A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Knights Templar

[A Templar Knight] is a truly fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly-armed, and need fear neither demons nor men. BERNARD DE CLAIRVAUX

There are many places associated with the Knights Templar along the Camino.

This order of knights was formed to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land after Jerusalem's conquest in the 1st Crusade of 1096. The knights wore white robes emblazoned with red crosses. (The red cross was a symbol of martyrdom.) They were fearless in battle. The order was structured very much like a monastic order - but with complex secret rituals and initiation rites. The knights pledged to give up all wealth and worldly goods, and took vows of poverty, chastity, piety and obedience.

Over the centuries many legends and stories have risen up round the Knights Templar. Some romanticists have thought that, amongst their religious relics, they carried the Holy Grail or a piece of the True Cross. Historical books and novels, films and computer games, have all added to the myth.

For reasons too complicated to go into here, the Knights Templar fell out of favour in the 14th century, and were condemned both by the Pope and the French king. They were tortured in order to extract false confessions. Then burnt at the stake.

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