Mystery and Passion of the Knights Templars

October 13th – 1307 – 2003

This day, the 13th October – is the 696th year after the arrest and trial of the Knights Templars in France, under orders from the King of France, Phillip IV, called the fair, in 1307…The trial lasted until 18th March 1314, when the last Grand Master of the order, Jacques de Molay, was burned alive at the stake near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The legend tells that De Molay then graciously invited the King of France and Pope Clement V to join him within the year, before his voice would die and a terrible calm would spread with the smoke. The fact is that the ambitious king and his overbearing mentor, the Pope did not survive a year after the accomplishment of the annihilation of the order, and all the great visions he had had, of the domination of all chivalric orders, on a great influence on religion and economy, on a thousand year reign.. fell like ashes.
The Templars are romantic,mythic and legendary dynamite – they are either part of some conspiracy, or the ones who are either its martyrs or exposers.. to the public imagination these warrior-monks have contributed a revival of the Hero from the more archetypical background of the ideal/idea. Not surprisingly the Templars achieved posthumous fame as being the guardians of the Holy Grail – the receptacle of the blood of Jesus while he hung upon the cross, modern fable has translated the rather obstrustive and morbid image of this to the idea that Jesus had children and that the Templars protected his fittingly English/French/Italian offspring and protected the secret interests of the invisible Citadel, the theocratic seat of power somewhere.
Philip le Bel demonstrated quite powerfully the fault of those, who might well have harboured similar ideas, in machinating the process against the Templars.. while they had powerfull allies, and in prinsciple they could cause the economical collapse of at the very least his empire (built as it was, on Crusaders treasures and war tax, and made dependent on the banking system the Templars introduced.) they had also sworn absolute fealty to the Pope, an incredibly unwise endeavour as history has demonstrated, and as such, when he deigned with his holiness to betray them – they were sold. Documents from the process show that many tried to vindicate themselves of the most infamous accusations – including diabolism,the worship of felines backsides, homosexuality, blasphemy, sorcery, withcraft and heresy and a goodly list of others – but no coherent strategy were feasible, the torturers irons were now hot and would not be put out until the last Templar submitted to the charges and were thrown on the pyre.

The initial function for the Order were to safeguard pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. It was founded by Hughes de Payen with approval from the Pope and the council of Troyes, in 1118. At that time the Order did not have a separate seal/flag and no “Rule”, but shortly thereafter Bernard of Clairveaux would write it for them. It included a stricture concerning ownership of riches and lands which is quite harsh for the kind of young nobles who joined the ranks. Before pursuing these strategic functions, they would make a full monastic vow of the most strict kind. Strange to our modern values, the medieval
Knights who joined the ranks of the Order of the Temple, combined a religious and military carriere into one. They were, basically.. monks bearing arms.Even more strange is the fact that during the process of nearly 200 years existence, while the individual Knights had taken vows of voluntary poverty, similar to that of the Dominicans,Fransiscians and, incidentally,
the heretical Cathars – the fortunes of the Order itself increased greatly, especially when the Order became engaged in military campaigns which assisted the armies of the Second Crusade.
The full name of the Knights Templar Order is really The Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon.

Rev.Steven Marshall has written a Homily for the Remembrance of the Knights Templars, which he calls the Knights of Holy Wisdom. Most certainly one of their spiritual inspirers and legal protectors, Bernard of Clairvaux, who also wrote down the rules of this Monastic Military order, dedicated his work to Hochmah, Sophia, Shekinah – the feminine Holy Wisdom, which he understood to be contained in essence within the Holy Scriptures. The order, once accused of denying the mysteries concerning the Holy Virgin, were in fact explicitly dedicated to the service and protection of the Virgin. The Virgin Mary from the introduction of her cult at Ephesos in 493CE and onwards, came to represent the Soul, the Feminine (all Women in the Christian Communion) and the Church herself (sic!).

Rev.Marshall finishes his homily with these lines, concerning modern Gnostics feeling of affiliation with the Ideals of the first Knights Templars:
We are Knights of the Temple, the Knights of this Temple of the Gnosis. We have left the many of this world to stand alone and to stand with an invisible fellowship with which we have united ourselves in spirit, as we unite with a fellowship of Gnostics who exist everywhere, in every creed and race. We are guardians of a very sacred way, the holy road to the Heavenly Jerusalem. This is ours to guard and defend that the way of the Gnosis, that the road of the “truth that sets free” may remain open to the lost and exiled pilgrims of this world. In this way we take up our crosses as images of that Cross of Light which is the blazon of our way back to the Light that is the place of our true inheritance and our True Home.

The modern revivals of the French Gnostic Church tradition partially depended upon the transmission of a spiritual or historic nature – of a legacy from the
original Order of the Temple. In 1804 Fabre de Palaprat and others let the world know that they had restored the Medieval Order of the Temple, claiming to be beneficaries of the Charter drafted in 1324 by the hand of John Mark Larmenius, who had received command to continue the order by Jacques de Molay himself, this and several other circumstances. In fact, de Palaprat let found a “Primitive Johannite Church” on that basis of orientation.
More about those developements in Phillip Andrew Garver :History of the French Gnostic Church at the Eglise Gnostique.

Collect from the Gnostic Lectionary of the Ecclesia Gnostica

Remember them O Lord, in Thy kingdom, Thy faithful servants Jacques de Molay, Guy de Auvergne, and all the glorious martyrs of the Order of the Templars, who have shone as brilliant lights of the eternal Gnosis in their days. Thou who art ever the comforter of the oppressed and the repose of those who suffer for the sake of the truth, grant them peace, refreshment, glory and the splendour of Thy Gnosis. Grant that we, following the example of Thy Holy Martyrs, may with them bear witness to the Gnosis of Love, Liberty and Light forever. Not to us, not to us O Lord, but to Thy name be the Glory; now and for evermore.

Some sites which provide good overviews of the Templars:
The Knights Templars-Ancient and Modern
Templar History