September 3, 2012

If Only They Could Have Imagined

A new knighthood has appeared in the land of the Incarnation, a knighthood that fights a double battle against adversaries of flesh and blood and also against the spirit of evil. This new knighthood is worthy of all the praise given to men of God. The knight who protects his soul with the armor of faith, as he covers his body with a coat of mail, is truly without fear and above reproach. Doubly armed he fears neither men nor demons.

~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Laude Novae Militiae

Seal of the Templars
Image from the Wikimedia Commons
The first master of the Order of the Knights Templar, Hugh of Payens, came from Jerusalem to France to obtain the approval of the new order, and with this objective he went to his friend, the future St. Bernard, then the abbot of Clairvaux, the most influential person in Christendom. And he fulfilled his purpose very well, in fact, in response to repeated requests from his friend—“Three times, if I do not mistake, have you beseeched me, my beloved Hugh, to write for you and your companions in arms a sermon that would raise your spirits” (quoted in Americo Castro’s The Spaniards: An Introduction to Their History)—Bernard wrote the document De Laude Novae Militiae (In Praise of the New Knighthood). And as a result the rule of the new order was approved by the Council of Troyes in 1128.

Of course neither Hugh of Payens nor the abbot Bernard of Clairvaux would have ever imagined that one day, some two centuries later, King Philip the Fair—grandson of St. Louis of France—had engineered the election of the pope and the relocation of the papal court to Avignon, with what this would mean for the Knights Templar... What a wonderful story, that of the Knights of the Temple, but what a sad end!

Oh, I almost forgot, if you want to learn more about the whole thing, then read this article by Christopher Check in Catholic Answers Magazine: “The Sad History of the Knights Templar.”

1 comment:

  1. We went to a Knights Templar Inauguration last year, you may have seen the blog post, it was fascinating.