(Shelbyville, IN) On October 13, 2007 it will have been 700 years ago that the medieval Knights Templer, the richest and most powerful order of knights in the world, were arrested all across France by King Phillip IV.
Now a group of Indiana Freemasons known as the Knights Templar will commemorate the event in a ceremony on Saturday, October 13, 2007 in Shelbyville, Indiana, dressed in medieval chain mail, helmets and tunics, and brandishing broadswords like their medieval counterparts.
Many claim the arrest of the Templars is why Friday the 13th is considered to be unlucky – a phobia called by the unwieldy name paraskavedekatriaphobia.
Originally formed in Jerusalem at the end of the first Crusade by just nine French knights, within 200 years the Templars rose to become the first international bankers and the most powerful and influential force in Europe and the Holy Land. But on that fateful Friday the 13th in October 1307, the Order was destroyed.
France’s King Phillip IV ordered the Knights to be arrested and tortured into admitting to lurid accusations of heresy, while a weak pope, Clement V, looked on helplessly.
Most historians agree today that Phillip was simply out to steal the Templars’ vast wealth, and invented the charges of heresy as an excuse. That view seems to be shared by the modern-day Vatican.
The Vatican took this anniversary week of the Templars’ arrests to announce they would soon publish a book based on a long lost document that shows Pope Clement V secretly exonerated the order of heresy in 1308.
Renewed awareness of the Knights Templar has come from their mention in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven, but the Freemasons have had their own group called the Knights Templar since the 1700’s, according to Christopher Hodapp, co-author of The Templar Code For Dummies. Hodapp, who is a member of Levant Preceptory, says that new interest in the Templars and the Masons is growing among younger men. “Fans that have grown up with tales of Lord of the Rings and Jedi Knights are looking for something comparable in real life that is legendary, and mythical. You don’t get much larger than life than the true story of the Templars.”
The greatest mystery of the Templars is the whereabouts of their legendary treasure. Phillip claimed he never found it, and wild speculation has existed for centuries as to its whereabouts. Some say escaping Templars sailed to Scotland and formed what became the Freemasons, burying their treasure underneath legendary Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh. Others believe it may be at the bottom of a deep pit on Oak Island, Nova Scotia. The movie National Treasure claimed it was in a vault hidden beneath a churchyard off Wall Street.
The modern Templars of Levant Preceptory won’t be talking about treasure on this October 13th. “Concepts of chivalry, like faith, hope and charity, never really go out of style,” says Hodapp, “and that’s what we’re really celebrating.”
The event will be at the Messick Masonic Temple, 519 S. Harrison, Shelbyville, IN at 7:00PM. It is open to the public.
Levant Preceptory is a medieval reenactment group within Raper Commandery No. 1 Knights Templar in Indianapolis, and a part of the family of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Indiana.
- For more information about Levant Preceptory, see their website at www.levantpreceptory.com
- For more about the Knights Templar of Indiana, see www.knightstemplarindiana.com
- For more about the Freemasons of Indiana, see www.indianafreemasons.com
- For more about The Templar Code For Dummies, see www.templarcodefordummies.com