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Priory of the Knights of Christ (Templar)

The Priory for Academics, Polymaths, Philosophers,Antiquarians...

Historically, a monastic military order (Latin: Militaris ordinis) was a chivalric order established as religious societies during the medieval Crusades for protection of Christians. Prominent examples include the Knights Hospitaller, the Knights Lazarus, the Knights Templar in Outremer, as well as the Teutonic Knights in the Baltics. The Orders grew into enormous institutions, some into functional governments. Many of their customs persist in society such as the military salute, light-hand driving, systems of loyalty and honor, and even the 'traveler's checks.'

As the crusades came to an end, customs and mores of the Knightly Orders became part of the Age of Exploration. Many of the explorers of legacy were Knights and their footprints still persist in such names and locations as St. Thomas, St. Christopher, St. John, St. Martin, St. Augstine, etc. Legends of Knights spread into literature with names we still remember - Don Quixote, Joan of Arc, Ivanhoe, Richard the Lionheart, King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, etc.

Many military orders were later suppressed by the Holy See in the reformation period. However, many persisted evolving into honorific, humanitarian, and ceremonial chivalric orders with charitable and fraternal aims in modern times. Today a Western cultural heritage and legacy remains, those officially recognized by the Holy See, others parallel honorific institutions of religous adherence, others exist in continuous or revived forms among a few current and former European royal houses, others have state recognition. The legacy of the hospitallers persist as St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross, St. John of God, etc.

The "Golden Age of Fraternalism" is a term referring to a period when membership in the private societies in the United States grew at a very rapid pace in the latter third of the 19th century and continuing into the first part of the 20th. ‘Fraternal societies’ retained the honorific regalia, provided education, retained formal chivalry and ceremony, and kept a philosophy of brotherhood or mutual aid. At its peak, it was suggested that as much as 40% of the adult population held membership in at least one fraternal order. Major examples were the Freemasons, Moose International, Rosicrucians, Daughters of the Americas, and the Odd Fellows. Even the US Congress sanctioned the Knights of Pythias under Abraham Lincoln.

The Great Depression of the 1930s hurt all the fraternal orders. Government welfare programs that formed during the Progressive and New Deal eras, as well as the rise of commercialized insurance, lessened the need for the mutual aid fraternities. Some, such as the Modern Woodmen of the World, became insurance companies themselves, others morphed into secular trade unions.

As we witnessed an exploding population and migration, fraternal societies are actually making a return. Fraternal organizations are built around the idea of community, like-mindedness, and group welfare and wellness, which today can be extended by the internet. The internet has also advanced a revolution in communication. People in communities with due diligence, become so rapidly educated that they find themselves isolated.

This age of information revolution has brought light to the legacy and myths of a religious Order that literally transformed the Western world as we know it. Any institution of significance will undoubtedly create fame, legacy, and controversy. Each of the Christian military orders started with the highest ideals, but as they grew, in structure and function, mystery and intrigue undoubtedly grew with it. Beginning in the crusades of the Levant, the Templar fame grew so rapidly, it spread all over the middle east, into Christendom (europe), and even later to the New World and Africa. The history of the Templars has become for many, a lifetime study, reconstructing their history from lost records, artefacts, stories, and myth.

Of all of the military orders, it retains the highest ideals of chivalry, mystery and intrigue. The medieval order of warrior monks have captured the modern imagination. The Templars had adopted an spirituality, even a mystical one that led to disapproval of the Roman Church. For example, a Templar chapel called St. Christophe at Montsaunès, near the French border with Spain, contains astonishing frescos radically different in medieval art. The walls and ceiling are covered in stars and solar wheels, reminiscent of cabbalistic designs, the Hermetic rites, and astrology. Thus, unlike the other Orders, many of the Templars were free thinkers and heavily influenced by Eastern religious thought.


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