Solemn Dubbing Ceremony took place under the Commandery of Sintra, Portugal

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New Knights and Dames were dubbed this past weekend in the Commandery of Sintra of the Priory of Iberia (OSMTHU) in Portugal. We wish to congratulate them all, welcoming them in a brotherhood of service, spirituality and pursuit of knowledge. Let there be known their names: Dame Anabela Melão, DTJ; Dame Ana Tavares de Mello, DTJ; Dame Susana Ferreira, DTJ; Dame Isabel Passos, DTJ; Knight Bruno Judas, KTJ; Knight Michel Rodrigues, KTJ; Knight Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ; Knight Paulo Valente, KTJ; Knight Rui Herdadinha, Knight Vitor Barata, KTJ and Knight Vitorino Batalim, KTJ.

The Priori of Iberia and the Magisterial Council wish to congratulate the new Knights and Dames, hoping that they will find a meaningful pathway for their spiritual quest in this new stage of their lives, in the certainty that they can now see Chivalry as a living force, instead of dead letters in the pages of a dusty old book.

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The Ceremony

As the sun was setting in the distant horizon of the Roca Cape, the westernmost extent of mainland in continental Europe, the very place where land abruptly ends and the vast ocean begins, the Squires contemplated how the light of the world cyclically hides and how fragile the last few rays seem to be, distant from the mighty golden shine of noon. Soon darkness covered the land. It was time to return to the safety of the Commandery.

A light meal followed. Right after that all were called to the Chapter Room for the last instructions and examination before the Vigil. The Prior General read from some of the main traditional text  sources, exploring a few of the most basic and central themes that should be considered before undertaking the Vigil and join the Order. All Squires were examined.

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The Vigil started after the darkest hour of night. The Latin Rule of the Order of the Temple was read. Then the Apocalypse and the Gospel of Marc were read aloud in its entirety by the group of Squires, taking turns. Each was taken individually to a private room, for spiritual consolamentum.

Just before dawn, the Squires were taken to open field, near the ocean again, to testify of the return of the light. Like John, they were able to testify that the light returns in its full glory and that all the land and the creatures of the earth and sky rejoice in its presence. Soon the almighty Sun was shining in full force, casting away morning fog and every dark shadow.

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It was turn to go to the Chapel. There, the Chapter work was resumed. The ritual was performed in the strict observance of its rules and all Squires were dubbed, Knight and Dame they were dubbed. The Eucharist was celebrated by the Apostolic Prefect of the Priory and all Brothers and Sisters sat at the holy table of bread and wine, body and soul of the Lord.

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In this joyous occasion three new Commanders were sworn, with three Commanderies created. Knight Olivier de Brito, KCTJ became the Commander of Arrabida; Dame Ana Brum, DCTJ became Commander of Lisbon – Sant’Ana Hill and Knight Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ became Commander of Lisbon- Sain Vicent Hill.

They all departed after noon, rejoining their families and their secular life, carrying in their hearts the living presence of what they had just lived.

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Note: It should be noted that Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, reported as Commander of Lisbon, hasn’t been a member of the Order since December 13, 2014. The recent criminal cahrges faced by Paulo Pereira Crisóvão pertain only to his private life and do not commit the Order or its members in any way. The Order regrets to have been misslead for his previous clean criminal record and will duly add his name, according to statutes, to the public record of those revoked from the Order.

Cerimónia Solene de Armação teve lugar na Comendadoria de Sintra, Portugal

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Novos Cavaleiros e Damas foram armados este fim de semana na Comendadoria de Sintra do Priorado Ibérico (OSMTHU), em Portugal. Damos os parabéns a todos, acolhendo-os numa fraternidade de serviço, espiritualidade e busca pelo conhecimento. Que os seus nomes sejam conhecidos: Dama Anabela Melão, DTJ; Dama Ana Tavares de Mello, DTJ; Dama Susana Ferreira, DTJ; Dama Isabel Passos, DTJ; Cavaleiro Bruno Judas, KTJ; Cavaleiro Michel Rodrigues, KTJ; Cavaleiro Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ; Cavaleiro Paulo Valente, KTJ; Cavaleiro Rui Herdadinha, Cavaleiro Vitor Barata, KTJ e Cavaleiro Vitorino Batalim, KTJ.

O Priorado Ibérico e o Conselho Magistral dão os parabéns aos novos Cavaleiros e Damas, desejando que todos eles encontrem um caminho para a sua demanda espiritual neste novo estágio nas suas vidas, na certeza de que podem agora ver a Cavalaria como uma força viva e não letra morta nas páginas de livros cheios de pó.

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A Cerimónia

O sol já se punha no horizonte distante do Cabo da Roca, o ponto mais ocidental da Europa continental, o lugar onde a terra acaba e o mar começa, quando os Escudeiros contemplavam como a luz do mundo se esconde ciclicamente e como os seus últimos raios parecem ser frágeis, distantes que estão do fulgor do brilho do meio-dia. Depressa a escuridão cobriu a terra. Era hora de voltar à segurança da Comendadoria.

Seguiu-se uma refeição ligeira. Logo de seguida todos foram chamados à Sala do Capítulo para as últimas instruções e exame antes da Vigília. O Prior Geral leu passagens dos principais texto de fonte tradicional, explorando alguns dos temas mais básicos e centrais que devem ser considerados antes de iniciar uma Vigília e juntar-se à Ordem. Todos os Escudeiros foram examinados.

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A Vigília começou depois da hora mais negra da noite. A Regra Latina da Ordem do Templo foi lida. Depois, à vez tomando turnos, todos os Escudeiros leram em voz alta todo o Livro do Apocalipse e o Evangelho de Marcos. Cada um foi levado individualmente a uma sala provada, para consolamentum espiritual.

Pouco antes da madrugada, os Escudeiros foram levados a campo aberto, junto ao mar de novo, para testemunhar o regresso da luz. Tal como João, foram testemunhas de que a luz regressa na sua glória plena e que todas as criaturas da terra e dos céus rejubilam na sua presença. Bem depressa o sol todo poderoso brilhava na sua força imparável, afastando o nevoeiro da manhã e todas as sombras negras da noite.

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Era já tempo de recolher à Capela. Ali o trabalho de Capítulo foi retomado. O ritual foi executado na mais estrita observância da regra e todos os Escudeiros foram armados, Cavaleiros e Damas foram armados. A Eucaristia foi celebrada pelo Prefeito Apostólico do Priorado e todos os Irmãos e Irmãs se sentaram à mesa fraternal do pão e do vinho, do corpo e espírito do Senhor.

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Nesta feliz ocasião três novos Comendadores fizeram o seu juramento com a criação de três Comendadorias. O Cavaleiro Olivier de Brito, KCTJ é agora Comendador da Arrábida; a Dama Ana Brum, DCTJ é agora Comendadora de Lisboa – Colina de Sant’Ana e o Cavaleiro Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ é agora o Comendador de Lisboa – Colina de São Vicente.

Todos partiram depois do meio dia, de volta a suas casas para junto das suas famílias e de regresso às suas vidas seculares, carregando nos seus corações a presença viva do que tinham acabado de viver.

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Nota: Deverá ser notado que Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, aqui citado como Comendador de Lisboa, não é membro da Ordem desde 13 de Dezembro de 2014. As recentes acusações criminais que enfrenta dizem respeito apenas à sua vida privada e não envolvem a Ordem ou os seus membros. A Ordem lamenta ter sido induzida em erro pelo seu Registo Criminal limpo e irá aduzir o seu nome, de acordo com os estatutos, à lista pública daqueles que foram erradicados da Ordem.

Remembering the Less Fortunate the 13 of October

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Photo: Gare do Oriente, the main transport hub of Lisbon, Portugal. Designed by Arch. Santiago Calatrava

This 13 of October, the OSMTHU in Portugal remembered the martyrdom of the Templars by helping the less fortunate.

In the last few weeks a spontaneous movement gained momentum: A Few Hours Dedicated to Your Fellow Man. With the help and involvement of members of the Order, a growing group of anonymous people and most recently local celebrities, started gathering every Monday night in Lisbon’s iconic Gare do Oriente, the well known railway station designed by renowned Architect Santiago Calatrava for the 1998 World Expo and now the main transportation hub of the capital city. The railway/bus/underground station is sought after by homeless people that choose the architectural marvel to spend their night with a roof over their heads. And they are dozens. And dozens. Of all ages and backgrounds. Since the worldwide crisis reached Portugal and the national government was forced to ask for help from the IMF, the European Bank and the European Union, unemployment has risen to unheard-of numbers and salaries plummeted to a level where some people, although they still work, can’t make their ends meet for them and their families. All sorts of welfare support and pensions were cut down, leaving the most fragile in Portugal in a situation close to the most abject poverty, stripped of their livelihood and dignity.

This last 13 of October, instead of a gala dinner event, a nice ceremony or a simple prayer, the Templars of Portugal decided to honor those fallen in France in 1307 by remembering those falling close to us who do not have the benefit to have access to a simple bed or the most basic food. This 13 of October we gave our time to help others.

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It was with a great sense of humility and compassion that the Portuguese Knights, Dames and Squires came to the Gare do Oriente, bringing food, first-need goods such as blankets, clothing, soap and hygiene products, and sat down with homeless men and women at a long table specially prepared in a local restaurant. They sat, they ate, they talked and heard firsthand the stories and misfortunes that seem to befall more and more people around them. Nobody dressed in regalia. There wasn’t even a Templar cross to be seen. Nobody tried to convert anyone else to a religion or way of thinking. They were all equals at the table and for a couple of hours the dream of a life without inequality was lived at that table.

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What better lesson could we teach our Squires that are ready to become more fully committed with the Order’s values and duties?

Well, if you want to know, join us in Lisbon next Monday. Every Monday.

Luis de Matos
Prior General, Portugal
OSMTHU

 

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Dia de São Miguel

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Raffaello Sanzio - Tutt'Art@ - (46)

Hoje foi dia de São Miguel. O Arcanjo que encabeça as milícias celestes. O que eleva a espada ao céu e traz a justiça aos injustiçados. O que não dá tréguas às criaturas dos abismos nem paz aos senhores da guerra. Lâmina afiada, corta a direito. Desfaz a escamosa goela num golpe, esventra a peçonha, rompe a perfídia em farrapos finos. Não é mandado por Deus à cabeceira do doente para lhe dar força e confortar. Não canta no coro das esferas celestiais. Não traz novas de vida com o lírio na mão. Não sopra ao ouvido cândidas palavras. Não guarda do infortúnio. Não dá a mão ao débil. Não. Deus não o fez Senhor das Milícias para que fosse admirado, mas para que fosse temido. Não para que deslumbrasse em halo radiante, mas para espavorir os adversários da luz. Não é um anjinho de peanha. Não é uma cara fofa da renascença. Não agarra as saias da Virgem. É o medo na sua mais pura forma. O medo imparável do férreo castigo que tem por lei a lâmina, para quem tem por anima não ter lei. É o dia do fim dos que roubam na noite. É o tormento dos que atormentam. O suplício dos perversos. O carrasco dos assassinos. Algoz dos tiranos. Verdugo dos opressores. É a lei em forma de espada flamígera e fatal. Espada em brasa, rubor de lume e dor, golpe desferido do alto, certeiro, imparável e preciso como um diamante cortante.

Dia de São Miguel. Da milícia de justiça. Vértice celeste da Cavalaria terrestre. Protege-nos, nosso chefe arquiangélico. Tu, que ouviste o nosso humilde murmúrio nos corredores do Templo: ao Teu nome dá glória. Ao teu nome dá glória. Ao teu nome dá glória; e respondeste no teu silêncio sereno: Quis ut Deus?

Luis de Matos

Prior, Osmthu Portugal

Ruins tell a story which can be traced to Jerusalem

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The ruins of Chibburn Preceptory stand about a mile from Widdrington Village. It was a house of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and stood in its own agricultural estate. It was, in other words, a manor. The head of such a house was called the preceptor, hence preceptory.

The Order of St John was also known as the Knights Hospitaller. Being a military order, they later adopted the title of commander for the heads of houses so Low Chibburn is sometimes referred to as Chibburn Commandery, but they both mean the same thing, the lowest level of territorial responsibility within the Order.

The Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was founded in 1113 by a man called Gerard, about whom little else is known. It had probably existed for some time previously, but 1113 is when it was formally established under papal authority. Its object was to care for the poor and strangers, and since this was Jerusalem the strangers would most likely be pilgrims.

There were older hospitals in Jerusalem, even as far back as the 7th century. But Gerard’s was so much appreciated by the pilgrims and crusaders that they rewarded him with estates, at that time mostly in Palestine and southern Europe. Gerard died in 1118 and was followed by Raymond of Provence.

Raymond was a warrior aristocrat. He re-founded the Order, built a larger hospital and added the care of the sick. He also provided armed escorts to pilgrims going to and from Jerusalem, and it was he who first took the title of Grand Master.

Full members of the Order were monks, bound by lifetime vows. There were three classes: Military brothers, brothers chaplain and brothers infirmarer. The military brothers were knights, i.e. heavy cavalry. The chaplains were priests. Their main duty was to celebrate the Mass and perform the other services of the church. The infirmarers looked after the inmates.

There were also extern knights, who fought alongside the military brothers, but only served for a limited time, and there were turcopoles. The turcopoles were a light cavalry, recruited from men born in Palestine of mixed parentage and equipped in the Turkish fashion.

The Hospitallers’ charitable work never stopped, but the military role soon took first place. Along with the Knights Templar, they defended the Kingdom of Jerusalem against the Saracens, but for all practical purposes they were expelled from the Holy Land in 1291 with the fall of Acre.

They set up instead on the island of Rhodes, and later at Malta, and turned to the suppression of piracy and the protection of Christian pilgrims and trade routes throughout the Mediterranean.

AT their height, the Knights Hospitaller were organised into eight ‘tongues’, or nations, each tongue into priories and each priory into preceptories. The main purpose of having preceptories was to raise money for the Order’s work in the Holy Land, or later in the Mediterranean at large.

According to a 13th Century writer, the hospitallers had 19,000 properties scattered across Europe. As there were only 656 preceptories, this suggests that each preceptory was responsible on average for about 30 lesser properties.

An information panel at Low Chibburn says that the estate ‘was given to the Order in 1313’. This is not correct. It was already in existence. William Woodman, writing in the Archaeological Journal for 1860, says that Chibburn is first mentioned in a return made by Bishop Kellawe of Durham in that year, following the suppression of the Knights Templar in 1312.

“‘In the archdeaconry of Northumberland, the Hospitallers have the house of Chibburn (domus de Chipburn) which, with the small things thereunto pertaining, (cum minutis ad eam pertintentibus) is usually estimated at ten pounds per annum.

“At this time,” says Woodman, “when the Hospitalers had not acquired the lands of the Templars, it appears that Chibburn belonged to the Knights of St John, therefore it must have been originally granted to them.

“No evidence has been found to show at what period or by whom the establishment was originally founded, possibly by the Fitzwilliams, the tenants in capite under the crown, or by the Widdringtons, who held under them in the 12th century.”

He thought the Widdringtons more likely because: “Immediately over the arch of the south doorway (i.e. of the chapel) there are two escutcheons … nearly obliterated, but traces of a cross patée, doubtless for the Knights of St John, may be seen on one, and a quarterly coat on the other. It is not improbable that this may have been the coat of Widdrington, an ancient family in the neighbourhood.”

WE have copious information from a survey of all Hospitaller properties in England in 1338. It was discovered in Malta in about 1830, hidden in a walled-up cavity in a house belonging to the Order.

The community consisted of a Preceptor, a brother chaplain, and a third brother, who was presumably the infirmarer. They also had a stipendiary chaplain, a chamberlain, head stableman, stable boy, steward (farm bailiff), a laundress, a clerk who acted as a collector, and a pensioner who got 20 shillings ayear for life.

Some of these would have been married men, and there would also have been peasant families on the estate, so the total population of Low Chibburn would perhaps be as many as 50 or 60 people.

Income was £23 18s. 8d., and outgoings £17 13s. 4d. Woodman analyses both in detail. The income was severely affected by the war with Scotland. The manor house was ruinous, and the balance available to send to the headquarters at Clerkenwell was less than ten pounds.

There is no direct evidence of Chibburn managing other properties in Northumberland, but Hodgson, in the chapter on Woodhorn in his History of Northumberland, says that in 1294 the prior of the hospital of St John of Jerusalem claimed certain privileges (for example, exemption from tithes) in respect of lands that he held in Ulgham, ‘Wetewirth’, Seton, Newbiggin, Ellington and elsewhere.

It seems unlikely that the prior would have made this claim personally so it must have been made by someone acting on his behalf. But whether this was the preceptor of Chibburn or somebody else, we do not know.

Henry VIII suppressed the Order in 1540. Woodman records that, ten years later, the Ministers in the Augmentation Office held Hospitaller lands at Ulgham, North Seaton, Newbiggin, Ellington, Felton, Chevington, and Morwick.

They do not say that they had been under the control of Chibburn — indeed, all of the Northumberland estates, including Chibburn and Temple Thornton, are described as parcels of the Preceptory of Mount St John in Yorkshire, but it seems likely that they were.

Soon after this, the Widdringtons of Widdrington Castle bought the preceptory from the crown. They demolished everything except the chapel (if it hadn’t all fallen down already) and built a dower house for the dowager ladies or other landless members of the family.

What remains today is mainly the ruins of the house and the medieval chapel.

in Morpeth Herald

New book Secret Symbols about West Wycombe Caves released

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A PUB landlord has completed ‘a kind of Da Vinci Code journey’ through the notorious Hell Fire Caves – and written a book to dispel some of the myths surrounding the West Wycombe tourist attraction.

Eamonn Loughran, 42, has published ‘Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club’ after living for 20 years on West Wycombe Road and looking up at the Dashwood Mausoleum every day.

He says the much-published ‘history’ of the Hell Fire Club adds up to little more than gossip, adding: “The idea that Sir Francis Dashwood dug these caves simply to get drunk and worship the devil is absolute rubbish.

“There were a lot of very bad books written about the club from early 1900s onwards, mostly by journalists who sensationalised the stories.”

Rumours of black magic, satanic rituals and orgies surrounded Dashwood’s club when it was around in the 1750s and 60s.

But after years of research Mr Loughran has found that though many of these activities undoubtedly went on, the ideas behind the caves are much more intricate and complex than might appear.

The father-of-three got interested in the Dashwood estate when he met a researcher who was collecting voice recordings from farm workers and people speaking in the old Buckinghamshire dialect.

His ‘ears pricked up’ when he heard some of the voices tell of local ghost stories and he began to collect his own oral evidence of local legends and folklore.

He ended up meeting descendants of illegitimate children born of amorous liaisons in the caves, as well as existing members of Hell Fire Chapters in the UK and abroad. He now lives in Lincolnshire and has since become a member of one of the Chapters.

Mr Loughran is critical of the way the Hell Fire Caves are full of “tourist kitsch” and leave visitors with “quite a negative response”.

He said: “I know they do a good trade with things like kids’ parties, but there are no ghosts down there and it’s a bit of a shame that people are going to what’s quite a beautiful and mythological place and treating it like some kind of Halloween experience.

“The caves are really a very important monument and should, like the tunnels inside the Egyptian pyramids, be studies in depth.

“To enter them with no more information than is found in a ‘tourist attraction’ would be like treating Westminster Abbey as somewhere that’s merely scary and Gothic.”

He says the caves, along with the church and mausoleum, are full of intricate symbolism, science and philosophy and are a ‘testament to a man’s love of liberty and freedom’. He added: “We need to look very closely at what this actually is”.

His book examines the astronomical positions of the caves’ entrances – “a little bit like you would with Stone Henge”, while indicating the possible existence of Knights Templar cosmology deep underground at West Wycombe.

He promises a look at the “most notorious of secret societies from the inside” and details rare information deriving from Sir Francis Dashwood’s intellectually brilliant daughter Rachel Frances Antonina (‘The Infidel’), who knew the poet Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey. There is also a focus on a 1940’s ‘Phoenix Nest’ occult group which met at West Wycombe and whose members published books on esoteric subjects up to the 1970’s.

Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club is available in hardback on http://www.amazon.co.uk for £22.

by Bucks Free Press

Anyone seen an abbey around here?

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ARCHAEOLOGISTS turned up in force to examine the history of Bisham Abbey last month.

About 20 enthusiasts were told of the little-known fact that the existing building once home to the Knights Templar is actually a manor house as opposed to an abbey.

However, as John Laker, of Archaeology In Marlow, insists: “The house is still of immense interest, with parts of it dating back over 800 years.”

The tour was led by historian Anne Daracott, of Maidenhead, an expert on Bisham Abbey.

The house has had a number of famous inhabitants, including the Knights Templar, and remained in the ownership of the Earl of Salisbury’s family for a number of generations.

The building was even used as a jail for dignitaries such as Elizabeth I who was imprisoned there by Queen Mary.

The original hall of the Knights Templar is still in existence, as is one of the most impressive dovecots in the country dating to the 16th Century.

Remains of the original abbey, which was thought to be attached to the house, have not been discovered.

in Bucks Free Press