Fr+ Antonio Paris. This is the list of Masters:

1945 – 1987  Autonomous Priories
1987 – 1999 International Federative Alliance
1999 Fernando de Toro-Garland (Master)
2004
Antonio Paris (Master)
2006
Luis de Matos (Interim Master)
2018
Antonio Paris (Master)

At this point, following the “Declaration of Arraiolos“, the OSMTHU is once again committed to unite the Templar world. The declaration was signed during the Pentecost of 2018, in the same exact day Fr+ Fernando Fontes passed away. We were not aware of that fact when we were preparing the Declaration. Being the head of the OSMTH – Regency,  the death of Fr+ Fontes precipitated change (as we shall see ahead) and the desire of many groups that had split from his branch to start talking.

2) OSMTH – REGENCY

(osmth.net)

This is the second branch that originated from the Second World War situation. It is also referred to as OSMTH – Porto.

When Antonio Fontes decide to take up the Regency of the Order upon the death of Vandenberg, without significant opposition since VonLuprecht maintained the autonomy status that prevailed before the war (with other Priories), the Order de facto had two branches: the OSMTH Fontes with its seat at Porto and the Autonomous branch (that became the OSMTHU) with his main seat at Zurich.

The OSMTH – Regency proceeded, creating Priories and expanding the number of Templars that had no knowledge of the WW2 events. In 1960 Antonio Fontes died and his son, Fr+ Fernando Fontes, took over the branch of the Order and the titles of Regent and Grand Master. This created the problem that became the de facto running argument for the splits and crisis that overtook the OSMTH – Regency over the next 60 years: the fact that Fernando Fontes hadn’t been elected as Master and the way he run the Order as a personal asset inherited from his father. This was in stark contrast to how the Order was created or run up to that moment. In all fairness, all those accepted into the Order during that period seem to have had no problem with the setup when they requested to be knighted. It was only later, when their ambitions of status and degrees were eventually cut short by the Grand Master that complaints started to arise.

After the 60’s there was no connection between the OSMTH and the OSMTHU, having evolved in parallel without great awareness of each other’s work.

The Regency group had the following leaders:

1945-1960 Antonio Sousa Fontes (Regente)
1960-2018 Fernando Fontes (Regente e Grão Mestre)
2018 Susana Fontes (Regente) e Albino Neves (Grão Mestre)

By 1970 there was a growing opinion within the OSMTH that Fontes had to call elections. Some fringes wanted to replace him, but others just wanted to provide the legitimate act that would confirm his position not as an inheritance (that could be put into question), but as properly an elected Grand Master. Plans were put in place to hold the election in Tomar, but when the time came, Fernando Fontes refused to be subjected to an electoral procedure, saying that he was the Grand Master and no election could add anything to that fact. This would cause the first major split, that created the third large branch of the Order, as we will see.

3) OSMTJ

(osmtj.net)

Since the elections had been called and Fernando Fontes did not attend the meeting, a number of Priors decided to hold them anyway, creating the split that becomes the OSMTJ, based in Switzerland, led by Master Zdrowjewski. This is their line of Masters:

1970-1989  General Antoine Zdrowjewski
1989-1994  Georges Lamirand
1994-Today Dr. Nicolas Haimovici Hastier (Regent)

Currently the Order is headed by Fr+ Nicolas Haimovici Hastier (one of the signers of the “Protocol of Tomar”)

In the 90’s, history repeated itself. A large group of Priories, lead by the very serious and well organized American Priories, with a mostly military membership (that included the Secretary General of the Group, the then Col. Ronald Scott Mangun, later signer of the “Protocol of Tomar”), offered Fernando Fontes the opportunity to be elected as Grand Master in elections in which he would be the sole candidate. Initially he accepted, but as the time of the election came closer, he resisted the idea. During the meeting in Paris in 1995 the group became offended by the absence of the Grand Master to his own election and decide to declare autonomy. That’s when the new branch was formed.

4) OSMTH – (aka “Atlantic Obedience”)

(osmth.org)

Between 1995 and 1998 talks were held with the OSMTHU (AFI) and the OSMTJ. In 1998 the group was stable and took the step to elect its own Master, a former member of the OSMTHU as Prior of England.

1998 Sir Roy Redgrave (Master)
2005 James Carey (Master)
2009 Patrick Rea (Master)
2013 Robert Disney (Master)
2015 Patrick Rea (Master)
2018 [New Master] (Master)

UNITY

These four branches of the original OSMTH of Fabré-Palaprat represent among them over 2/3 of all Palaprat related Priories in the world.

There are still many Priories and smaller organizations that work alone or in a close group that should be counted. A new Ordre du Temple claims to have re-established the Joanite Church of Palaprat, but the provenance is not verified, with many splits after a few short years of activity indicating leadership issues. Apart from the four main branches quoted, that show consistent work, many years of history and a clear provenance, there is still some work to be done with the fragmented branches that seem to appear and disappear every year with a short presence on the Internet followed by oblivion.

For the first time in over 70 years, the several groups have invited each other to visit and talk about “unity of mind and thought”. An international joint group with members of the largest groups is now being set up and will start talks in 2019. Even if Unity is still a step too far, convergence and cooperation seem to be on the horizon.

We tell everyone we are ecumenical. And we are. However we had the tendency of excluding other Templars. Most of us know members of all the branches, talk to them, have close friendships that have lasted for many years, but when we put our mantles on, we have been requested to turn our backs on them because they were “not templars” like us.

We are required to take care of the poor, the feeble and the needed, but we have been advised to neglect the brother and sister that identify as Templars because we are not on the same branch. That had to stop. The first steps have been taken. We expect to bring you interesting news in 2019!

THE PHOTOS

During the Pentecost Celebration of 2018 of the Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU. brothers from the OSMTH, Grand Prior of Portugal, Fr+ Antonio Andrade and his Chancellor Fr+ Fernando Castelo Branco, visit with Prior Fr+ Vinko Lisec from the OSMTHU. Prior Fr+ Luis de Matos and Master Antonio Paris were hosting.

Ceremony of OSMTH – Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018; Three branches of the Order represented: OSMTH, OSMTHU, OSMTH – Regency (Porto)

Left to right: Fr+ António Andrade, Prior of Portugal of OSMTH (“Atlantic Obedience”); Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos of Priory of Portugal of OSMTHU; S+ Susana Sousa Fontes, Regent of the OSMTH – Porto; Nenad S. Davidovic, General Magistral Advisor in the Magnum Magisterium OSMTH Porto and the Great Prior of Serbia and of New Jerusalem

Ceremony of OSMTH – Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018; Three branches of the Order represented: OSMTH, OSMTHU, OSMTH – Regency (Porto)

Ceremony of OSMTH – Regency Porto in Castelo de Vide, October 6, 2018

Left to Right: Unidentified, Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana, Priory of Portugal OSMTHU; Unidentified, Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior and Chancellor of the OSMTHU Magisterial Council; S+ Susana Sousa Fontes, Regente OSMTH – Porto; Fr+ André Cardoso, Secretary General of OSMTH – Porto; F+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon Chagas, OSMTHU; Prior of Toledo of OSMTH – Porto; Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos, OSMTHU; S+ Blanca, Prior of Galicia, OSMTH – Porto; Fr+João Pedro Silva, OSMTHU; S+ Susana Ferreira, OSMTHU; Fr+ Ricardo Salum, Head of Feytorias, OSMTHU; Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos, OSMTHU.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

OSMTHU delegation arrives in Torres Novas. Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos and S+ Sandra Oliveira

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

OSMTHU delegation, left to right: Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Lagos; Fr+ Luis de Matos, Grand Prior of Portugal and Chancellor of the Magisterial Council; S+ Sandra Oliveira; S+ Paula Mateus, Preceptor of Porto; Fr+ Paulo Valente, Commander of Sintra; S+ Susana Ferreira; Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos; Fr+ João Pedro Silva; Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisboa – Chagas and Fr+ Ricardo Salum, Head of Feytorias

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

The delegation enjoying the day.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

Two Priors of Portugal (Fr+ Antonio Andrade OSMTH and Fr+ Luis de Matos OSMTHU) greeting just before the opening of the ceremony.

Ceremony of OSMTH in Torres Novas, October 27, 2018

Prior of Portugal OSMTH, under Master Fr+ Patrick Rea, Fr+ Antonio Andrade, opening the National Chapter in the Alcaidaria of the Templar Castle of Torres Novas. In attendance Fr+ André Cardoso, Secretary General of Master Albino Neves, and a large number of Knights and Dames of the OSMTH – Regency and Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor of the Magisterial Council of the OSMTHU under Master Antonio Paris and his delegation of the Priory of Portugal.

Abre al público el edificio islámico más completo de Toledo, el Museo Casa del Temple

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El próximo 30 de agosto abrirá al público el Museo Casa del Temple en Toledo, una nueva oferta turística que sumará riqueza patrimonial y que permitirá conocer un Bien de Interés Cultural considerado la casa islámica más completa que existe hoy en día en la ciudad.

Tal y como publica en su cuenta de Facebook el Museo Casa del Temple, el objetivo es convertir este espacio en un centro cultural, en sala de exposiciones, gastrobar y en lugar de eventos. Además, allí se expondrán un conjunto de piezas arqueológicas aparecidas en la casa, otras piezas de colecciones privadas, así como un 3D con el que entender la edificación en su origen.

La actividad expositiva comenzará con una muestra del artista chileno afincado en España Guillermo Muñoz Vera.

La Casa del Temple en Toledo data de los siglos XI-XII, perteneciendo a esta época la estructura general, típicamente andalusí, sustentada por las bóvedas del sótano y organizada en torno al patio. Diversas fuentes coinciden en señalar que el inmueble fue, en tiempos, propiedad de la Orden de los Templarios, a los que probablemente les donase el edificio Alfonso VIII para recabar su apoyo a las diversas campañas militares del monarca.

Enclavada en pleno Casco Histórico, justo al lado de San Miguel el Alto, sus alfarjes fueron restaurados en 2017 por el Consorcio de la ciudad, entrando a formar parte de las rutas del patrimonio desconocido.

Bien de Interés Cultural con la categoría de monumento desde 2002, el patio interior de la planta baja comunica con las cuatro crujías que definen el inmueble. Lo que vemos a nuestro alrededor son un arco de medio punto decorado con yeserías mudéjares y, ojo, el forjado del techo primitivo, que se supone que es anterior a 1109 y con canes labrados en el interior del patio. Y en uno de sus laterales conserva el alfarje con las tabicas originales. A cada lado de esta entrada, dos arcos de herradura apuntados y decorado con finas yeserías.

Ya en el sótano se encuentra un salón con un zócalo decorado con pinturas y que representan arcos entrecruzados, temas vegetales y una cenefa, todo supuestamente anterior a 1109. A lo que hay su añadir la planta primera y el ático.

in encastillalamancha.es