Just to be clear that I’m not affiliated to any particular Templar group but I’m aware that many groups visit this site and I hope it’s a place where dialogue and exchange of ideas and experience can take place. But for those of you unfamiliar with today’s Templar scene – it might be worth taking a closer look.
There are many people claiming to be Templars today from the Far Right to Mexican gangsters. Clearly, these have little to do with the original Templars.
For example, the mass killer Anders Breivik called himself a Knight Templar during his trial, in 2012, in Norway. But a medieval Knight Templar would scratch his head and wonder what a child killer acting on his own and murdering indiscriminately has to do with a group of knights fighting in the Holy Land.
The most notable Templar organisation is OSMTH – the Knights Templar International registered in Switzerland and recognised by the United Nations as having Special Consultative Status.
It describes itself as a ‘network of education professionals’ who undertake humanitarian work. There are male and female members and it believes in a ‘cosmopolitan society’. OSMTH (Facebook page here) is clearly a Christian organisation and allied to the Catholic church.
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In the United Kingdom, its representative branch is The Grand Priory of Knights Templar in England and Wales. My information may be out of date but I believe the Grand Priory sponsors a charity called Medical Aid for Iraqi Children – which would indeed be in keeping with the pilgrim protection ethos of the Templars and the medical work of the Knights Hospitaller.
The Freemason version of the Knights Templar – which claims direct descent from the original order – is The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta.
Interestingly, I found that some of the lodges in this order are relaxed about saying that no evidence exists to prove a link to the Knights Templar but that they follow the Templar rule and live according to their philosophy.
Here is the Sussex lodge and the East Anglia lodge in England. Members of this masonic organisation must be proposed by two other masons and must be Royal Arch Masons. As of late 2011, here are a list of lodges in the Netherlands.
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On the subject of Royal Arch Masons – there is an organisation for Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests and you can click here to visit the United States website.
The Militia Templi is a lay organisation of the Catholic church founded by Count Marcello Alberto Cristofani della Magione in 1979 under the direction of the Archbishop of Siena. It tends to reject the form of mass adopted after the 1960s Vatican II council in favour of the older Tridentine Mass.
They follow the Templar rule laid down by Bernard of Clairvaux and their “Protector” at this time is the Abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert, located in New Mexico, USA. The global headquarters is in Italy at the Castello della Magione in Poggibonsi.
The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem is a Florida based organisation.
In its own words, it “seeks to emulate the chivalric and charity traditions of the original Templars; its members apply themselves energetically and selflessly to Christian charitable endeavours”. This organisation is ecumenical but strictly Christian and is not associated with Freemasonry.
It’s campaigned for the rights of Iraqi Christians and given donations to the Franciscans, Lutherans, Armenian Patriarchate, Greek Orthodox and Anglicans in Jerusalem – all of whom are involved in running different historical sites (see blog posts here on my visits this year to Jerusalem).
The Grand Commandery of Knights Templar, based in London, advocates research in to the medieval period – much as we do here – and a life of spirituality. Mark Borrington is the current Grand Master and Graham Craddy is the Seneschal.
If you believe the Templars were guardians of gnostic secrets – for example that God was indeed a Goddess (and my forthcoming book Quest for the True Cross will touch on these beliefs) – then the Ancient Gnostic Order of Knights of the Temple will be for you. The International Order of Gnostic Templars might also be worth a look.
Facebook has thrown up a huge number of Templar related organisations including the French Ordre du Saint Esprit Templier and the Portuguese Os Cavaleiros da Cruz Azul. Some are just interested in Templar history, others are very Catholic in outlook and some groups seek the restoration of monarchy in Europe and so on.
Finally – and I was dreading this – I have blogged before about the far right and its pseudo-Templar nonsense. AOTK is the organisation to avoid in my view. Though it claims to have never been linked with Anders Breivik – a man who killed children as young as fourteen – he asserts that he had links with various organisations and defence leagues. I’m hoping this is a murky political underworld that most of you have no wish to make contact with.
READ MORE: Top ten heresies against the Catholic church
To truly immerse yourself in the world of the original Knights Templar – purchase my Templar adventure Quest for the True Cross on Amazon.