Who We Are
The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that was founded in the 11th century. Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians traveling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for their fierceness and courage in battle.
Originally a small group of nine knights, they quickly gained fame largely due to the backing of Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard at that time was often called the Second Pope and was the chief spokesman of Christendom. He is also the one responsible for helping to draw up the order’s rules of conduct.
Within two centuries they had become powerful and influential enough to defy all but the Papal throne as they were immune from any authority except that of the Papal Throne. (Pope Innocent II exempted the Templars from all authority except the Pope.)
They were respected for their charity and sought out for their wealth. Due to their vast wealth and surplus of materials the Templars essentially invented banking, as we know it today. The church forbade the lending of money for interest, which it called usury. The Templars, changed the manner in which loans were paid and were able to skirt the issue and financed even kings.
The secret meetings and rituals of the Knights would eventually cause their downfall. The King of France, Philip the Fair used these rituals and meetings to his advantage to destroy the Knights. The real reason for his crushing the Templars was that he felt threatened by their power and immunity. In 1307, Philip, who desperately needed funds, to support his war against England’s Edward I made his move against the Knights Templar.
On October 13th, 1307, King Philip had all the Templars arrested on the grounds of heresy, since this was the only charge that would allow the seizing of their money and assets. The Templars were tortured and as a result, false confessions were given. Philip was successful in ridding the Templars of their power and wealth and urged all fellow Christian leaders to do the same thing.
On March 19, 1314, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques DeMolay was burned at the stake. DeMolay is said to have cursed Philip and Pope Clemet, uttering that each would stand before God for judgment within the year. Whether he actually uttered the curse or simply an apocryphal tale remains a controversy among Masonic scholars to this day. What does remain is the fact that Clement died only one month later and Philip, seven months later.
Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance.
Commanderies organize many social activities, including Ladies Auxiliaries, Drill Competitions, Public Divine Services, Family Picnics, Organized Trips, Dinner Parties and Entertainments, Christmas Observances, Easter Sunrise Services, and Memorial Services.
There are almost 1,600 Commanderies in communities across the United States, Germany, Italy and Mexico, with over 260,000 members. Similar bodies exist in other countries as well.