The article appeared the Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA
We are surrounded by sayings and superstitions that even though we feel they are of modern origin they are in fact hundreds or thousands of years old. Not crossing a Black Cat’s path instills caution when walking on a sidewalk and the welcomed superstition of not working on January 1st are examples of age old misconceptions that we live with in our society. One superstition that I have all ways found fascinating was Friday the 13th and would joke about the date when it approached. Then when Apollo 13 took off at 13:13 en-route to the moon and proceeded to become the closest total loss of a moon-bound space ship; I raised my eye brows…with a smile.
In 1119, after the first crusades to take over the holy lands from the Muslims, a French nobleman selected eight knights from his family and formed an order to protect pilgrims during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They set up the order on the Temple Mount in Jeruselum. The center of the mount is known as the Dome of the Rock or commonly called throughout time as the Holies of Holies. These knights were housed in the Al Aqsa Mosque which was assumed to be on the site of the Temple of Solomon. The religious significance of this small order was apparent from its; beginning. They became known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. This was shortened to “Knights Templars”.
Several years after being formed the order was sanctioned by the “church” in Europe and the rise was very swift. Fundraising guaranteed safe passage to Jerusalem for pilgrims and a place in Heaven for the donor. Land, money and the sons of nobles were asked for by the Templars and was received. Men that joined the order as knights were required to vow obedience, chastity, piety and poverty, plus turn over all material goods to the order. The Knight’s order grew and donations grew.
The Knights Templars were the elite fighting force of their time. They were well trained, well armed and well disciplined. Their oath did not allow them to retreat unless they were outnumbered three to one.
After the exclusive fighting force was in place, the order began to gain power from its rapidly growing wealth. The Knights Templar was considered to be a group of poor monks which meant that they lived a simple life. However they grew very wealthy from donations. Then they became a sort of bank and provided loans. When many noblemen left for the crusades they would turn over their property to the Templars to protect it until return if they did return.
At its’ height the Knights Templars held large tracts of land, enormous amounts of other wealth, was making large amounts of money from its’ banking, maintained an army with as many as 5,000 horses and was highly respected by the church and feared by the Muslim armies of the East. It owned its’ own fleet of ships as well as the island of Cypress. But all things must come to an end.
The Muslim army under Saladin began to win battles and territories. Eventually the Holy Land fell and the Knights Templars moved its’ headquarters to Cyprus. Their significance was in question since their ability to function as an effective military unit was no longer pertinent. However, the financial power of the order was immense. They had a large standing army and a decree by the Pope had allowed them to move across country borders unopposed. King Phillip of France was becoming more concerned with the power of the Templars and the headquarters was now on French soil. Many governments were heavily in debt to the Templar Order.
French King Phillip issued orders to have the Templar leaders arrested. On this fateful day the leaders were taken and tortured into confessions. This series of arrests and torture, confessions and executions, hiding and disbandment of military units meant the end of the Knights Templar. And this destruction of the noble order began with the arrests in France of Templar leadership on Friday 13th, 1307. So resounding was this date that today Friday the 13th is still considered to be unlucky.
Stories of what happened to the Templar Treasure hold a fascination with us today. The movie National Treasure is based on the Templar Treasure. Stories of treasure being on Oak Island in Canada has led to millions of dollars in investments and six accidental deaths looking for the lost treasure. There are rumors that the Templar treasure even consisted of the Holy Grail.

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