The Knights Templar are demanding that the Vatican give them back their good name and, possibly, billions in assets into the bargain, 700 years after the order was brutally suppressed by a joint venture between the Pope and the King of France.
If the Holy See doesn’t comply, the warrior knights, renowned for liberating the Holy Land, will deploy that most fearsome of weapons: a laborious court case through the creaking Spanish legal system.
The Daily Telegraph reports that The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has launched a court case in Spain, demanding Pope Benedict “recognise” the seizure of assets worth €100bn. The Spanish-based group of Templars apparently says in a statement: "We are not trying to cause the economic collapse of the Roman Catholic Church, but to illustrate to the court the magnitude of the plot against our Order." This might come as a surprise to those who believe that the order of warrior monks – also credited with possessing the Holy Grail and laying the foundation of the European banking system - was smashed in 1307 by Pope Clement V and Philip IV of France.
At the time, the order was accused of a multitude of crimes, including two medieval biggies - sodomy and heresy.
However, recently discovered Vatican papers showed that the order had never been declared heretics, burnings at the stake for the leadership not withstanding.
Rather, it appeared that the order’s suppression was more a piece of realpolitik on the pope’s part to pacify Philip, who was somewhat irked by the prospect of the powerful order increasing its continental activities after Jerusalem fell to the Turks.
Despite the order’s brutal apparent suppression, its legacy has been claimed by numerous successor organisations, and besmirched by popular authors ad nauseum.
One of the successors, Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, is apparently recognised by Unesco.
We contacted the UK branch, otherwise known as the The Grand Priory of Knights Templar in England and Wales, to see if they could throw any light on the matter but they have yet to get back to us.
The Grand Priory’s website says the modern organisation is about humanitarian and charity work. There is no mention of the Holy Grail, though it does support the maintenance of the Holy Places.
And if you’re looking for esoteric rites or secret higher knowledge, you’re likely to be disappointed. The website says: “Please don’t expect to be enlightened with some supposed ‘secret’ knowledge, because nothing exists.”
Of course, any conspiracy theorist will tell you that’s exactly what you’d expect them to say. ®