Burglars have stolen a priceless religious artifact believed to be the mythical Holy Grail – after it was loaned to a seriously ill woman.
The Nanteos Cup, an ancient wooden chalice, was rumoured to have been carried over to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, years after the crucifixion of Christ.
The revered Catholic figure later founded a religious settlement at Glastonbury and legend has it that the “grail” then came into the safekeeping of monks.
Over the centuries the mysterious wooden bowl was said to have magical healing powers and in later years it came into the ownership of the Steadman family, who kept it in a bank vault in Wales.
But the Birmingham Mail discovered the cup has now been stolen by burglars after being temporarily loaned to a seriously ill woman connected to the Steadman family.
Raiders struck after she had been admitted to hospital and stole the cup – sparking a major police investigation by West Mercia Police.
It is understood burglars struck at the property in Weston under Penyard, between last Monday and yesterday.
The cup was previously included in a Channel Five documentary called Search for the Holy Grail. In the programme, experts claimed it was actually made at least 1,400 years after the crucifixion.
But the cup has a long held reputation for healing, with people drinking from it in the hope of curing their illnesses.
The Holy Grail has been a issue of controversy and debate amongst historians and theologians – with some religious figures claiming the grail is actually the Holy Chalice, used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.
The search for the mythical religious artefact was the plot for one of the 1980s’ biggest blockbusters, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
O claustro principal do convento de Cristo está referenciado na história da arte universal como um dos mais belos exemplares da arquitectura renascentista europeia. Mas este claustro é mais do que um tesouro da arte do renascimento, é a construção que enterra de vez a Idade Média em Portugal e o alinha com o novo humanismo europeu.
Convidado: João Paulo Martins, arquitecto
Visita Guiada é um programa de televisão e de rádio sobre os tesouros do património cultural português. Tesouros com reconhecido valor universal, peças que qualquer país ocidental se orgulharia de integrar no seu património, e pouco conhecidos dos portugueses.
De um cálice de prata com decoração moçárabe e mil anos de idade a um claustro que está referenciado como obra-prima do renascentismo europeu, passando por uma colecção de arte africana classificada como uma das melhores do mundo, a natureza dos objetos, o seu contexto geográfico e o seu tempo histórico variam de episódio para episódio.
Conhecer o Património Cultural português
Realizou-se no dia 13 de Julho uma visita ao Convento dos Capuchos de Sintra, organizada pela Comendadoria de Sintra do Priorado Ibérico da Osmthu, com o intuito de proceder à Instrução de Escudeiros.
Esta segunda visita de Instrução versou o tema da via monástica, depois de se ter estudado o tema da via cavaleiresca através das lendas da Demanda do Santo Graal, há poucas semanas em visita ao Palácio da Pena e seus jardins. Completa-se assim a abordagem aos dois pilares fundamentais da Cavalaria Templária, ao mesmo tempo militar e monástica, numa contradição aparente apenas resolvida pela prática estrita da Regra.
O grupo, composto de Cavaleiros, Damas, Escudeiros e Escudeiras bem como de alguns familiares, foi convidado a explorar o Convento dos Capuchos de forma autónoma, sem mais explicações para além das fornecidas pelos elementos escritos dados a qualquer turista pelos Parques de Sintra ao adquirir uma entrada. Contudo foi-lhes dito que observassem com atenção cada detalhes e que questionassem tudo o que vissem, abrindo o coração às impressões intuitivas de modo a poder trazer dados relevantes quando todos se juntassem no pátio de entrada pouco depois.
E assim partiu cada um por si, em demanda. A maioria não conhecia o Convento ou a sua história. O Convento dos Capuchos em Sintra fazia parte da Província da Arrábida dos Capuchinhos Franciscanos, mas era um lugar especialmente humilde e inóspito, mesmo para os padrões franciscanos. Estende-se ao longo de uma colina da Serra de Sintra, pejada de largos rochedos, que as construções contornam e assimilam como parte integrante do seu corpo. A penha imensa que constitui o tecto da capela, ao mesmo tempo que é o soalho de suporte das celas e parede do refeitório, antes de mergulhar misteriosamente no chão telúrico do lugar, impressiona e está de tal modo organicamente integrada na construção que, aos poucos, se vai tornando quase invisível ao olhar do visitante. A pobreza é absoluta e não existem decorações sumptuosas ou obras de arte de relevo. Mais depressa faz lembrar uma casa de aldeia antiga ou um mosteiro nos confins do Tibete do que uma casa de religiosos cristãos, não fosse pela altura insignificante das portas das celas, a exigir uma vénia para se transporem e pelo seu tamanho exíguo e impraticável como lugar de descanso.
Cada um destes pormenores não deixou de chamar a atenção aos Escudeiros, que os reportaram, um após o outro quando se reuniram no átrio de novo, após a primeira volta de reconhecimento. Numa segunda volta foram então abordados vários aspectos relacionados com a via monástica e conventual, procurando sempre entender de que modo se enquadravam no caso particular dos Templários, na sua época. Mergulhando num meio somente conventual, pode o grupo perceber essa vertente sem mais distracções e, depois, recordando a experiência da instrução anterior, compreender como um Cavaleiro pode ser humilde, mesmo numa cela com varanda e vista sobre o mar e senhor numa cela exígua e humilde com a dos Capuchos, numa feliz expressão de um dos Escudeiros. A história do lugar foi depois contada, sem esquecer as suas associações a várias figuras ilustres (e notáveis de todos os pontos de vista), que incluem D. João de Castro, Vice-rei da Índia e Cavaleiro da Ordem de Cristo; D. Sebastião e o Cardeal (depois Rei) D. Henrique, bem como o incontornável Frei Honório.
O dia terminou com uma reflexão conjunta e um período de perguntas e respostas no claustro conventual. Tinham passado quatro horas desde a entrada, voando que nem uma ave. Não se deu pelo tempo passar. Foi então que um dos Escudeiros do Alentejo mostrou que se tinha preparado para a viagem, tão longe da sua terra, exibindo pão e um belo salpicão que fizeram as delícias de todos, numa improvisada refeição fraternal de encerramento, de regresso ao pátio dos Capuchos de Sintra.
Com logo “Templar Globe”, por: Susana Ferreira
Outras: Internet e Parques de Sintra
The Levant, the region running inland from the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean, has been fought over for millennia. Its vital trade and military roads linking Anatolia to north Africa and Arabia have been guarded and coveted since time immemorial. Control is everything, as Moses found out to his cost when he wanted to move north up the ancient King’s Highway out of the Sinai and into Edom (modern day southern Israel):
“Now let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard, or drink water from any well; we will go along the King’s Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.” But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, or we will come out with the sword against you.” The Israelites said to him, “We will stay on the highway; and if we drink of your water, we and our livestock, then we will pay for it. It is only a small matter; just let us pass through on foot.” But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large force, heavily armed. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through their territory; so Israel turned away from them.
Countless cultures have fought for dominance in the region — Canaanite, Philistine, Hebrew, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuk, crusader, Ayyubid, Khwarazmian, Mamluk, Ottoman, British, French, Jewish, the list goes on. Most of the conquests have been bloody. All have caused regional upheavals. Some have spread even further, sending international shockwaves east and west.
This week marks two major anniversaries of crusader history, both of which had a profound impact on the whole of Europe. On 4 July 1187, Saladin crushed the crusaders at the battle of the Horns of Hattin — one of the most important military encounters of the medieval world. Ninety years later, on 1 July 1277, Sultan al-Malik Baybars died. Although less well known in the West than Saladin, Baybars was a far more brutal and effective warlord. It was his devastating campaigns that finally ripped the heart out of the crusades, propelling the whole project into its darkening, twilight years.
When the crusaders had first conquered Jerusalem in 1099, waves of elation crashed across Latin Christendom. Jerusalem was the umbilicus mundi, the centre of Europe’s conception of the world as depicted in medieval maps like Hereford’s glorious Mappa Mundi. God clearly favoured the Christian settlers, and had given their armies Jerusalem to prove it.
The crusades were not the first time Jerusalem was under Christian rule. The Holy Land had been Christian in the days of the Byzantine Empire (c. AD 325–637). Emperor Constantine the Great and Empress Helena had Christianised the city, renaming it “Jerusalem” and wiping out the pagan remains of Aelia Capitolina built by Hadrian in AD 130 on the rubble of Jerusalem. At the heart of his new Jerusalem, Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and made it the pre-eminent Christian pilgrimage destination. However, since the Rashidun Caliphate under Umar the Great had conquered the Near East in AD 637, Jerusalem had been under Islamic rule.
Hand in hand with the crusaders’ initial elation in 1099 came the practical problem of controlling vast swathes of conquered territory far from home in their new land of “Outremer”, the place “beyond the sea”. The result was countless famous battles in which the pendulum swung one way then the other during the 192 years of crusader presence in the Levant. Although many of the engagements are still famous — like Jacob’s Ford and the Field of Blood — the Horns of Hattin stands head and shoulders above them as one of the turning points of world history.
Today, as the politically unrelated and separate conflicts in Syria and Iraq coalesce and evolve into an all-consuming regional power struggle, it is worth looking at the battle of the Horns of Hattin as a reminder of the region’s merciless ability to keep redrawing its borders and reinventing itself in blood.
First, put Ridley Scott’s epic 2005 film, Kingdom of Heaven, out of mind. It excels in evoking the existential crisis of the crusader kingdom at the tail end of the reign of the leper king, Baldwin IV. And it is a seductive and visually sumptuous world, where faith, honour, ideals, and love vie alongside ambition, bloodlust, venality, and the ugly side of unchecked militarism. But it is not a faithful account of the events leading up to the cataclysmic battle of Hattin and Balian of Ibelin’s doomed defence of Jerusalem. For a start, the real Balian was 44 years old at Hattin, did not know one end of an anvil from the other, was married to a member of the Byzantine royal family, and was born and lived his whole life as a powerful, wealthy noble in the crusader states.
The true story of Hattin is nevertheless every bit as soaked in romance and ambition as Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.
Some years earlier, Lucia of Botrun, a beautiful and wealthy Levantine heiress, was ignominiously placed onto a huge set of scales and publicly weighed. A merchant from Pisa piled up the pan on the other side with gold bezants until he had measured out her weight in gold, which he then gave to her overlord as payment for her hand in marriage. In the wings, a headstrong Flemish crusader, Gerard de Ridefort, vowed revenge. He had previously asked Lucia’s overlord, Count Raymond III of Tripoli (of Toulouse) for her hand, but his request was refused. Despite the fact Raymond was one of the kingdom’s wisest and coolest heads, Gerard immediately left Raymond’s service, nursing a grievance that would lead to the downfall of a kingdom.
After recovering from a serious illness, or perhaps sensing faster promotion as a professional crusader, Gerard soon took the dramatic step of professing solemn monastic vows as a Knight Templar, devoting himself to a celibate community life of praying and fighting. His exceptional abilities were quickly recognised, and he rose swiftly through the Order’s ranks to become their tenth Grand Master. This unique position gave him privileged access to Christendom’s royalty — especially in Jerusalem — an influence he used, among other things, to oppose and thwart Raymond whenever he could.
In 1185, on the death of the leper King Baldwin IV, his seven-year-old nephew took the throne under the regency of Raymond. But when the young king died within a year, the crown passed to his mother and step-father: Sibylla of Jerusalem and Guy of Lusignan. The kingdom promptly tore itself into two poisonously opposed factions — those like Gerard de Ridefort and the Templars who supported Queen Sibylla and King Guy, and those like Count Raymond who backed Isabella, Sibylla’s half-sister.
With the kingdom hopelessly divided, the scene was set for a catastrophe. It just needed someone to light the touchpaper.
King Guy counted among his camp a maverick one-man army: Raynald of Châtillon, “the Elephant of Christ”. Raynald had been in the crusader states since the second crusade, and had spent 15 years in a Muslim jail before leading the crusader forces to a spectacular victory against Saladin at the fêted battle of Montgisard, Saladin’s most crushing defeat. Raynald was therefore a seasoned operator in the region, and had been rewarded with the lordship of Oultrejourdain (the lands beyond the River Jordan). However, he is usually most often remembered for his cruelty, endless piracy and plundering, unwillingness to obey kings, and repeated breaking of delicate truces to the annoyance of all sides.
In 1187, when Raynald again broke a truce and attacked yet another Muslim caravan travelling the King’s Highway near his Red Sea outpost at Kerak, Saladin could stand by no longer. He declared the truce to be a sham, and led an invasion army across the Jordan. Raynald’s lawlessness had finally provoked the largest united Muslim force the crusaders had ever seen.
The end began quickly. On 1 May 1187, at the Springs of Cresson near Nazareth, a small group of around 140 Templars and Hospitallers found themselves confronting a 7.000-strong detachment of the Muslim army under al-Afdal, Saladin’s son. The master of the Hospitallers and several senior Templars counselled retreat, but Gerard de Ridefort accused them of cowardice and ordered an attack. The result was a charnel house. Gerard de Ridefort and two other Templars were the only known survivors.
Back in Jerusalem. King Guy and the royal court knew that a full-scale onslaught from Saladin’s 30,000 men was now imminent. All they could do was wait to see where it would come.
Saladin made the first move. He advanced to Tiberias on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee. The castle belonged to Count Raymond III of Tripoli, who was away with the royal court, leaving it garrisoned by Eschiva, his wife.
On 2 July, King Guy held a war council to decide on a response. And it was here, at this critical moment in the history of the crusader kingdom, that the memory of Lucia of Botrun on the gold scales filled the room. Count Raymond calmly advised King Guy that Saladin was setting a trap, trying to get the crusaders to leave the safety and water of Sepphoris. He was, Raymond explained, hoping to lure the crusaders onto arid open ground where the Muslims’ numerical advantage could be best used. But whatever Raymond said was always wrong in the eyes of Gerard de Ridefort and Raynald of Châtillon, who shouted him down, accusing him of cowardice. They argued long into the night that King Guy should immediately lead the crusaders to march on Tiberias. In undoubtedly the worst decision of his life, Guy allowed himself to be persuaded by Gerard and Raynald, and ordered the army to ready itself. He was a politician not a soldier, and his lack of experience was about to cost the crusaders dearly.
The following day, 3 July, the pride of the crusading army thundered out of the springs of Sepphoris heading east for Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. From the moment they left, the outcome was sealed. Saladin had to do very little. The summer heat was unbearable, and the mail-clad crusaders lacked water. To make them even thirstier, Saladin lit brushwood fires around them, engulfing the advancing columns in clouds of billowing smoke. Panicked, choking, and dehydrated, the crusader army broke apart, allowing Saladin to encircle them. The crusaders were finally corralled on the two hills known as the Horns of Hattin, just six miles short of Tiberias, where the massacre began.
King Guy, Gerard de Ridefort, and Raynald of Châtillon were all taken prisoner. The crusaders’ most sacred relic, the True Cross discovered by the Empress Helena in the AD 320s, was also captured, taken in triumph to Damascus, and never seen again.
As depicted in Kingdom of Heaven, Saladin invited King Guy and Raynald of Châtillon into his tent, where he offered a groggy Guy a cup of iced water to slake his thirst. When Guy then passed the cup to Raynald, Saladin responded that he had not personally offered refreshment to Raynald, and was therefore not bound by any rules of hospitality towards him. He asked Raynald why he had broken so many oaths over the years. Raynald replied that kings had always acted thus, and he had done no more. Saladin then personally beheaded Raynald, before dragging his decapitated body over to a terrified Guy. “Kings do not kill kings”, he reassured Guy, but explained that Raynald was an oath-breaker whose repeated “maleficence and perfidy” had warranted immediate death.
Guy and the other captured nobles were all eventually ransomed, apart from the 230 Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller whom Saladin judged too militarily dangerous to be allowed freedom. He ordered them beheaded on the spot:
With him was a whole band of scholars and sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics, each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais, the unbelievers showed black despair.
(Imad ad-Din, On the Conquest of the Holy City)
With their army decimated, the crusaders could only watch as one by one their cities then fell. Queen Sibylla and Patriarch Heraclius mounted a last-ditch defence of Jerusalem, before roping in Balian of Ibelin, who had dropped by to collect his family. Balian’s involvement was in strict defiance of an oath of non-belligerence he had given Saladin in order to be allowed to travel to Jerusalem, but he wrote to Saladin to explain his predicament, and Saladin seemed happy for Balian to try to organise Jerusalem’s defences. In any event, they both knew Jerusalem could not withstand a siege. Balian had only a handful of knights, so spontaneously knighted the city’s squires to help in the effort. But it was largely symbolic. On 2 October, Balian went to Saladin’s tent. Saladin confirmed that he had sworn to kill all Jerusalem’s men and to enslave the women and children. In response, Balian threatened to execute the 5,000 Muslim prisoners in Jerusalem, kill the crusaders’ families and livestock, destroy all treasures, and raze the al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock to the ground before he and the men marched out to meet their glorious deaths at Saladin’s hands. Unnerved, Saladin suggested a peaceful surrender, which Balian accepted. Saladin then granted safe passage to all inhabitants who could pay their way, and sold the remaining men, women, and children into slavery.
The reaction across Christendom was utter disbelief. It was unthinkable that Jerusalem was no longer a Christian city. Four generations of Western children had grown up knowing that Jerusalem was part of Christendom. The grief at losing it tore deep into the soul of the West. On hearing the news, Pope Urban III died of shock. Within two years, Europe’s leading warrior, Richard the Lionheart, was personally in Outremer to set things right. But the tide had turned, and he failed ever to set eyes on Jerusalem.
Although the crusader states would limp on for another 105 years from their new headquarters at Tyre and then at Acre, medieval Christendom never again owned Jerusalem outright, and life became immeasurably harsher for the remaining crusaders and settlers — notably as a result of the campaigns of Sultan al-Malik Baybars, who died on 1 July 1277, providing the other major Levantine anniversary this week.
Unlike any of the crusaders’ previous opponents, Baybars was a military machine. On some levels, Saladin was not an especially talented general — over the course of 17 years of campaigning against the crusaders, he was regularly not successful on the battlefield. Baybars, on the other hand, was a highly effective general. He rose to power by murdering two Sultans of Egypt (including the last Ayyubid of Saladin’s dynasty), before finally taking personal control as Sultan, leading a hardened army of Mamluks from Egypt and Syria. He was a warlord who had built Egypt’s military caste of slave soldiers (mamluk means slave) into a juggernaut that dominated without opposition, steamrollering both the crusaders and the Mongols invading from the east. To put that into perspective, the Mongols had recently blitzkrieged their way from China to Poland, slaughtering entire populations. No terror like it had ever been seen. In many cities, there was no one left to clear away the mountains of rotting bodies. When Baybars and his Mamluks defeated them in AD 1260 at Ain Jalut (in the Jezreel Valley, Galilee), it was the first time the massed Mongol forces had ever been convincingly beaten. It is little wonder that the Islamic world has always told stories of Baybars, whereas Saladin fell into relative obscurity until resuscitated by Western interest.
Saladin may have broken the crusaders’ hearts, but it was Baybars who effectively snuffed out the crusade movement. As the news from Syria and Iraq in the last few weeks now makes clear, the complexion of the Levant region is changing again. The vacuum in Iraq and the disintegration of society in Syria have created new groups, alliances, and interests. We do well to remember that the region is one where nothing has ever stood still for long.
in The Telegraph
by: Dominic Selwood
Dr Dominic Selwood is a former criminal barrister, novelist and historian with a passion for the less visited corners of the archives. He is the author of the crypto-thriller, The Sword of Moses (2013), and the textbook on the Knights Templar, Knights of the Cloister (1999). He tweets as @DominicSelwood
Rare Archive of 13th Century Knights Templar Charters and Deeds goes under the hammer at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions in London. Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014.
A significant archive of 28 charters and deeds granting gifts of land and property in West Yorkshire to the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitallers is being auctioned at Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions’ Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014.
Est. £40,000-60,000 [Lot 183]
Simon Luterbacher, Director of Manuscripts & English Literature at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions said: “Documents relating to the Knights Templar are extremely rare and highly sought after; an archive of this size and quality has not been seen in auction for over 50 years, and likely won’t be again.”
The Knights Templar was a Christian military order founded after the first crusade by Hugo de Payens and Bernard of Clairvaulx to defend pilgrims travelling between Europe and the Holy Land. The order was established in England during the reign of Henry II and quickly gained a large estate throughout several counties, and Yorkshire in particular.
They enjoyed patronage under several kings, especially Richard I, King John and Henry III and were noted for their financial dealings. The order became a favoured charity throughout Christendom when they were officially endorsed by the Catholic Church around 1129; they grew in membership and power.
With their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, Templar Knights were the most skilled and feared fighting units of the Crusades. Once the Holy Land was lost and rumours of the secret initiation ceremony began to circulate and created mistrust, the order was suppressed by order of Philip IV of France in 1307, and later, in England in 1308.
The Knights Hospitallers, or the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, now the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, was a parallel organisation founded in 1099 by The Blessed Gerard Thom to help sick pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.
As with the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitallers had a military function and gained large estates in the twelfth century. In the 1140s the Order was granted ten acres of land in Clerkenwell, which became their headquarters and of which the gateway still remains and is now the museum of the Order in England. After the fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem, the order moved its headquarters, briefly to Cyprus, then until 1522 to Rhodes, and finally, Malta.
Ten of the 28 are charters and deeds of gifts to the Knights Templar of Temple Newsam comprising:
Richard de Rihil [Ryhill], of c. 20 acres in South Crossland, land in Waderode (land on the river Calder), one and a half acres by the moor near Adam le Venur with rights of burning, building and fencing (3 deeds); Lady Alina, widow, of Crossland, daughter of Philip de Rihill, of half a house or toft, which Elias, son of Adam le Venur held and the right to take wood for building and burning within the boundaries of Crossland, as well as pannage for their pigs within the boundaries of the donors woods and others.
Seventeen of the 28 are charters and deeds of gifts to the Knights Hospitallers of the preceptory of Newland comprising:
Alan, son of Simon de Wately, of all Hardinge Rode and land in Colresle; Robert de Weteley [Whitley or Wheatley], of a third part of the land his uncle gave in Whitley; Matilda of Stanforham of 3s which Jordan, son of Matthew pays from the rent of Flackton [Flockton]; Elias, son of Haswi of Heton [Kirkheaton], of land in Heton; William, son of Michael of Brethwisel, of land in Brethwisel; Adam, son of Robert de Notton, of land between the stream and castle of Almanbira [Almondbury]and others.
The final deed is by Adam, son of Adam de Byrkeg de Cumberward to Peter of Colriselay, granting the land and messuage of the Hospital of Jerusalem in Crossland.
The sale will be held on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ saleroom in London’s Mayfair. Viewing is at Bloomsbury House on Tuesday 15th July 9:30am – 5:30pm, Wednesday 16th July 9:30am – 7:30pm and day of sale from 9:30am. The catalogue will be available to view online at www.bloomsburyauctions.com
Terá lugar no próximo Domingo, 13 de Julho de 2014, a segunda Visita/Instrução deste ano para formação de Escudeiros, desta vez ao Convento dos Capuchos em Sintra. O tema a abordar será a Via Monástica e a Via Sacerdotal.
Será mais uma tarde de aprendizagem e agradável convívio fraternal, já que a visita é fechada apenas aos membros da Ordem, seus familiares e amigos. O Priorado Ibérico da Osmthu mais uma vez aproveita a vantagem excepcional de ter uma Comenda sobranceira à Vila de Sintra (Património da Humanidade), domínios de grande tradição histórica, artística e espiritual para marcar a forma única e diferenciada que tem de viver o espírito de Cavalaria nos tempos modernos. Com qualidade, com intensidade e com sensibilidade.
Assim Deus ajude.
A visit to the Palace of Pena in Sintra and it’s Forest Park, took place June 22nd, organized by the Commandery of Sintra of the Iberian Priory Osmthu, in order to perform an Instruction of Novices.
The theme of the day was the Quest of the Holy Grail. The location could not have been more appropriate. In fact, upon seeing Pena Palace, Richard Strauss said: “Today is the happiest day of my life. I have been to Italy, Sicily, Greece and Egypt, but I’ve never seen anything like the Pena. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. This is the true Garden of Klingsor and up there is the Castle of the Holy Grail.”
The rain threatened to ruin the day, but the sun opened the cloudy sky just in time for the visit. For about two hours the large group recalled the legend of Parzival in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s version. The central symbolic elements of the Quest were highlighted, and, from the vantage point of the Palace, the Squires had no difficulty in identifying some of them in the surrounding forest park beneath, where King D. Ferdinand II, creator of the romantic fantasy that is the Pena Palace and its gardens, had them placed. The restoration works to which the building is being subjected, prevented some architectural elements to be analyzed, but the visit to the Chapel of Our Lady of Pena and particularly the study of its stained glass windows and altar had its rewards.
After visiting the Palace inside and out, it was then time to start exploring the gardens. The group was led hiking to the highest point of the Sintra mountain, Cruz Alta, 529m in height, featuring a magnificent view of the Palace and the estuary of the Tagus river and the sea to the right, the Atlantic opening from where the Caravels of Vasco da Gama departed and later arrived after having reached India by sea, going around Africa, a historical event of transcendent importance for the Order of Christ.
Returning to the Forest, Knights, Dames, and Squires (and guests) gathered around the Round Table and recalled the legend which tells how Parsifal has himself become aware of chivalry and how he was amazed. Seeing shining armor, spears, swords and capes waving with the wind, he could only to ask the Knight he saw in the forest: “Are you God?” and when he said no, counter: “You are an angel, then”?
Visto o Palácio em si, por dentro e por fora, foi então ocasião de iniciar a exploração dos jardins. O grupo foi em caminhada conduzido ao ponto mais alto da Serra de Sintra, a Cruz Alta a 529m, de altura, com uma vista magnífica sobre o Palácio e sobre o estuário do rio Tejo e o mar à direita, abertura atlântica de onde partiram e onde chegaram as Caravelas de Vasco da Gama.
The clock was moving ant the time becoming short for the many things that had to be taught. So the Squires were conducted on a mission to collect information to the Temple of Columns, nearby. Nothing was said about the place beforehand, except that they should undergo rigorous observation and take note of the elements that called their attention. The group gathered again around the Table later and it was revealed that their intuition was indeed alert. Several of them had brought their cameras, with which they gathered the testimony of their observation. In fact, more than two thirds of the key symbolic elements had been identified, and after considering their signifficance, the vast majority of Squires came up with very exceptional results in their explanations.
After leaving that magical place, the group went further into the forest, abandoning the easy paved road recommended for tourists. After passing by caves where ancient monks of St. Jerome (SJ) had the habit to use to meditate for long periods, found the remains of the tracks in the woods and very old staircases, through narrow ways, and then, between two high cliffs, were led to the contemplation of the Palace as seen from the Throne, a lithic cluster of central importance in the whole Pena forest park. The pilgrims rested. But for a short while only. Then they went back to the dark forest.
In search of fresh water, springing from the Sierra, the group could see how the aquifers and streams were build up, how the mines and ornamental lakes match, catching the most subtle essence of life in the Sierra and its valleys, making everything bloom and fruit, as the water snakes around the cliffs, feeding freshness and light to the deep valleys long its way. In the background, the cry of the white swans evoked the Knights of the Round Table and the lakes where Amfortas, the Fisher King, used to bathe and heal his wounds.
The group withdrew from the Park well beyond the scheduled time (the gates were already closed and it was necessary to ask for security to come and open the door for the group to leave the park!). Tired but happy and thankful for the opportunity, with the mind racing with new questions and thoughs, the group returned home.
On behalf of all the Knights and Dames of the Order, we congratulate the Squires for the qualities shown along this day of pilgrimage. Good things are expected of them. The instructions will continue in July with a visit to the Capuchin Convent in Sintra, under the theme of the Monastic Way.
Em busca da fresca água da Serra o grupo pôde ver o modo intencional e muito sábio como as correntes aquíferas e o jogo entre minas e lagos decorativos, captavam a essência mais subtil da vida na Serra e como, pelos seus vales, tudo faziam florir e frutificar, serpenteando pelas fragas, alimentando de frescura e luz os vales profundos. Ao fundo, os cisnes brancos evocavam os Cavaleiros da Távola Redonda e os lagos onde Amfortas, o Rei Pescador, se banhava e onde curava as suas feridas.
O grupo retirou-se do Parque já muito para lá da hora prevista (os portões já estavam fechados e foi necessário pedir que a segurança viesse abrir as portas para sair do Parque!), cansado, mas feliz com a oportunidade e com a cabeça a colocar-se questões sobre a Cavalaria viva e actuante nos tempos modernos como possivelmente não se teria colocado antes.
Em nome de todos os Cavaleiros e Damas da Ordem, devemos enaltecer as qualidades demosntradas ao longo da peregrinação do dia pelos Escudeiros presentes. Boas coisas se esperam deles. As instruções irão prosseguir em Julho, com uma visita ao Convento dos Capuchos em Sintra, sob a temática da Via Monástica.
Alguns links para conhecer a Pena: