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Knights Templar accepts Vatican apology for 700th anniversary of persecution

Knights get an apology from the Vatican 700 years too late

A couple of years ago, one wintry morning in Hertford, I met a mysterious man who claimed to belong to the Knights Templar. As readers of The Da Vinci Code will know, this secretive Catholic organisation had been officially disbanded in 1307 by Pope Clement V, who had accused them of being heretics and devil-worshippers; their leader, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. This Saturday, October 13, marks the 700th anniversary of the day their persecution began: Friday October 13, 1307, which may be the origin of the idea that Friday 13 is unlucky.

But the Templars didn't go away. Instead, they went underground - taking with them, it was whispered, the Holy Grail itself, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Then, in late 2004, they resurfaced. A letter arrived at the Vatican, purportedly from the Templars' grand master, insisting on the knights' innocence, and demanding an apology. The Vatican said it would give the matter "serious consideration" - but for Templar-hunters, the exciting aspect was that the letter bore a Hertford address.

A reporter at the Hertfordshire Mercury tracked down a local Templar, who explained that treasures of "immense importance" were hidden in a secret network of tunnels beneath the city, extending from the council offices, via Threshers, to Monsoon and Accessorize. Which was how I came to visit. Was the most fabled relic of Christ hidden underneath two boutiques on Market Place in Hertford?

I never found out, despite the best efforts of Gemma, the manager. But the other part of the tale has a happy ending: later this month, the Vatican will publish a book based on the Chinon parchment, a rediscovered fragment of the trial proceedings against the Templars. According to Professor Barbara Frale - who found it in the Vatican's secret archive, where it had been misfiled - it absolves the Knights Templar.

Just after the 700th anniversary of the day their troubles began, the Templars will get their apology. "We pray that, at the end of seven centuries, the soul of Jacques de Molay may now rest in peace for ever," says Ben Acheson, who describes himself as a Templar. "The Temple now considers the matter closed."

Now all that remains is to find the Holy Grail. If you need me, I'll be underneath Accessorize.


The Guardian, "Knights get an apology from the Vatican 700 years too late", 11 October 2007.


Hertfordshire Mercury, "Pope helps to absolve Templars", 12 October 2007.
    We can reveal that a letter from the Vatican was sent to the Templars earlier this month acknowledging the anniversary, which falls tomorrow.
    It is believed the letter was signed by the Pope and sent to the Templars in Hertford.
    It told of a new book due to be published by the Vatican's Secret Archives on October 25 that will restore the repŽutation of the Templars.
    A Hertford member of the Templars told the Mercury: "We pray that at the end of seven cenŽturies, the soul of Jacques de Molay may now rest in peace forever. The Temple now considers the matter closed."
    The book comes after an archives official located a scrap of the Chinon parchment, a document misfiled in the archives since the 17th century.
    Our Templar source said: "Publicly, the Vatican says the release is in response to the document being found by Prof Barbara Frale - but she found it way back in 2001.

The Insider, "Pope was investigating Knights Templar before his election", 29 April 2005.
    The new Pope, Benedict XVI, was actively investigating secret societies including the Knights Templar and the Illuminati, it was revealed yesterday. Details were exposed by a local newspaper in Hertfordshire, England.
    Cardinal Ratzinger was head of the Inquisition, the arm of the Church set up to investigate, persecute or eliminate heretics. But the curious thing is, we now know that he started his investigation shortly before he was elected as the new Pope. Did he know something? He certainly made no secret of his ambition for the Papacy.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 11 October 2007.

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Tags: Knights Templar, apology, 700, anniversary, Pope, apologised, Vatican, accepted, 13 October 2007, , conspiracy theories.

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