Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reshaping the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - 1847 to present

Peter Carroll, Queensland leader of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre,
meets Pope Francis in Rome (2013)
as the order’s Pro-Grandmaster Cardinal Edwin O’Brien watches on.source
After their origin in 1103 and some 80 years of existence, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291.

The passing of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem left the Order without a leader, though it continued to survive in the European priories thanks to the protection of sovereigns, princes, bishops and the Holy See.

The priories kept alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defence of the weak, charity towards other human beings. With the exception of events in Spain, it was only rarely that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre ever took part again in military action to defend Christianity.

In 1847 the Patriarchate was restored and Pope Pius IX modernised the Order, issuing a new Constitution which placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See and conferred its government to the Latin Patriarch. The Order’s fundamental role was also defined: to uphold the works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whilst preserving the spiritual duty of propagating the Faith.

In 1949, Pius XII decreed that the Grand Master of the Order should be a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and assigned the position of Grand Prior to the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In 1962 Pope John XXIII and, in 1967, Pope Paul VI reorganised and revitalised the Order by adding more specific regulations to the Constitution with the intention of making the Order’s activities more co-ordinated and more effective.

In February 1996, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II enhanced the Order’s status. Today it is a Public Association of faithful with a legal canonical and public personality, constituted by the Holy See under Canon Law 312, paragraph 1:1.

Over and above its historic connotations and its eventful progress in times gone by, the valuable and interesting aspects of the Order today lie in the role assigned to it, which it pursues within the sphere of the Catholic Church and through its administrative structure and its local organisations in various communities.

The Order’s aims today are:
  • To strengthen in its members the practice of Christian life, in absolute fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff and according to the teachings of the Church, observing as its foundation the principles of charity which make the Order a fundamental means of assistance to the Holy Land
  • To sustain and aid the charitable, cultural and social works and institutions of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, particularly those of and in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with which the Order maintains traditional ties
  • To support the preservation and propagation of the Faith in those lands, and promote interest in this work not only among Catholics scattered throughout the world, who are united in charity by the symbol of the Order, but also among all other Christians;
  • To uphold the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is the only lay institution of the Vatican State charged with the task of providing for the needs of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of all the activities and initiatives to support the Christian presence in the Holy Land. The contributions made by its members are therefore the Patriarchal institutions’ main source of funding.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

The Approach of the modern Knights Templar OSMTH


The main modern international Templar Order is the "Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani" OSMTH or Knights Templar International.

The following blog quotes "the Approach" from the OSMTH Overview, which can be downloaded here:



"Although a Christian Order, OSMTH is not a church, fundamentalist group or missionary organisation - we do not give spiritual guidance nor judge those who follow another path of faith. We are not modern day "Crusaders". We express our Christian belief through our works.

As a modern-day Order we achieve these works through our "four pillars":
  1. Peacemaking, Peacebuilding and Justice: mediation, facilitation, diplomacy, humanitarian relief, capacity building and development;
  2. Clergy: close and active working relations with all Christian denominations, plus interfaith dialogue and bridge-building;
  3. Membership: high-level membership with regards to professional expertise, motivation, and networks;
  4. Tradition: expressed as a Chivalric Order through our Ecclesiastic protection and Royal patronage, the Regula Moderna, ethical code of conduct, academic and historical discourse.
However four other factors are crucial to the approach and governance of our Order: democracy, transparency, equality, and non-political activity or allegiance."

Also see the (multilingual) "Brussels Declaration: “Aiding Humanity on the Pilgrimage through Life” "

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Breaking away of the Church from the secular society in the 11th century

Gregory VII source
This blog quotes freely from the thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here

"Historians are in agreement that from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, medieval Europe and the development of the Church saw rapid and radical change. After centuries of a move away from the archaic values of the desert fathers, the Church became embroiled in the political structure of Europe and became more and more intertwined with the secular world as the secular and spiritual worlds fought for power.

(At the beginning op this period TN) The Church did not rule itself; the highest papal offices were filled with nobility, or chosen by the nobility, to fulfil their own desires. The Church owned many lands in central Europe at this point, and control over it led to these struggles over authority. However, by the end of the thirteenth century the control of the Church had changed hands, with the majority of it being ruled by spiritual leaders, rather than kings’ men....

.... The Gregorian Reforms, issued at the end of the eleventh century, were the single, biggest reason that the change began. The Gregorian Reforms, which take their name from the reigning pope at the time, Pope Gregory VII, who instigated the reforms, sought a breaking away of the church from the secular society. Pope Gregory VII, and many of his contemporaries, felt that a return to the values of old were necessary to reform the Church back to what they believed to be pure. Part of Gregory’s attacks on Church practices was that of clerical marriage, thereby encouraging a departure from secular life. Gregory also attacked, perhaps more importantly, given the change that followed, the practice of investiture within the Church, in all its various forms. This is another, yet more apparent, deviation from the secular society that had a hold over the Church at this point.... It seems that Gregory was trying to reinforce earlier attempts at a separation of church and state. Pope Nicholas II was the leader of the Church from 1058 to 1061, meaning that the Investiture Controversy was slowly building from at least the mid-eleventh century, but highly likely much longer.

.... A form of capitalism in the social climate of the eleventh century was the incentive for gaining power. The theory of a rowing intellectualism in western Europe also has its merits; ‘The rise of the universities meant a further extension of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, since all formal education was regarded as a matter for churchmen.’"

source: Thesis by Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders

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"The thesis firstly establishes the origins and ideals of the early Cistercians from primary sources. Then an analysis of the Templar sources is used to draw comparisons between the two Orders. Lastly, the thesis looks at the personal influence of St Bernard, and his opinion on the paradoxical combination of monk and knighthood that is found in the Templar Order.

The thesis discovers that there are many similarities in ideology in both Orders, but that this is not the many influence of the Cistercians upon the Templars. Authenticating the Order with the Roman Catholic Church and the Templar Order’s structure appear to be the most influential impacts that the Cistercians have, and it is through these that the Knights Templar managed to gain support and grow at an exponential rate.

St Bernard’s personal impact was to bring the Templars into the mainstream thinking of the Church by tying them to traditional routes rather than portraying the Order as an innovation. Bernard’s support of the Order in turn led to widespread support in Europe that no other supporter could have provided for the Knights Templar."

This blog quotes the Introduction to the Thesis of Lori Firth, Hull University (2012):  "A Comparison of the Cistercian and Knights Templar Orders, And the Personal Influence of Bernard of Clairvaux", to be found here. 
Templars Now will in subsequent blogs share information from this important thesis.

The trial of the Templars summarized - quotes


The trial of the Templars has been summarized by Malcolm Barber in the Introduction to "The Debate on the Trial of the Templars (1307–1314)". This blog quotes a part of the introduction.

"The trial of the Templars is one of the most sensational events of the high middle ages. Contemporaries expressed astonishment when, on the 13th, the day after the funeral, all the members of the order in France were suddenly arrested and accused of what amounted to the renunciation of the faith that they were supposed to be defending with their lives. They had, the French government alleged, all been received into the order in ceremonies in which they denied Christ, spat on a crucifix and engaged in obscene kissing with their receptor and, thereafter, they had been obliged to take part in acts of sodomy with other brothers and to worship idols. Molay was not alone: during November and December, French royal officials succeeded in gaining admissions of guilt from nearly all the Templars in their custody, and it looked as if the order was doomed.

However, the trial was prolonged because of unexpected resistance, first from the pope, Clement V, and then from the Templars themselves, led by the order’s former procurator at the papal court, Peter of Bologna. Clement V intervened because he regarded the affair as an affront to his jurisdiction and dignity, for he had not been consulted about the arrests but, as he could not reverse the process, he decided to attempt to take over the proceedings himself, ordering arrests in other countries and conducting his own inquiries. The papal intervention had a quite startling effect, for some of the Templars withdrew their confessions, claiming they had been made under coercion. Thus, early in 1308, the pope suspended the proceedings, and it was only after massive pressure from the French crown, culminating in a direct confrontation at Poitiers in May and June 1308, that he could be induced to restart them. This time they took the form of a papal commission to inquire into the order as a whole, and a series of local, episcopal inquiries, which were to investigate individuals at the diocesan level.

The operation of the papal commission in Paris offered the Templars another opportunity and there, in the spring of 1310, they mounted such an effective defence that the French government had to resort to further intimidation in the form of execution by burning of various groups of Templars who had the misfortune to be held in dioceses where the bishops were closely allied to the French monarchy. Even then, there were Templars willing to offer a defence before the commission, but the French government’s control of the personnel of the order meant that few of them had the chance to speak out again. The end came in the spring of 1312 at the council of Vienne, when the pope, having gathered reports from across Christendom, declared that the order was too defamed to continue and thus suppressed it, although he did not condemn it on the original charges. Its property was to be transferred to the Hospitallers – by this time established in Rhodes – so that it could continue to be used in the cause of the recovery of the Holy Land, which the pope claimed had been the original intention of the donors."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem - non-military blueprint of the Knights Templar?

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The origins of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem date back to the First Crusade, when its leader, Godfrey de Bouillon, liberated Jerusalem. As part of his operations to organise the religious, military and public bodies of the territories newly freed from Muslim control, he founded the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre.

According to accounts of the Crusades, in 1103 the first King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I, assumed the leadership of this canonical order, and reserved the right for himself and his successors (as agents of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) to appoint Knights to it, should the Patriarch be absent or unable to do so.

The Order’s members included not only the Regular Canons (Fratres) but also the Secular Canons (Confratres) and the Sergentes. The latter were armed knights chosen from the crusader troops for their qualities of valour and dedication; they vowed to obey Augustinian Rule of poverty and obedience and undertook specifically, under the command of the King of Jerusalem, to defend the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Places.

Very soon after the First Crusade the troops – including the Knights of the Order of Canons of the Holy Sepulchre – began to return to their homelands. This led to the creation of priories all over Europe, which were part of the Order as they came under the jurisdiction of the noble knights or prelates who had been invested on the Holy Sepulchre itself and who, although they were no longer in the direct service of the King of Jerusalem, continued to belong to the Order of Canons.

The Order first began to fail as a cohesive military body of knights after Saladin regained Jerusalem in 1182, and completely ceased to exist in that format after the defeat of Acre in 1291. The passing of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem left the Order without a leader, though it continued to survive in the European priories thanks to the protection of sovereigns, princes, bishops and the Holy See.

The priories kept alive the ideals of the Crusader Knights: propagation of the Faith, defence of the weak, charity towards other human beings. With the exception of events in Spain, it was only rarely that the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre ever took part again in military action to defend Christianity.

In the 14th century, the Holy See made an extremely high payment to the Egyptian Sultan so that he would grant the right to protect the Christian Sanctuaries to the Franciscan Friars Minor. Throughout the whole period of the Latin Patriarchate’s suppression, the right to create new Knights was the prerogative of the representative of the highest Catholic authority in the Holy Land: the Custos.

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