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Vatican declares Knights Templar innocent for 700th anniversary



*** The Roman Catholic Church graciously acknowledged that the Knights Templar were innocent yesterday (Vatican Information Service, 4th Oct). The news was reported in the press today, exactly seven days before the 700th anniversary of the persecution of the Order. The persecution of the Templars began on Friday, 13 October 1307, when the medieval organisation was unjustly attacked and driven underground. A letter to the Pope from living descendents of the Templars appeared in the press in 2004. "We shall witness the 700th anniversary of the persecution of our order on 13th October 2007," the letter said. "It would be just and fitting for the Vatican to acknowledge our grievance in advance of this day of mourning." On 25 October 2007, exactly 13 days from the morning of the anniversary, an official document will be released by the Vatican absolving the Knights Templar and confirming their innocence. ***

Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar

The mysteries of the Order of the Knights Templar could soon be laid bare after the Vatican announced the release of a crucial document which has not been seen for almost 700 years.

Guardians of the Grail
[Photo: Hugh de Payens]
Knights Templar are rumoured to guard the Holy Grail

A new book, Processus contra Templarios, will be published by the Vatican's Secret Archive on Oct 25, and promises to restore the reputation of the Templars, whose leaders were burned as heretics when the order was dissolved in 1314.

The Knights Templar were a powerful and secretive group of warrior monks during the Middle Ages. Their secrecy has given birth to endless legends, including one that they guard the Holy Grail.

Recently, they have been featured in films including The Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The Order was founded by Hugues de Payns, a French knight, after the First Crusade of 1099 to protect pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. Its headquarters was the captured Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, which lent the Templars their name.

But when Jerusalem fell to Muslim rule in 1244, rumours surfaced that the knights were heretics who worshipped idols in a secret initiation ceremony.

In 1307, King Philip IV "the Fair" of France, in desperate need of funds, ordered the arrest and torture of all Templars. After confessing various sins their leader, Jacques de Molay, was burnt at the stake.

Pope Clement V then dissolved the order and issued arrest warrants for all remaining members. Ever since, the Templars have been thought of as heretics.

The new book is based on a scrap of parchment discovered in the Vatican's secret archives in 2001 by Professor Barbara Frale. The long-lost document is a record of the trial of the Templars before Pope Clement, and ends with a papal absolution from all heresies.

Prof Frale said: "I could not believe it when I found it. The paper was put in the wrong archive in the 17th century."

The document, known as the Chinon parchment, reveals that the Templars had an initiation ceremony which involved "spitting on the cross", "denying Jesus" and kissing the lower back, navel and mouth of the man proposing them.

The Templars explained to Pope Clement that the initiation mimicked the humiliation that knights could suffer if they fell into the hands of the Saracens, while the kissing ceremony was a sign of their total obedience.

The Pope concluded that the entrance ritual was not truly blasphemous, as alleged by King Philip when he had the knights arrested. However, he was forced to dissolve the Order to keep peace with France and prevent a schism in the church.

"This is proof that the Templars were not heretics," said Prof Frale. "The Pope was obliged to ask pardon from the knights.

"For 700 years we have believed that the Templars died as cursed men, and this absolves them."


SOURCE

Daily Telegraph, "Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar", 5 October 2007.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/05/wvatican105.xml


FURTHER READING

Independent Cataholic News, "Vatican Secret Archives to unveil rare book on Knights Templar", 5 October 2007.
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/knightem437.html
http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/b1_en.htm
http://www.vatican.va
    On October 25 in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall, the presentation will take place of the "Processus contra Templarios," a book published by the Vatican Secret Archives on the subject of the Knights Templar, the medieval military-religious order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 and suppressed by Pope Clement V (1305-1314).
    According to a communique made public yesterday afternoon, the new volume is "a previously unpublished and exclusive edition of the complete acts of the original hearing against the Knights Templar." The book, unique of its kind, will have a print run "rigorously limited to 799 copies" and contains the "faithful reproduction of the original parchments conserved in the Vatican Secret Archives."
    The project, the communique concludes, "is part of the series of 'Exemplaria Praetiosa,' ... the most elaborate and important publication yet undertaken by the Pontifical Archives."
    The new volume will be presented by Archbishop Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church; Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, and experts such as the historian Franco Cardini and the archaeologist and author Valerio Massimo Manfredi."
    Source: VIS (Vatican Information Service)


EWTN, "Vatican Secret Archives: 'Processus contra Templario'", 4 October 2007.
http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=82572
    VATICAN CITY, OCT 4, 2007 (VIS) - On October 25 in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall, the presentation will take place of the "Processus contra Templarios," a book published by the Vatican Secret Archives on the subject of the Knights Templar, the medieval military-religious order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 and suppressed by Pope Clement V (1305-1314).
    ...


BBC News, "Vatican book on Templars' demise", 5 October 2007.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7029513.stm
    The Vatican is to publish a book which is expected to shed light on the demise of the Knights Templar, a Christian military order from the Middle Ages.
    The book is based on a document known as the Chinon parchment, found in the Vatican Secret Archives six years ago after years of [allegedly] being incorrectly filed.
    The document is a record of the heresy hearings of the Templars before Pope Clement V in the 14th Century.
    The official who found the paper says it exonerates the knights entirely.
    ...
    The leader of the order, Jacques de Moley, was one of those who confessed [under duress and after extreme torture] to heresy, but later recanted.
    He was burned at the stake in Paris in 1314, the same year that the Pope dissolved the order.
    However, according to Prof Frale, study of the document shows that the knights were not heretics as had been believed for 700 years.
    In fact she says "the Pope was obliged to ask for pardons from the knights... the document we have found absolves them".
    Details of the parchment will be published as part of Processus contra Templarios, a book that will be released by the Vatican's Secret Archive on 25 October.


BACKGROUND RESEARCH

The Times, "The last crusade of the Templars", page 13, 29 November 2004.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article396786.ece
    The knights want a Papal apology nearly 700 years after they were disbanded and hounded into exile
    THE VATICAN is giving “serious consideration” to apologising for the persecution that led to the suppression of the Knights Templar.
The suppression, which began on Friday , October 13, 1307, gave Friday the Thirteenth its superstitious legacy.
    A Templar Order in Britain that claims to be descended from the original Knights Templar has asked that the Pope should make the apology.
    The Templars, based in Hertford, are hoping for an apology by 2007, the 700th anniversary of the start of the persecution, which culminated with the torture and burning at the stake of the Grand Master Jacques de Molay for heresy and the dissolution of the Order by apostolic decree in 1312.
    The letter, signed by the Secretary of the Council of Chaplains on behalf of the Grand Master of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ and the Temple of Solomon Grand Preceptory, with a PO box address in Hertford, formally requests an apology “for the torture and murder of our leadership”, instigated by Pope Clement V.
    “We shall witness the 700th anniversary of the persecution of our order on 13th October 2007,” the letter says. “It would be just and fitting for the Vatican to acknowledge our grievance in advance of this day of mourning.”
    ...


The Independent, "Knights Templar seek papal apology for 700 years of persecution", 29 November 2004.
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article22425.ece
    Seven hundred years after they were denounced as heretics and condemned to torture and death, the Knights Templar are calling for a public apology from the Roman Catholic Church.
    The secretive organisation which was formed at the time of the Crusades has written to Pope John Paul II requesting that the Vatican officially atone for the persecution of the order.
    The formal request for reconciliation to the Vatican has come from an English-based sept and is signed by the "Council of Chaplains, for and on behalf of the acting Grand Master". The letter asks for "an apology from the Vatican for the persecution of our brothers of the Knights Templar and the torture and murder of our leadership, under Pope Clement V during the 14th century AD".
    The Hertfordshire-based group, one of thousands of Templar lodges around the world, is hopeful of a satisfactory outcome. "There have been some unofficial responses over the telephone and we have received certain indications from officials within the church that leaves us hopeful that an apology might be forthcoming," said a member of the order.
    ...


Guardian, "Hertford, home of the Holy Grail", 4 January 2005.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,1382899,00.html
    An ancient secret society; a demand for a papal apology; and a network of hidden tunnels. Strange things have been stirring in Hertfordshire recently. Oliver Burkeman goes in search of the Knights Templar and, perhaps, the cup of Christ
    ...

"The Insider" mailing list article, 05 October 2007.

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