Does the secret Chinon parchment exonerate the Knights Templar as claimed?

Clement
Did this pope really exonerate the Knights Templar?

Astonishingly, the Vatican sat on key documents relating to the trial of the Knights Templar for seven hundred years until author and Vatican archivist Barbara Frale uncovered the so-called Chinon Parchment and made her discovery public in 2001. This was followed in 2007 by the Vatican’s belated release of the original trial documents.

However, contrary to what many people think, the parchment and trial account are not an exoneration of the order by the pope of that time – far from it!

Back in 1307, the Knights Templar had reached a bit of a low ebb. The crusades were failing. The Holy Land was lost. Cyprus was their main eastern stronghold.

So, the last Grand Master – Jacques De Molay – headed west to drum up interest in a new crusade. But by this time, the medieval public had gone down with a severe case of crusade fatigue. Regaining Jerusalem – surrendered to Islam over a century before – looked like a total lost cause.

Add to that a mercurial king of France, Philip the Fair, who was continuously short of money. He’d shaken down the Jews, Lombards and monasteries and now cast a greedy eye over the Templars. Weren’t they loaded? Only one way to find out.

So, in 1307 he rounded the Templars up, locked the knights in dungeons where they were tortured to sign false confessions and headed for the Paris Temple, a massive fortress, to fill his boots with Templar loot. Needless to say, he found nothing. The money had gone.

In order to assault the Templars, the king had to sell this drastic action to his people with a tsunami of fake news about the order. The knights were sorcerers, heretics, sodomites, rebels, robbers and so on. These accusations needed a holy seal of approval and luckily for Philip there was a compliant French pope at hand, Clement V, to give the thumbs up.

For seven years, the pope and his cardinals questioned Jacques De Molay and other senior Templars to squeeze confessions out of them. De Molay had returned to France in good faith to raise money and recruits for a new crusade but now found himself in court fighting for his life. At times, he broke down and admitted to the king’s trumped up charges but then recovered his nerve and tore up his previous statements.

There was only one way this appalling farce was going to end and in 1314, De Molay was burnt at the stake with two other Templars as heretics who had refused to recant. And so it might have rested. But clearly the church felt more than a pang of guilt at destroying a military order that had shown nothing but unswerving loyalty to its Catholic mission and the pope. The Chinon Parchment shows how the pope wrestled with his conscience.

Frale’s discovery of this stunning document might look like a complete exoneration of the Templars by the papacy. But it’s not. In a rather mealy-mouthed way, it lets the knights off the heresy hook but damns them on other charges. It certainly casts doubt on the way in which their dissolution was conducted and reveals a pope who was bitterly unhappy at being strong armed into this course of action.

Interestingly, it airs the Templar justification for one of its more curious practices – that of spitting on the crucifix. The order claimed that this prepared knights for being captured by the Muslim enemy. Attempts by the Saracens to break their will in captivity through acts of sacrilege could be resisted by the imprisoned Templars because they had already role played this kind of scenario.

Frale has also claimed that the Vatican archive contains evidence that the worship of a head may not have been a profane and pagan activity but a veneration of the body of Jesus. It’s often assumed that the head referred to was variously that of John the Baptist or the prophet Mohammed (if you think the Templars were secretly in league with the Saracens!) or even a cat. But Frale thinks it might have been a representation of the Messiah.

However, the Templars are not given a seal of approval anywhere in the Chinon Parchment. The pope seems to have absolved the Templars without exonerating them. Maybe this gave them a papal passport to heaven but it still meant they were going to be burnt to death first.

It’s hard to imagine this gave them much comfort as their bones were broken in torture chambers and their bodies consumed by fire.

 

 

Was Jacques De Molay really the last Grand Master of the Templars?

In 1314, on an island in the middle of the river Seine in Paris, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar – Jacques de Molay – was burnt at the stake. His agonising death ended an incredible two centuries old order of warrior monks – brought down by a money grabbing French king and a craven, gutless Pope. The Templars were no more.

Or is that really the truth?

Not according to an awful lot of people out there. Ever since De Molay breathed his last, rumours and stories have abounded to suggest the Templars continued in some or other guise. One of the most curious is that De Molay verbally appointed another Grand Master before he was executed. This was a man called Johannes Marcus Larmenius.

In February, 1324 – ten years after the death of De Molay – Larmenius, a Templar born in Outremer, issued a charter claiming that he was the rightful Grand Master. But now in his seventies, the old man wanted to transfer this onerous responsibility to younger shoulders. He proposed that the next Grand Master should be Franciscus Theobaldus – who was still in charge of a Templar institution of some sort in Alexandria, Egypt.

Bernard
Palaprat – charlatan or Templar Grand Master?

This began a phase of underground activity in the history of the Templars. Grand Masters continued to be appointed but very much out of the public eye. That was until a chap called Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat revealed the existence of the Larmenius Charter, in the year 1804, that included his name as the latest of 22 successive Grand Masters.

Needless to say there was some scepticism about Palaprat’s extraordinary boast that he owned a ‘charter of transmission’ – as he termed it – written by Larmenius and naming him as the current Grand Master. But Palaprat was not to be dismissed so easily. He produced the sword of Jacques De Molay and some of his charred bones. Everything he said was true – how dare anybody question him!

At a time when France has experienced a revolution; a century of Enlightenment thought; the undermining of traditional church and royal authority and the emergence of the Freemasons – it’s perhaps not surprising that somebody like Palaprat emerged. He was feverishly mixing bits of the Templars with gnosticism, Freemasonry and an unswerving loyalty to Napoleon. It was an eclectic hodge-podge that suited the times.

The French revolution of 1789 had briefly replaced Catholicism with a cult of the Supreme Being. Now, Palaprat used his status as Grand Master to launch a new Templar order and later what was termed a Johannite church. His religion had its own version of the bible, loosely based on the gospel of John, and a belief that Jesus had been initiated into ancient Egyptian rites.

Few believe the Larmenius Charter was authentic or that he even existed. Today, the document can be viewed in London as a curiosity.

 

 

Knights Templar demand Vatican apology for executions

The Italian chapter of the Knights Templar has written to Pope Benedict XVI demanding that he apologize for the unlawful suppression of the Order and the burning of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay.   The action by the chapter was reported by the Daily Telegraph and Catholic Culture.   De Molay was burnt before Notre Dame in the year 1314 and although the French king was seen as the prime instigator behind the tortures and executions of Templar leaders, Pope Clement V was the man who sanctified it.  He also ordered other kingdoms to follow the example of France.  The pope may have been under tremendous pressure from the French king but today’s Templars think that’s no excuse to let the Vatican off the hook.

Could the Turin Shroud be the face of a Knight Templar?

150225083918-finding-jesus-shroud-1-00001125-super-169It’s a four metre long piece of cloth with the imprint of a man from the front and the back. For centuries this ancient fabric has been revered as the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Kept in Turin cathedral, it has been worshipped by millions of pilgrims.

Modern detractors and sceptics have poured cold water on the notion that it could be the shroud of Jesus. Carbon dating placed the date of the material between 1260 and 1380 CE, a long time after the crucifixion.

Historians like Charles Freeman think the church has backed itself into a corner that it could have avoided. He believes that in the medieval period, when the the shroud originated, people knew what it was – a prop for a play performed at Easter. Originally, it would have been much more brightly coloured with a Christ covered in bloody wounds – a gory depiction of Jesus that became more popular in the 14th century.

The shroud has passed through different hands and the myth of its origin has grown to the point of absurdity in Freeman’s view. This has got the point where scientists at the Politecnico di Torino tried to argue that it truly dated from the death of Jesus and the imprint was caused by a release of neutrons as a result of an earthquake in 33 CE – giving us the exact image of Jesus.

But this leaves us with the conundrum that the material in the shroud dates from the Middle Ages, long after the death of Christ. In a book called ‘The Second Messiah: Templars, the Turin Shroud and the Great Secret of Freemasonry‘, a theory is advanced to explain this.

The shroud is not Jesus. The shroud is in fact the image of the last Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay. The bloody imprints are the marks of the torture he endured at the hands of the King of France and the Pope in 1314. But why the certainty that it’s De Molay and not somebody else tortured and killed in the fourteenth century? The evidence advanced includes links between those families that owned the shroud for centuries and the Templars.