We know today that school and religion are separate entities and are not to be combined in public education. However, things can be interpreted differently when it comes to church and the military. There are aspects of worship permitted with regards to American soldiers and even with the terrorist group ISIS as they consider themselves to be soldiers of God. What about in American history where some wonder if this combination existed centuries ago. Those who take an in-depth look back in our history will find such examples going back to the 12th century. Pope Honorius II grants a papal sanction on January 13th, 1128 to the military order known as the Knights Templar; this was a declaration that this was an army of God.
Frenchman Hughes de Payens was the leader of the Knights Templar organization as it was established in 1118. Their self-imposed goal was to defend Christian pilgrims during the Crusades as they journeyed to the Holy Land; this was a series of expeditions by the military with the purpose of defeating Muslims in Palestine. The name of the Templar’s came from where their headquarters were located which was Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Originally, membership of the Templar’s had only reached nine individuals mostly for the rigid rules that they followed. Besides being required to be of noble birth, knights were made to take strict vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This changed in 1127 as different promotional efforts persuaded an increase of more noblemen to enlist in the order; this gradually increased their influence and size.
Although knights individually were unable to possess property, such restrictions placed on the organization as a whole was different; this led to many wealthy Christians over the years to donate valuables and areas of land in support of the Knights Templar. By the time of the early 14th century arriving, the Crusades at ended unsuccessfully for them; however, the order had expanded their wealth which provoked jealousy of both secular powers and religion. This would prove to be their downfall in 1307 as Pope Clement and King Philip IV of France had joined forces to take down the Knights Templar.
They arrested the grand master Jacques de Molay on charges of Satanism, heresy and sacrilege. Molay and other leaders of the Templar’s had confessed under torture and eventually were burned at the stake. Clement ended the Templar’s in 1312 while assigning their monetary assets and property to a rival order known as the Knights Hospitalers. Actually, Philip and King Edward II, his English counterpart, acquired the majority of the wealth once they banned from their respectable countries the organization.
Present-day Catholic Church has admitted the persecution of the Knights Templar was unjust and admitted that Pope Clement dissolved the order under pressure by secular leaders. The centuries have yielded to legends and myths regarding the Templar’s have increased which includes the belief that they may have found at Temple Mount Holy relics; this includes the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant and parts of a cross said to have come from Christ’s crucifixion. These imaginary secrets regarding the Templar’s have created various movies and books which include the blockbuster film and novel The Da Vinci Code.