The Controversial Chinon Parchment &
Saint Jacques de Molay
The last ‘public’ Grand Master of the Knights Templar, during what I term as their ‘historic era’ was Jacques de Molay who perished in flames 14th March of 1314.
The Templar’s went underground rather than allow the opposition to disband the chivalric order. They knew a major attack was coming and their world would now exist in secret…
Jacques de Molay allowed himself to be arrested, along with a skeleton crew of Templar Knights on 13th October 1307. Friday the 13th became dreaded as the unluckiest, most dangerous of days, in the calendar year of the western hemisphere. But the Templars would have the last laugh…
Those arresting the Grand Master at the Paris Temple found no gold, jewels or other wealth dreamt of by their captors. To their frustration, it had all disappeared along with the Templar fleet at La Rochelle during the dark hours of the night before.
We mustn’t forget that their ranks were from the noble families of Europe, except for support positions which came from many levels of society. Templars understood the role of a secular prince as well as understanding the princes of the church.
Therefore, as the greatest organizers of large estates, the Templars actually were a threat. They were considering slicing off southern France as their own gnostic state. Convenient, as this would have included all Cathar country and the known Magdalene world.
How did the Templars find out about the imminent attack? A question debated down the centuries and one I discuss at length in my book, The Secret Dossier of a Knight Templar of the Sangreal.
The disappearance of the Templar riches, both mystical in nature and of gold, set into motion one of the greatest ongoing treasure hunts in history. One such modern expedition can be seen through the lens of a camera, on the TV documentary series called, The Curse of Oak Island, where the Lagina brothers are following in the steps of the Templars.
The last Grand Master knew he was being lured to Paris under false pretenses, ostensibly as a pallbearer for the funeral of the King’s sister-in-law. His nemeses had been concocting ways to take ‘all’ over the course of a few years’ time, slowly, then picking up pace with greater threat & audacity.
Jacques was accused, tortured and maligned, but he did not give up his convictions, his brothers or his precious vows. The Templar Order had been accused en masse of a handy litany of crimes designed to shock the general public, as only true outrage would cause the greater population to turn against the Knights.
The Inquisition was brought in to find any and all dirt and failing that just made it up. In fact, many of the charges were identical to those used against the Cathars, witches and other unfortunates straight out of a manual, written for the purpose of torture & confession!
There were odd exceptions that have caused much debate however. Under torture, much is admitted, reliable or not. Spitting on the cross and venerating a head were just a few of the mysterious admissions by the Templars.
However, the princes of other nations gave shelter to the Templars as only a fool would turn their back on the trusted battled experienced brethren. These men were a real asset to any king who understood their worth.
De Molay allowed himself to be drawn into the trap out of duty and love of the Order which he had been a part of since the age of 21. Now a proud 72-year-old statesman, and by all accounts a grandfather to many, he had been in service for almost half a century. His hope had been that the Pope would save the Order and protect them from the King of France.
(Marker at the site of Jacques de Molay’s execution in Paris. (Translation: At this location, Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burned on 18 March 1314), located by the stairs from the Pont-Neuf bridge. The top half of this photo shows the part of the island where the executions took place. The lower half shows the plaque, which is on one of the pillars of the bridge, behind the trees.)
The Pope was the only man that the Templars reported to, he having ultimate authority over their actions. The Templars did not hold allegiance to a kingdom or king up to the time of the arrests. This made them a potential threat to actual secular kings and their kingdoms.
Pope Clement had been placed into office by the King of France, Philip le Bel.
The absolute monarch had kidnapped the prior Pope! Though the abducted Pope had been rescued, the poor man died of stress soon after, leaving the field clear for Clement. The Vatican was then moved to France where the King could manipulate his new holy office through a puppet. He was now the most powerful man in France and potentially Europe.
But Philip had failed to gain control of the Templars. He was refused admittance, but also wished to be their Grand Master! Failing that, he had tried to blend both the Knights of St. John with the Templars, placing himself at their head. Blocked at every turn and owing the Templars significant amounts of money due to foreign wars, Philip then decided to move against the Templar Knight Order on 13th October 1307.
Philips prisoner, Jacques de Molay, was brought out in chains and told to make a public admission of guilt. Once in front of the crowd, the Grand Master recanted all that was pulled out of him during seven years of torture and imprisonment. An infuriated Philip had de Molay sentenced to death by fire within hours along with two senior knights.
2001 Vs. 2007
“The Vatican researcher, Dr. Barbara Frale, has discovered what is being called the Chinon Parchment, named after the castle where the Templars were imprisoned in Southern France. She discovered it had been misfiled in the 17th century and utterly forgotten. It is a pardon signed by Pope Clement in 1308 after secret interrogations with de Molay and a few other knights on charges of heresy, absolving the Order, declaring them innocent.
He never publicized the document nor used it against Philip. At some point early on he changed his mind and decided to betray those in his charge, concerned it seems more for his own life than the lives of the many.
The Chinon Parchment was brought into public light with all fanfare due a visiting head of state. Though the parchment had been found in 2001 its official debut was 12 October 2007 which marked the 700th anniversary of the arrests. “This is proof that the Templars were not heretics,” said Dr. Frale. “The Pope was obliged to ask pardon from the knights.”…and continued with….”For 700 years we have believed that the Templars died as cursed men, and this absolves them.”
What a shame that no Pope in the last 700 years thought it honourable to absolve the knightly order. Later Popes who knew the Templars still existed made no attempt to clear their name.
Despite my own suspicion over the timing of this weak olive branch I am pleased it was made public for the memory of the supposed ‘cursed men’ who died horribly.
The might of the modern Vatican surely need not rest on a dusty signed document by a Pope who had shown little courage, while bringing down his own knightly order, men who had left such valuable contributions to society and under his protection.
Her book and surrounding pomp and ceremony does seem to indicate broader political interests at heart in regards to the modern-day popularity of the neo and hereditary Templar Orders. Is this statement by the Church an indication they have a diplomatic interest in bringing the Templars back into the fold?
It seems as if the modern Catholic Church is wishing to be inclusive to the memory of the Templar Order, but at the same time white-washing Clement V’s character reducing his part in the Knights’ downfall as a way of gaining innocence by proxy.
It is a shame that the Church felt it needed to absolve Clement V in order and to give credence to the Chinon Parchment. Many Medieval Popes were deeply flawed and their atrocious behaviour could be seen as par for the course and culture of the time – are we not past this even today?
It seems not, if continued scandals of mismanagement and that of pedophile priests are anything to go by, surely their house is in need of a serious review which takes courage, and courage that I would admire should the powers at be in Rome ever decide to develop.
It is quite simple to see that the Templars were victims of outright greed and false accusations. Was it indeed necessary for the modern church to align itself with Clement V rather than using a reasonable approach to review the absurdity of the Trial and pronounce the Templar Order as innocent? At any point in the past 700 years?
Would this have called into question the still extant Inquisition who hunted Templars? Recently given a soft name change – the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – and their violent role in the proceedings against the Templars?
Perhaps it was easier to absolve Clement V than to raise sticky questions as to the guilt of the Inquisition and the Church’s current though obvious outmoded need of this so called Holy Office?
A public apology for the torture and murder of the Templars at the hands of an organisation still in use would be quite awkward indeed. Best to focus on Clement V safely long dead to remove any heat on the heinous and modern Inquisition.
The Chinon Parchment provided a quick and simple way of addressing the issue. It truly is appropriate that the Catholic Church publish the Chinon Parchment and officially absolve the Knights Templar.”
(The above excerpts are quoted from –
The Secret Dossier of a Knight Templar of the Sangreal)
At the time I wrote the above for the Secret Dossier, I was not aware of a secondary Chinon Document. Released to the public by Etienne Baluze in 1693 and again in 1751, it seems as if others were trying to exonerate the Templars. The ‘other parchment’ was written by cardinals and addressed to Phillip of France. Absolution had been granted as long as the Templars confessed and were ‘restored to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church’.
The need to publish the document for the general public was due to the lack of interest on the part of the Church to exonerate the Templars in the 17th and 18th centuries.
It is interesting that another document existed, but more so – the date on that document! 20th of August, the feast day of St. Bernard de Clairvaux! The father of the Templars, the venerator of the Black Madonna and the man who rescued the failing Cistercian order.
I would like to put forward that the Grand Master, Jaques de Molay, be not only pardoned but made a saint.
Saint Jacques de Molay, died for his faith, his brothers and the Order which he served for decades. He died cruelly, not at the hands of justice, but that of avarice and greed, through a Pope, falsely placed by the murder of the duly elected Pope, by a soulless and materialist king. Clement was not morally fit to hold office, his royal sponsor, without question, a shameless murderer. Pardon Clement if you must, in order to spare the dignity of the church he represented, but to recognize De Molay as a Saint is just.
I believe that the modern Vatican has the desire to progress, both scientifically and with human rights at its core. The current Pope Francis is forward-thinking and also of action. Great compassion has been shown towards human life by rescuing countless immigrants from the sea, just to name one area where leadership from the top has engendered action from the worthy hands of the many who follow the Pope.
Pope Frances has also shown leadership by asking the Christian world to partake of the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, as a true Saint and follower of Christ. So many around the world still believe she is a prostitute due to the mistranslation of the Bible by a prior Pope. The current Pope has made it very clear that this is not the case and to celebrate her life on 22nd July – for which I am grateful.
I can’t think of her feast day without thinking directly of St. Bernard de Clairvaux who loved her so very much.
What day shall be your day, Saint Jacques de Molay? The 20th of August?
Hand in hand with the great man who created the Knights Templar, Saint Bernard de Clairvaux
20th August 2017