Templars

Tomar – Portugal’s Knights Templar Town

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Tomar is a historically outstanding town in the Ribatejo region of central Portugal. Straddling the banks of the River Nabão, Tomar has narrow cobbled streets and a whole host of appealing buildings. It is also home to one of the most important architectural and religious monuments in the country – the Convento de Cristo, former headquarters of the Knights Templar. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magnificent monastery and its associated castle sit in a commanding position on a wooded hill overlooking the town.

The Knights Templar was an elite fighting force and semi-religious order that was founded in 1119, during the Crusades. Under the guidance of Gualdim Pais, the visionary Grand Master of the Portuguese Knights, the order began construction of a castle on the hill overlooking Tomar around 1160. The design of the castle’s famous ‘rotunda’ church was inspired by similar structures in Jerusalem. Each knight took a vow of poverty and chastity and wore a white coat emblazoned with a red cross. Over the years, the Templars spread across Europe, gaining extraordinary wealth in the process – and also many powerful enemies!

By the early 1300s, amid accusations of heresy, the order was finally suppressed. However, in Portugal, the Templars re-emerged again in 1320, reincarnated as the ‘Order of Christ’, but now under the control of the throne. It was thanks to the wealth of this new order that Prince Henry the Navigator (who was Grand Master from 1417-1460) was able to fund Portugal’s legendary maritime voyages. The order’s proud symbol – the Cross of Christ – became the distinguished banner for the country’s great age of exploration and discovery. From the 13th to the 17th century, the Convento de Cristo underwent continuous expansion to become the superb monument it is today.

We entered the castle grounds through the main gate and stopped to admire the outside of the circular 12th century church. After entering the monastery, we realised that there was a surprise around every corner. We counted eight cloisters, the largest of which is regarded as a renaissance masterpiece. There are charming terraces with great views over the countryside, an infirmary, a pharmacy and some gloomy monks’ living quarters.

The interior of the beautiful round church, known as the charola, is the chief attraction. The aisle is circular with a high altar enclosed within a central octagon, and the surrounding walls are decorated with murals of sacred art from the 16th century. This was the knights’ private oratorium and they attended services here whilst seated on horseback!

Just outside the church, the tiny Santa Bárbara cloister has a grandstand view of the chapter house’s amazing ornate Manueline window. This bizarre masterpiece is structured around two carvings of ships’ masts, adorned with knots, cork, coral and seaweed. Although covered in lichen and clearly in need of renovation, these somber blemishes just add to the window’s extraordinary appeal.

A secure supply of water to the complex was provided in the early 17th century by means of a six-kilometre aqueduct. This supreme engineering structure is most impressive where it crosses the steep Vale da Ribeira dos Pegões just outside Tomar. It has two magnificent 30m high tiers of arches and there is a tempting high-level walkway along the top of the conduit – but a painful drop should you stumble and fall!

The ordinary town residents have always been able to enjoy a plentiful water supply from the River Nabão itself.

From Roman times onwards, waterpower was used to drive mills, oil-presses and water wheels for irrigation and industry. The Roda do Nabão is a modern and much-admired water wheel located next to the town’s lovely central Parque de Mouchão. Constructed of pinewood, it is a perfect example of how the force of the River Nabão was used for local economic benefit.

Tomar has many other noteworthy attractions and we began our exploration on the east side of the river at the Santa Maria do Olival, a simple church dating from the 12th century and home to many Templar tombs, notably Gualdim Pais, the Grand Master himself. Plain on the outside and plain on the inside, this is a church with considerable charm and overlooked by most visitors.

Crossing the river using the scenic ‘Old Bridge’ and turning left, we found the Match Box Museum in a shady courtyard of the Convento de São Francisco. It has a mind-boggling collection of 43,000 matchboxes from 120 countries displayed like colourful tapestries.

The medieval heart of Tomar lies nearby and we wandered through its cobbled lanes to visit Portugal’s oldest surviving medieval synagogue. Many Portuguese have Jewish ancestry and Tomar was once the home of a thriving Jewish community. This 15th century Hebrew temple has variously been used as a prison, a hayloft and a grocery warehouse during its long history, but has now been splendidly renovated and is home to an interesting small museum. There are strange upturned earthenware jars set high in its walls to improve acoustics!

The spacious Praça da República, surrounded by attractive 17th century buildings is at the very heart of the old town, and overlooked by the lovely Igreja de São João Baptista. The church has an octagonal spire and two superbly ornamental Manueline doorways. The handsome city hall lies directly opposite and between the two, in a befitting place in the middle of the square, stands an imposing statue of the city’s illustrious founder, Gualdim Pais.

Every four years, the square becomes the centre of activities for Tomar’s most famous cultural event – the Festa dos Tabuleiros. This ancient celebration, associated with the Feast of the Holy Spirit, is actually thought to have its roots in earlier pagan fertility rites. Its highlight is a procession of hundreds of local girls (traditionally virgins) carrying tall ‘tabuleiros’ on their heads. These unusual headdresses are built from loaves of bread, decorated with flowers, and have a white dove at the top to symbolize the Holy Spirit. A local boy helps each girl to support her enormous ‘hat’ as it can weigh up to 15kg. However, these male attendants are not apparently required to be virgins!

One wonders exactly what Gualdim Pais would think about modern Tomar if he were alive today – international tour groups tramping through his beautiful church and young ladies walking the streets with stacks of loaves on their heads? However, he and his fellow Templar Knights would no doubt have been very happy to collect the considerable tourist income for their charitable coffers!

by Nigel Wright in portugalresident.com

II International Conference Confirmed for October 2020

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In a meeting in Almourol / Vila Nova da Barquinha this week, the local municipality confirmed the final dates for the II Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism”. Taking place at the Templar Interpretation Center (CITA) in Almourol , Portugal, the International Conference follows the groundbreaking event that joined together in Barquinha experts from all over the world and different branches of the Order in October 2019.

The current COVID19 pandemic has severely disrupted traveling plans and large events. Because of that, it was decided that the Conference will have an opening session on October 13 for a limited number of invited guests, when a new exhibition will be inaugurated in the Interpretation Center, followed the 17 and 18 of October by a mixed online and live event from the auditorium in Barquinha, Portugal.

The full Program will be available soon. If you are interested in attending online (free), please send us an email to conference@templarcorps.org or stay in touch with these pages.

Templar Corps International is launched on Pentecost day 2020

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Amidst the impactful effects of the COVID19 pandemic, that prevents all international meetings, the OSMTHU has launched the Templar Corps Platform (templarcorps.org). The initiative has been in development ever since Master Antonio Paris resumed his term in office in 2018, as a technological tool to support international Templar cooperation in real world projects.

Under the motto “Ethics and Service for a new century”, the Templar Corps International (TCI) is a group of men and women with a Templar background, organized locally in units spread across the world, ready to put their energy, passion and intelligence at the service of mankind. Members come from a wide range of Templar Orders in over 20 countries, whose membership to a Templar structure is acknowledged and equivalent rank given. A significant number of members have come to the Templar Corps with no previous Templar connection of any kind – which is not required.

Unlike a traditional Order, vertical and highly hierarchical in nature, the Templar Corps International is an horizontal organization, managed as a network of highly motivated individuals run through nodes that roughly correspond to regional hubs.

These hubs run local projects, cooperate with projects run by other hubs and materialize in the real world, with real people, and real work, the conceptual aims of Spiritual Chivalry as inspired by the Order of the Temple and other traditional spiritual and historical sources.

These projects cover a wide range of traditional areas of interest, all with a Templar focus:

  • Charity, international aid and disaster relief
  • Historical research and publishing, scholarship, learning
  • Traditional crafts, professions and industries, including swordsmith, pottery, wood carving, …
  • Traditional arts, painting, sculpture, music, theater, literature, …
  • Farming, hospitality, pilgrimage support and aid, …
  • Ethical business, trading and technology
  • Entertainment, documentaries, film, digital media, …
  • Tourism, guided tours, spiritual retreats, …
  • Leadership training, self-improvement programs, advisory, …
  • Intellectual Property creation and management, …

A list of supported and affiliated local Projects is available. It includes humanitarian work in Europe, South America and Africa. A Global Forum event is held online monthly, where leading specialists discuss some of the most important issues related to the service Corps.

The Templar Globe welcomes the Templar Corps International to the Templar family of websites. We will be bringing to our readers the latest Corps announcements, events and news.

More information: templarcorps.org

Estremoz – Alentejo’s Historic White City

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An appetising aroma of sheep’s cheese and smoked chorizo sausages wafted through the stalls of Estremoz’s famous Saturday market. This weekly extravaganza shows off the best of the Alentejo’s local produce, including olives, chutneys, honey, fruit, vegetables and colourful ceramics. It is also home to a superb ‘flea market’ with stalls offering everything from coin collections to cowbells! The market is held in the Rossio Marquês de Pombal, a vast square at the town’s centre.

Estremoz exudes a real feeling of elegance and wealth, because high-grade white marble has been extensively used in the construction of its churches, civic buildings, streets and squares. So plentiful is the availability of top quality marble from the many quarries in this part of the Alentejo, that Estremoz and the nearby towns of Borba and Vila Viçosa have even used it for the doorsteps of their humblest cottages.

Unseasonal rain and a chill wind cut short our perusal of the flea market so we scuttled away to visit another of Estremoz’s attractions, the celebrated Café Águias d’Ouro (Golden Eagles Café). Built early in the 20th century, this art nouveau coffee house has long been famed for political debate, so we were not surprised to be surrounded by men emotionally discussing the weighty matters of local politics. Here was a café with just the kind of atmosphere one reads about in Portuguese literature.

Next to the Rossio, there is a peaceful municipal garden and the picturesque Lago do Gadanha (Lake of the Scythe), named after its central scythe-wielding statue. Nearby are a couple of splendid churches – the Igreja de São Francisco and the Convento dos Congregados, the latter of which is also home to a museum of sacred art.

As the rain turned even heavier, we decided to cross the square to visit one of Portugal’s national monuments, the Convento das Maltesas. This historic building, once a hospital, has a charming cloister at its centre and houses Estremoz’s ‘Live Science Centre’ (Centro de Ciência Viva). It is a very impressive interactive and educational science museum, where children of all ages can learn about the wonders of our planet. Perfect for stimulating scientific curiosity!

The old city of Estremoz

The ‘Cidade Velha’ (old city), with its palace and castle, stands defiantly on top of the hill overlooking the new town far below. It is reached by following a labyrinth of narrow winding streets and through two sets of impressive medieval walls, the construction of which began in 1261. Estremoz Castle is the town’s classic landmark, built during the 13th century as a defensive fortress. Within this fortification, King Dinis later built a palace where he lived with his wife Isabel of Aragon. Queen Isabel was famously generous to the poor and gained the status of a saint amongst the local population. She even has a tasty almond-flavoured cake, the ‘Bolo Rainha Santa’, in her name.

The castle has an imposing 27m high tower made from white marble, and the palace next door has been converted into a luxurious Pousada. This majestic hotel was our comfortable home during our time in Estremoz and boasts two magnificent lounges and a stately dining room, all containing a fantastic array of period Portuguese furniture. The top of the tower is reached by access through the Pousada and has a wide-ranging view of the Alentejo landscape. There is a chapel to the saintly Queen Isabel behind the palace and her own skillfully carved statue stands in the square close to the base of the tower. However, she does look rather glum!

This same square also gives access to the Igreja de Santa Maria, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, and the fascinating Museu Municipal. Built in the Manueline style, the lovely Santa Maria church has tombstones emblazoned with coats-of-arms of many notable Portuguese families.

The museum has an eclectic display of Alentejana objects on show, from exquisitely carved figures in wood and cork depicting rural activities, to rooms depicting local life in the 19th century. But it is the colourful ‘Bonecos de Estremoz’ that catch the eye! Literally translated as ‘Dolls of Estremoz’, there are 500 of these colourfully-painted figurines made from clay. This original folk art is more than three centuries old and in 2017 was classified by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

We discovered that the restaurant A Cadeia Quinhentista (Old 16th Century Gaol), just behind the Santa Maria Church, had some great examples of the best of Alentejana cuisine. Its menu was stacked with interesting local dishes – from ‘Pézinhos de Coentrada’ (pork’s feet with coriander) to the famous dessert ‘Sericaia’ (egg pudding served with cinnamon and plum syrup).

Elvas and Evoramonte

No visit to this part of the Alentejo would be complete without seeing something of Elvas and Evoramonte. Elvas is a wonderfully preserved fortress town located further east, close to the Spanish border, and justifiably popular with military historians. It was the first line of defence against Spanish invasion and its walls were designed so that no side was left unprotected – resulting in a unique star arrangement of battlements.

Essential for outlasting a protracted siege was a reliable supply of clean water, and this was ensured by construction of a long and impressive aqueduct. Elvas managed to fend off three separate Spanish sieges, only falling in 1808 during the Napoleonic wars. We spent a fascinating day exploring the town’s cobbled streets, churches, the ancient castle and the impressive battlements.

Evoramonte is one of the Alentejo’s lesser-known jewels. This ancient little town to the west of Estremoz has a medieval quarter straddling a ridge 481 metres in height. A good road winds its way to the top and we parked close to its pretty church and immaculately-kept cemetery. The 16th century castle, built in the Italian renaissance style, is perched at the other end of the settlement at the highest point and offers remarkable views.

It was a joy to stroll along the one and only street, deserted on a bitterly cold day, and we just couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle of the local wine at the village gift shop. This became the final part of our simple Alentejo lunch at home the following day – delicious smoked chorizo, tangy sheep’s cheese, olives and wonderful Alentejo bread followed by a tasty ‘Bolo Rainha Santa’. Happy memories!

By Nigel Wright
|| features@algarveresident.com

Nigel Wright and his wife Sue moved to Portugal 13 years ago and live near Guia. They lived and worked in the Far East and Middle East during the 1980s and 90s, and although now retired, still continue to travel and seek out new cultural experiences. His other interests include tennis, gardening and photography.

Evoramonte’s picturesque 16th century castle

Clean water used to be supplied to Elvas by an impressive aqueduct

The colourful ‘Estremoz Bonecos’ are a form of folk art
dating back over three centuries

The castle tower is constructed from white marble

Access to the old city is via one of the medieval gates

The splendid Convento dos Congregados is also home to the museum of sacred art

Estremoz Castle and Pousada are nicely seen from the picturesque Lago de Gadanha

Colourful Alentejo ceramics were on sale

The aroma of chorizo wafted through the market

The delights of the Duero River Valley

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There is a part of Spain, within a day’s drive of the Algarve, that you may have never heard of, let alone visited. If I’m right, you have been missing something interesting.

I’m talking about the Duero River valley. If you have driven north through Spain, heading for France or Britain, you have almost certainly driven from Salamanca through Valladolid and on to Burgos and Santander or Bilbao or France. You have driven right across the Duero River just south of Valladolid in the small town of Tordesillas.

The Duero River rises near Soria and runs from east to west through the provinces of Valladolid and Zamora before it forms the Spanish-Portuguese border for a while. When it enters Portugal, it changes its name to become the Douro and splashes on west to Porto and the Atlantic.

We all know the wonderful Douro wines – but you may not be aware of the fact that, in Spain, this river nourishes some very excellent Spanish wines, too.

There are a number of DOs (Denominación de Origen) that depend on the special climactic effects created by the Duero. The best known are the Ribera del Duero (home of Vega Sicilia, which is arguably Spain’s greatest wine) to the east of Valladolid and Rueda to the south of Tordesillas, but excellent, though lesser known, wines are also produced in the DOs of Cigales, north of Valladolid, and in Toro, Zamora and Los Arribes, all in the province of Zamora.

The red wines of Valladolid province are primarily made with the Tempranillo varietal and the whites with Verdejo or, increasingly, Sauvignon Blanc. In Zamora province, Tempranillo (here often called Tinta de Toro or Tinta del Pais) is equally as important but Garnacha and Juan Garcia are gaining in usage. Almost all the wines produced in both provinces are single varietals rather than blends and it is only in the Rueda DO that white wines are produced in quantity.

The Toro wines were so prestigious that King Alfonso IX of Léon conceded privileges for their production in the 12th century and Columbus took Toro wine on his 1492 expedition, because it could survive long journeys due to its structure and body.

A group of us recently wanted to experience the various Duero wines in situ, so we used the harvest festival in Toro (Fiesta de la Vendimia) in mid-October as our excuse to spend a week tasting wines, eating some wonderful Castillian tapas and looking at the scenery and architectural wonders of the area.

Our base was the Hotel Juan II in Toro, overlooking the Duero and right next to the magnificent collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor, a really beautiful combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that was begun in 1160.

Not far away was the impressive Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus, founded in 1307 and home to a lovely collection of religious art and a beautiful Romanesque cloisters. More interesting, from our point of view, was the beautiful alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal, only child of King Ferdinand I and, in 1383, wife and Queen Consort of King Juan I of Castille.

Our tour took us to the Los Arribes DO, a long, narrow strip of rocky slopes along the eastern banks of the Duero on the Portuguese border (the name “Arribes” derives from the Latin ad ripam, which means “on the banks of”). The terroir is so hardscrabble and dry it is amazing that any wine at all can be grown, but, in fact, we tasted some quite drinkable ones. We also had the opportunity to take a cruise in the international waters of the ”Grand Canyon” of the Arribes del Duero. It was quite spectacular.

On our way back to Toro we stopped in Zamora for a walk around the old town, a look at the cathedral built in the mid-12th century, with its graceful cupola covered with scallop tiling, and an excellent dinner in one of the province’s finest restaurants, El Rincón de Antonio, the tasting menu of which was, of course, complemented by very tasty Rueda white and Toro red wines.

The Toro Fiesta runs over four days, and, during it, the town’s population swells from just under 10,000 to about 30,000, with the influx being almost entirely Spanish tourists.

The townsfolk are dressed in medieval costume and the celebrations are capped by the Gran Torneo de Justas Medieval on Saturday afternoon in the very rustic bullring. This is an hour long pièce de theatre, by four knights-errant and their pages, of (simulated) jousting, sword play and various pranks, all played for laughs to the vast amusement of the crowd. Of course, the knight representing Castille “won”, at the expense of the insipid (and probably drunk) knight representing Portugal and the mean and ugly black knight. Cheers all around.

On a political note, our visit was just after the “referendum” vote in Catalonia, and we were struck by the vibrant nationalist spirit in evidence all around us. There were many Spanish flags displayed prominently – a practice that, until now, had been rather frowned upon as being slightly fascist. It was clear that, while the illegal vote may have been divisive vis-à-vis Catalonia, it had certainly brought the rest of Spain closer together as a nation.

Our drive back home on the Sunday (with a boot full of good Spanish wine) was about 750km, all autoroute, and covered in about six hours – leaving time for a good tapas lunch on the way. Viva España!

By Larry Hampton

The mean and ugly black knight having a sword fight with the good knight (in red) representing Castille during the Gran Torneo Medieval in Toro’s bull ring

The Toro Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj), seen looking down on some of the revellers during Toro’s harvest festival

A view of the lovely cloisters in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus in Toro

The alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus

The mid-12th century Zamora Cathedral

Ancient wine barrels in the vast cellars of the Menade winery deep underground in La Seca in Rueda

A view of the Duero River, with Portugal on the left and Spain on the right

The beautiful 12th Century Collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor in Toro

A typical display of the Spanish flag in the Plaza Mayor of Zafra

I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism in Almourol available in video (full lenght, all conferences and visits, 9h30m)

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The Municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha just released the full 9h30m of video that documents the full I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism that took place  in Almourol, Portugal in October, where the milestone Protocol of Almourol was signed.

The I Conference was the first International Event organized by the CITA (here and here), an Interpretation Center for the Order of the Temple and the Order of Christ that complements the world famous Templar Castle of Almourol.

During the Event the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ, represented respectively by Master Antonio Paris and Regent Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier,  signed a Protocol with the Municipality, declaring the CITA and Almourol as an International Place of Templar Cultural Interest. Both branches of the Order also committed to the development of the library and archive available at the CITA and the organization of three yearly Conferences where members of the Order, the academic community, researchers and the general public can come together and celebrate the Templar heritage (here).

Short clip of how the collaboration came to be:

PROGRAM OF THE I CONFERENCE

The released videos extensively document the Guided Tours and the Conferences that took place along three days in October 2019. A large part of the content is in English. The footage will be edited shortly in order to make the conferences more accessible and subtitle in English those that are only available in Portuguese.

The present uncut release is, however, very useful for all those who were not able to attend and want to have access to all the discussions and groundbreaking research presented. Reviewing the videos will also provide almple reason not to miss the II International Conference to be held in Almourol in October 2020. (more info: osmthu@mail.com)

THE VIDEOS (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

Pentecost Benedictio Militis, Arraiolos 2019

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The beautiful round castle of Arraiolos, Portugal, once held by the Order of Christ, was the centerpiece of the traditional Pentecost celebrations of the Grand Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU.

Just like the Templar Beauceant, the flag with a white field and black field, the traditional adoubement ceremony takes place in the light and in the dark. It starts during the day but soon it goes into the depthness of night, from an opened enlightened world into a closed tight womb of meditation where the future knight in silent vigil hopes for the deliverance of light. In hope and faith, the knight is delivered.

Study and Instruction time

Time to savor the fruits of fraternal friendship

Preparing for sunset – the light subsides to darkness

In darkness we work in hope of light

Great blessings come to those who wait

“Veni, Créator Spíritus,

Mentes tuórum visita,

Imple suprema grátia,

Que tu creásti, péctora.

Qui díceris Paráclitus,

Donum Dei altíssimi,

Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas

Et spiritális únctio.

Tu septifórmis múnere,

Dextrae Dei tu digitus,

Tu rite promissum Patris

Sermóne ditans gúttura.

Accénde lumen sénsibus

Infúnde amórem córdibus,

Infírma nostri córporis,

Virtúte firmans pérpeti.

Hostem repéllas lóngius

Pacémque dones prótinus;

Ductóre sic te praévio

Vitémus omne nóxium.

Per te sciámus da Patrem

Noscámus atque Filium,

Te utriúsque Spíritum

Credámus omni témpore. Amen.”

Castro Marim – Comemoração dos 700 anos da fundação da Ordem de Cristo

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Comemorar os 700 anos da Ordem de Cristo é uma alegria sem medida. Não é relembrar um momento no passado, é antes reafirmar um propósito e uma esperança no futuro.

Quero assim agradecer em meu nome, em nome da Ordem Soberana e Militar do Templo de Jerusalém Universal, como seu Chanceler internacional e Prior em Portugal, o convite da Câmara Municipal de Castro Marim – a que respondemos com entusiasmo – bem como a presença e colaboração dos muitos amigos, Irmãs e Irmãs e simples turistas que passavam e vieram saber de que tratava a agitação.

Gostaria de destacar, pelo conteúdo e qualidade, a intervenção do principal autor Português na temática Templária e da Portuguesia, Manuel J. Gandra, que destacou algumas das passagens mais reveladoras e até intrigantes da Bula de criação da Ordem de Cristo, em que se deixa clara a continuidade da do Templo, assunto sobre o qual muitos escrevem, mas poucos de facto concretizam.

Destaco igualmente o apoio permanente e verdadeira militância espiritual das Comendas do nosso Priorado e dos seus membros individualmente, que se viram desta vez apoiados pela visita de Irmãos e Irmãs de outros ramos da Ordem, quer do Algarve, quer mesmo de Espanha, num exemplo de cooperação e convívio fraternal até há pouco tempo inaudito, numa época em que tão facilmente caímos no erro de dividir o mundo em “nós” e “eles”. A todos o nosso agradecimento e aos visitantes, a certeza de que este foi o início de muitos projectos em que com eles contamos.

Sublinho o desempenho exemplar do nosso corpo litúrgico, liderado pelo Comendador de Lisboa e Bispo da Old Templar Church, apoiado nesta ocasião pelo Comendador de Laccobriga, pelos Grandes Oficias Preceptor e Hospitaleiro e demais Irmãos e Irmãs, que ficarão anónimos. Sabemos quem são, sentimos no profundo do coração o efeito do vosso trabalho.

Finalmente, terminando como comecei, sabendo bem o que custa organizar, gerir e montar um evento desta natureza num dos lugares maiores da nossa história, destaco o profissionalismo, o carinho e a paciência como a Câmara Municipal de Castro Marim nos recebeu, Agradeço ao Presidente Francisco Amaral, à sua Vice-Presidente Filomena Pascoal Sintra pela insuperável simpatia e atenção bem como a toda a equipa camarária, cujo esforço e dedicação não passou despercebido. Bem hajam.

Para o ano há que reavivar a memória. Castro Marim e a Ordem de Cristo são património de todos nós, todo o ano, Há que não o esquecer. Possamos ser dignos de tal herança.

Luis de Matos
Prior Geral
osmthu.org

This is NOT the face of a Templar – It’s the face of human stupidity on steroids

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Once again – too often it seems – a massacre opened the news and grabbed headlines worldwide. The attack of a fanatic on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left almost 50 killed and many wounded. It was a mad rampage carefully planned and broadcast live on social media for the world to see and discuss.

The fuel of these kind of acts is our attention and the perpetuation of it in time by the outrage for terrorism of any kind, poured by us on social media. Our comments and often polarized remarks prolongue the effect the terrorist had in mind. So, I for one am going to shut it down and extinguish the flame of hatred and bigotry this piece of provocation intended to stir. It won’t feed it with my energy.

The only reason why I see myself compelled to make a statement is simply because – as it has happened in the relative recent past – the name of the Templar Order was used to justify the misadjustment of individuals and the criminal way they decided to adjust reality to their personal illusory self constructed hell. In a document left behind as a sort of “Manifest”, giving the illusion that something deeper than a human free willing sense of pathological narcissism and god-like power over life and death was behind the killing, the attacker says: (quote) “[Before the massacre] I did contact the reborn Knights Templar for a blessing in support of the attack, which was given.”

To this I have 3 short statements that I plea should not even be discussed further:

1 – The Templars do not need to be “reborn”

2 – The Order does not support terrorism in any shape or form, from any group or side, even given the obvious historical anachronism of the quoted line

3 – This is NOT the face of a Templar – It’s the face of human stupidity on steroids

 

Luis de Matos, Eques a Flamula Veritatis

International Chancellor

Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jersusalem Universal

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.

Pentecost Benedictio Militis, Arraiolos 2018 – The Ceremony

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A substantial part of the ceremony of adoubement is conducted privately, only accessible to members of the Order. The act of adoubement itself, however, is public. It becomes a commitment not only to the Order but also to the world. Having this in mind, it’s not easy to describe the complete ceremony as it is conducted in the priory of Portugal, since it strictly follows Tradition, starting just moments before sunset, leading to a night long vigil where the future Knights and Dames are led to contemplate their life and prepare to partake of a new quality, that is both physical and spiritual, that could change their lives.

It is preferable, therefore, that we let images and quotes fill the gaps of what is customary to make public and what is deemed as more suitable to keep reserved and personal.

Alba Avis

“Once they have installed themselves in this holy house with their horses and their weapons, clean it”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Ex Occidente Lux

“Colors are light’s suffering and joy”, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Lux in Flamma

“Danger or victory depends on the disposition of heart”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

In Tenebrae

“This is, I say, a new kind of knighthood and one unknown to the ages gone by. It ceaselessly wages a twofold war both against flesh and blood and against a spiritual army of evil in the heavens.”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Sola Fide

Spero in Fide

Post Tenebras Lux

“Go forth confidently”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Gaudium

Benedictio Militis

“If some perhaps find my work unsatisfactory or short of the mark, I shall be nonetheless content, since I have not failed to give you my best.”, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

All photos were taken by members of the Order, including Novices, Squires, Knights and Dames. For a full credit list, please visit our Facebook Group.

The Order has the following new Knights and Dames: Catarina Silva, DTJ; Cristina Vargas, DTJ; Filipe Silva, KTJ; Inês Ferreira, DTJ; João Gonçalves, KTJ; Jorge Amador, KTJ; Jorge Cravosa, KTJ; Pedro Bernardo, KTJ; Vera Reis, DTJ. The Order also received new Novices and Squires.

After the Benedictio Militis and the Pentecost Mass, the Order joined the Idegeo [Association] of Professor Manuel J. Gandra‘s celebration of Pentecost in Arraiolos. The Portuguese traditional Império do Divino Espírito Santo, in preparation for the Third Age announced by Joachim of Fiore or the Fifth Empire (of the Holy Spirit) referred to by poet Fernando Pessoa and many others, is comprised of an Auto, with the Parade and Coronation of the Child King, followed by the Bodo do Império, a popular feast and meal shared between all the participants as the anticipation of an era of the universal fraternity of mankind. This is the second year that the Priory of Portugal supports and attends these celebrations as part of the annual calendar.

For inquiries, feel free to email osmthu@mail.com

Pentecost Benedictio Militis, Arraiolos 2018 – The Lunch and the Conference

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Master Antonio Paris with Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor and GP Portugal

The solitary Knight is often depicted in old chivalry tales as the perfect image of wisdom and valour. Indeed, each Knight and Dame of the Templar Order today should aim to live up to that expectation. But the Order becomes stronger when two or three meet in person and work towards our goals That is why the OSMTHU has long established the habit of adding to the already satisfying lunch or dinner event – a moment of friendship and joyful conviviality – a new moment of learning and sharing of ideas and experiences. And that moment is the Conference or Round Table.

The Council Meeting

Friday was a peaceful day in Arraiolos. The beautiful village in the Portuguese region of Alentejo was the perfect setting to the Magisterial Council meeting Master Emeritus Antonio Paris promoted. But no rush. No worries. Life is taken lightly here in Alentejo. After everyone arrived at the Pousada of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, an old convent restored to it’s glory and opened to the public as an excellent hotel, it was time to find a place to have a light meal. Commander Rui herdadinha was already waiting, with a full afternoon of leisure in mind: typical local food, a walk to the Arraiolos castle, a stroll down the narrow streets of the village, famous for its rugs and tapestries.

Master Antonio Paris, Sister Patricia Oyarzun, Fr+ Leslie Payine, Seneschal and Prior of England and Wales

In the late afternoon the Council met, welcoming two of the visiting Order leaders so that the discussion could be broader and more informed. Master Paris lead the meeting, in which he announced his intention of resuming his Office (see the news and details here), working for unity in the Templar world. Fr+ Luis de Matos, Chancellor and Interim Master and Fr+ Leslie Payne, Seneschal were also present, with invited guests Sister Patricia Oyarzun and Fr+ Vinko Lisec, Prior of Croatia.

The discussions were extensive and working plans for the next two years were laid out and analysed. That day the Declaration of Arraiolos was drafted, to be signed in the following days.

Master Antonio Paris, analyzing a draft of the Declaration

Gala Lunch

Masterly organized by Commander Rui Herdadinha, with the precious help of Fr+ Filipe Beja, Director at the Pousada, the Gala Lunch was a great opportunity for Templars from all over Portugal and members of foreign delegations to meet each other, exchange views and experiences, talk about their templar projects and ambitions (we’re involved in projects such as the Portuguese Templar Santiago Way, the Feytorias Project, a research project, of which more will be known shortly) and generally having a great time.

Present at the Lunch was the full leadership of the Portuguese Order, including Fr+ Luis de Matos, Prior General, Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon and In Ecclesia Bishop Christophorus de Lusignan, Fr+ Paulo Valente, Commander of Sintra, Fr+ Victor Varela Martins, Commander of Laccobriga, Fr+ Rui Herdadinha, Commander of Arraiolos and Sister Paula Valente, Preceptor of Porto, as well as Novices, Squires, Knights and Dames of the Priory.

Visiting delegations were composed by Master Antonio Paris, Fr+ Leslie Payne, Seneschal and Grand Prior of England and Wales, Fr+ Vinko Lisec, Grand Prior of Croatia with Fr+ Lovro Tomasinec and Sister Paricia Oyarzun, currently Cabinet Secretary to the Council. Finally, the Lunch was further honoured by the presence of Fr+ Antonio Andrade, Prior General of Portugal of the OSMTH and his Chancellor Fr+ Fernando Castelo Branco.

The Conference

The opening session of the Conference took place in the Arraiolos Library on Friday night, with the presence of a representative of the local Municipality authority, the speakers and Commander Rui Herdadinha.

On Saturday the main session opened at 3pm, under the general theme “Conflict and War- The Concept of Just War in the 21st Century”. Messages were sent by Priorires and Templar authorities that were not able to be present, from all over the world. These messages were read and will be added to the Proceedings in order to be published later in the year as a compilation book on the subject.

The Commander opened the session thanking all those who contributed with papers and messages to the Conference, introducing Master Paris who reminded everyone of the history of the Just War concept, including the contribution of Saint Agustin and Saint Ignatius.

Fr+ João Pedro Silva talked about Spiritual Chivalry, bringing up some of the main tenants of the Order, followed by Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Commander of Lisbon who read a passage from the “City of God” by Saint Agustin, commenting on it.

arraiolos18_41

Finally Fr+ Vinko Lisec, with the aid of Fr+ Lovro Tomasinec on the translation, told about his personal experience of war, reminding everyone that Croatia was torn between conflicting armies just a few years ago, when Yugoslavia broke apart. His account of the current refugee situation in his country, as well as of the disappearance of a national citizen in Egypt, kidnapped and used as ransom bargain by extremist groups, threatened to be beheaded in a video and since in an unknown location, had everyone gripped.

The session was brought to a close at the end of the afternoon. After a short visit that the Library of Arraiolos merited, as one of the oldest public buildings in town, having served as the Mala Posta (old Royal Postal Service of Portugal), it was time for group photos.

Some of the attendees then rushed to nearby coffee shops and terraces to get some water or a cold beer that would help to bring solace to a hot sunny afternoon in Alentejo. Others formed smaller groups debating the theme of the day and preparing for the evening’s ceremonies. After all, in less that one hour, the National Chapter was due to open in the Convent.

For inquiries, feel free to email osmthu@mail.com

NEXT: Pentecost – The Ceremony

JORNADAS TEMPLÁRIAS PARA O CONHECIMENTO ECUMÉNICO

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As “Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico” decorreram nos passados dias 13, 14 e 15 de Abril/2018, em Lagos, no Algarve.

 

As Jornadas constituíram-se de um “Trivium”:

A – Integrando um conjunto de actividades, constituindo-se de uma “Feira de Cultura Regional”, com área expositiva da Ordem dos Templários, feira-do-livro, artesanato, doçaria regional e conventual; que decorreu no Armazém Regimental nos dias 13, 14 e 15.

B – Assim como, no dia 14, sábado, realizaram-se as Jornadas do Conhecimento propriamente ditas, no Auditório do Edifício da Câmara Municipal – Lagos Séc.XXI, entre as 09:30 e as 18:30, com um conjunto de palestras, por Dignitários convidados, que abordaram o tema proposto na perspectiva da corrente doutrinária, filosófica, sociológica, espiritual ou religiosa que professada por cada um dos ilustres convidados.

Cada prelecção durou até 40 minutos, em que o orador respectivo expôs a sua comunicação dentro do Tema escolhido para este Ano – Esperança e Caridade. As comunicações não foram sujeitas a período de perguntas nem a contraditório, procurando-se a construção de um Conhecimento Ecuménico, pelo reconhecimento e aceitação da diferença, a partilha de realidades, a abertura pelo entendimento a diferentes Verdades.

A abertura dos trabalhos decorreu com uma actuação musical, pelo Grupo Coral de Lagos, com trechos medievais dos Séc. XIV e XV.

As Jornadas Templárias tiveram entrada livre a Toda a Comunidade e Organizações. Todos foram muito bem-vindos.

A Organização esteve a cargo da Comenda de Laccobriga e contou com o alto-patrocínio da OSMTHU – Priorado Ibérico da Ordem do Templo, o apoio da Associação Lagoriente – Al-Gharb, da Associação Grupo Coral de Lagos, do Exército Português, da Junta de Freguesia de São Gonçalo de Lagos e da Câmara Municipal de Lagos, assim como o apoio de diversas Organizações da Sociedade Civil nacional.

Objectiva-se a elaboração de um resumo das comunicações das Jornadas, bem como a elaboração da Acta das Jornadas Templárias, com o objectivo final de publicação deste conhecimento e a divulgação do mesmo junto de diversos Organismos da Sociedade, assim como a sua difusão dentro da Ordem do Templo.

Foram convidados oradores representantes de Confissões Religiosas, de Instituições étnicas e convidados da sociedade civil, nomeadamente:

Igreja Católica Romana, Maçonaria Regular, Judaismo, Peregrinos de Santiago, Entidades de Solidariedade Social, Templários e Investigadores Académicos.

Considerando-se que este é um tema central, quer no ternário das virtudes teologais: Fé, Esperança e Caridade; quer na constelação mítica e histórica da identidade portuguesa; eis então o motivo primeiro da escolha do tema para esta primeira edição das Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico. Pelo que a Comenda de Laccobriga da OSMTHU deseja, desta forma, poder inculcar a semente em Todos aqueles que, durante este dia, buscaram o conhecimento ecuménico, a aceitação e a partilha, caminhando para um mundo melhor, mais fraterno, de paz, em que os valores crísticos sejam a bandeira que possamos elevar bem alto.

C – No dia 15, domingo, pela manhã, decorreu uma cerimónia solene, interna à Ordem mas aberta a todos os Irmãos de todos os Ramos Templários; chamamento que, de forma fraternal, teve eco e que, nesta celebração eucarística da Igreja Joanita Templária, a Egrégora saiu reforçada, os Irmãos preencheram os seus corações e cumprimos  mais uma etapa deste Caminho para a missão a que nos haviam incumbido.

Arrolamos aqui também, outra trindade, entre o Infante Henrique de Sagres, el-Rei Dom Sebastião e a Rainha Santa Isabel de Portugal. Ainda que vindos por caminhos diferentes, encontrar-se-iam ao centro, fundindo, num só, dois aspectos complementares da espiritualidade portuguesa. Pelo caminho de Sebastião vinha a esperança no resgate  espiritual e temporal do povo português. Pelo de Isabel, a universalidade do amor, aspecto central no impulso da dádiva e da caridade. Teríamos, então, a Esperança e a Caridade. E, de Henrique, o Navegador, temos esta bela terra de Laccobriga, capital de antanho do Reino do Algarve, sede deste caminho para Ocidente em busca do Oriente, herdeira do entreposto marítimo na demanda da Jerusalém.

Resta-nos, agradecendo a participação de todos, a Todos convidar e vincular para as segundas Jornadas Templárias para o Conhecimento Ecuménico, a realizar em 2019, em Lagos. Juntai-vos a Nós neste desígnio que a Todos nos envolve.

No nobis Domini, no nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Glóriam

A Todos Vós, meus irmãos, Boas Jornadas.

 

PROGRAMA ::

 

+ Dr Luis de Matos, Prior Geral do Priorado Ibérico O::S::M::T::H::U::

+ Prof. Manuel Gandra, Apresentação do Livro: Alquimia

+ Dr Joaquim Jorge, Presidente da AMAYUR – Ayurveda

+ Dr Jaime Ramos, Presidente da Fundação A.D.F.P.

+ Pe José Manuel, Pároco da Praia-da-Luz

+ Drª Isabel Quirino, Psicóloga, Peregrina dos Cam. de Santiago

+ Ms Susana Karina, Tese Mestrado – Memórias de Santiago

+ Prof. Manuel Gandra, Filósofo, Investigador e Autor

+ Dr Luis Fonseca, Deputado Mestre em Portugal do G:.P:.R:.D:.H:.

Pentecost Benedictio Militia 2018

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Come and celebrate Pentecost in a Templar way.

The 18 – 20 May 2018 the Priory of Portugal will host a three day event that includes Conferences, Debates and a full Adoubement Ceremony with Vigil and Pentecost Benedictio Militia.

Templars from any branch of the Order are invited. Most activities (except the Vigil and short private section of the ceremony) are opened to the public, subject to pre-registration. All are welcome. More details (place, times, registration, etc.) upon request.

Request your invitation today.

 https://templarsosmthu.wordpress.com/the-order/pentecost-benedictio-militia-2018/

FAQ

Q: Who is organizing this Event?
A: The Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU

Q: Who is the OSMTHU?
A: A branch of the Palaprat Templar Order (1804) that is organized in Autonomous Priories since 1945. You can check the provenance here: https://templarsosmthu.wordpress.com/structure-and-provena…/

Q: Is this the Templar Order of the Middle Ages or a (the) right descendant lineage of that Order?
A: No. There is no such thing. The history of the Templars is fascinating, but one thing is sure: after over 900 years of its foundation and 700 years after its suspension, no single group can make such a claim with any degree of truth. There were pockets of survival at the time and we do study what became of the Order and its project across Europe, but any claim of continuity from any group should be regarded with extreme caution.

Q: So, why are you using the Order’s name and symbols?
A: For the same reason that we still have the Olympics today. For the same reason modern Universities, Academies and other Institutions draw on their Greek and Roman predecessors: the spirit is alive and the values they stood for are still valid and very much in need in today’s world. There is no linear historical flow, but the spiritual connection and ideals can be mastered and put to use. Our Order has been doing so for over 200 years and our branch for over half a century. It’s not likely we’ll stop now!

Q: Is this connected with Freemasonry?
A: No. Freemasonry is a fraternal Order that has no direct link to the 1804 revival of the Templar Order by Palaprat.

Q: I have joined the Templars in a branch different from yours. Can I attend the event?
A: Yes. We accept Registration to the Event by every Knight or Dame that can attest affiliation to a Templar inspired Order, such as OSMTJ, OSMTH, OCMTJ, OSTI, OCE, OVDT, CBCS, KT, OSMA, etc.

Q: But I am not active at the moment. Can I still attend?
A: Once Chivalry is duly transmitted, it remains active in oneself if the values are kept. We don’t want to know about current membership status in any Order. Membership is a private matter for each individual. We only need to validate that Chivalry was transmitted so that we can open the access to the private part of the ceremony to those who wish to attend it.

Q: I am not a member of any Templar Order. Can I attend?
A: The general public can Register and attend the Event. The only exception is part of the Vigil (that starts around 9pm on Saturday and ends around 8am the next morning). New Knights and Dames need to be secluded and in silence and meditation during that period. The ceremony ends with the doors of the church opened to the public and the celebration of Mass and Eucharist at 9am on Sunday.

Q: Apart from the Ceremony, what else will take place?
A: There will be a Conference and Debate on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, with several guests speaking on “Conflict and the Notion of the Just War”. There will be a Gala Lunch on Saturday where attendees, members and invited guests, will network and get to know each other. The start of the Vigil, around 6pm and up to 9pm will take place in the church and will be opened to the public. Doors close at 9pm and only Knights and Dames may remain then. Doors will reopen at 9am on Sunday allowing the public to witness the completion of the Ceremony and Mass. In all, there are three days of conferences, debates, talks and ceremonies.

Q: I’m not a member of a Templar Order. Can I become a Knight (or Dame) during the Event?
A: No. The Pentecost Benedictio Militis is a ceremony that closes a cycle that was opened when the members that are going to be Knighted were received as Novices quite a while ago. The Order is not accepting novices during Pentecost.

Q: Where will the Event take place?
A: It will take place In the country of Portugal, in a small medieval village relatively close to the capital, Lisbon.

Q: Why don’t you disclose the location?
A: To avoid unwanted attention in a very special spiritual occasion, the location is only disclosed to Registered participants. The Event will take place in a village conveniently accessible from the main Portuguese airport, featuring good accommodation and historically rich surroundings.

Q: What language will be used during the Event?
A: Portuguese and English.

Q: How much does it cost to attend?
A: Further information should be requested via email to osmthu@mail.com

The historical reality of the Templars of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’

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The planning was meticulous. Signed and sealed, laden with accusation and instruction, the letters were sent by the king to local authorities throughout his realm. They were to act exactly one month later, simultaneously and at the crack of dawn — on a Friday the 13th, as it happened. The targets were unaware of what lay in store, their leader even spending time with the king and seeming to enjoy his favor. The hour came, and armed men launched their surprise, summarily carrying off hundreds to the king’s dungeons, and many ultimately to their deaths. It was a performance reminiscent of a Stalinist purge or Hitler’s Night of the Long Knives.

The year was 1307, and the month was October. The king was Philip IV of France. And his victims were all members of the order of “the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Jerusalem,” better known as the Knights Templar — or simply the Templars. Over a period of two centuries, this charitable and military order of Crusaders had grown in power and wealth. At a stroke, and with the acquiescence of a weakened pope, Philip destroyed the order, imprisoning its leaders and burning many at the stake. “God will avenge our death,” said James of Molay, the last Grand Master, as he faced the flames on an island in the Seine.

And, in a way, God has. The Templars live on in popular culture — from the video game “Assassin’s Creed” to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” Philip IV does not.

Dan Jones, the author of well-regarded histories of the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses, obviously gives no credence to the conspiratorial fantasies that have been spun around the Templars over the years. No, they do not guard the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail, and never did. No, a surviving remnant does not protect the identities of the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdelene. No, the order does not secretly run the world — that’s the Trilateral Commission or maybe Skull and Bones. In “The Templars,” Jones relegates this curious afterlife to an epilogue. His aim is to present a gripping historical narrative, and in this he succeeds.

The raw material is rich. Founded by a French knight in 1119, after the successful First Crusade, the Templars began with a mission to protect throngs of pilgrims now traveling to the Holy Land. The members of the order wore white robes with a distinctive red cross, embraced personal poverty and lived according to a regime codified by the great Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. A papal charter was followed by a papal decree granting the Templars an exemption from taxes and local laws, effectively creating a transnational entity whose members could go anywhere. As Jones describes it, the order comes across as a combination of Blackwater, Goldman Sachs, Kroll International, FedEx, Fort Knox, Bechtel and, well, the Red Cross.

The financial acumen of the Templars was considerable. In the post-“Da Vinci Code” era, visitors to London often make their way to the Temple Church, between Fleet Street and the Thames, built in the mid-12th century. The circular nave — typical of Templar churches — is the oldest part of the structure and was used as a repository by English nobles and by the Crown itself. “By the 1240s,” Jones writes, “the order was providing diverse financial services to some of the richest and most powerful figures across Christendom.” The Templars “guaranteed debts, ransomed hostages and prisoners of war on credit, and could arrange very large loans — such as the one made in 1240 to Baldwin II, the emperor of Constantinople, and secured by his very own fragment of the True Cross.”

The order’s military record was mixed. In 1187, an army of Templars and others, under King Guy of Jerusalem, was surrounded and slaughtered by the sultan Saladin in his successful campaign to restore Palestine to the Muslim fold. Saladin had played his hand skillfully: stopping up wells even as he enticed the Christians farther into the searing flats; pausing long enough to allow dehydration to take its toll; then moving in for the kill. Some 200 Templars were captured, and Saladin beheaded them all.

That was an unhappy episode, but the Templars had another century of influential life in front of them, until that Friday the 13th in 1307. Philip IV was pious, paranoid, unscrupulous and mercurial — and deeply in debt to the Templars. It was all too easy to manufacture charges of heresy, blasphemy and sexual depravity: urinating on the cross, having sex on the altar — the usual allegations. The power and secretiveness of the Templars only fueled the charges. The decisive blow was struck in France, but within a few years the Templars were extinct throughout Christendom, except in the popular imagination.

“The themes of the Templar story resonate powerfully today,” Jones observes. He rightly does not pontificate about this and draws no specious parallels, but the reader can’t help recognizing familiar territory. There is the preoccupation in the West with what we now call the Middle East. Religions collide and atrocities abound. Cries of “Allahu akhbar” pierce the din of battle. The power of states is threatened, or seen to be threatened, by unaccountable forces with global tentacles. Information is unreliable and easily manipulated, allowing conspiracy theories to take root and spread.

Nothing is left of the Templars except words on parchment and ruins in stone. An older crusading order with certain similarities, the Knights Hospitaller, does still exist, after a fashion — its genetic progeny are the Knights of Malta. They have a palatial headquarters on the Aventine in Rome. They have a papal charter and enjoy quasi-sovereign status. They can issue their own passports. They maintain diplomatic relations with a hundred countries. And, like the Templars, they do not rule the world.

By Cullen Murphy in The Washington Post