Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem

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Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem

The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, incorporated in Belgium in 1932, is the largest group growing out of the Neo-Templar Movement launched by Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1773-1838) in the years following the French Revolution. The Order of the Temple, commonly called the Templars, was a medieval monastic order virtually destroyed by King Philip the Fair of France and formally dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1307. The order survived for another century in Portugal, but by the beginning of the fifteenth century had completely disappeared.

However, as Speculative Freemasonry spread through Europe in the eighteenth century, a rumor developed that the order had survived in the person of knights who sought protection in the masonic guilds of Scotland and Ireland. They were the sources of the "Templar" degrees in the Masonic initiatory structure. Then, at the time of the French Revolution, some French masons began to argue that since the Templars came before Freemasonry, it was logically independent of it and hence not subordinate to it. Their cause was championed by Fabré-Palaprat, a physician residing in Paris, who claimed to have found documents proving the existence of a lineage of grand masters who continued to operate from the time of the order's official suppression to 1792 when the then-grand master was killed by political opponents. The most important of these documents was the Lamenius charter which specifies the passing of the grand mastership by the last public master, Jacques de Molay, to one John Mark Lamenius who he met in prison while awaiting his execution.

In the freer atmosphere of post-Revolutionary France, in 1804 Fabré-Palaprat organized a new Templar Order and four years later received the approbation of Napoleon. Since the Roman Catholic Church had not changed its official stance against the Templars, he also organized an esoteric Johannite church and consecrated its first bishop. After his death in 1838, the order experienced the first of many schisms. Over the next century, a number of branches and derivative groups would appear, including the German Ordo Templi Orientis and the French-based Independent Group of Esoteric Studies founded by Gérard Encausse. Among the more than 30 Neo-Templar groups operating in the 1990s was the infamous Solar Temple whose leaders committed suicide in 1994.

Fabré-Palaprat's Order of the Temple existed as an informal association until 1932, when it was legally incorporated in Belgium as the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Theodore Covais. Covais assumed the title of regent rather than grand master. Then, as Belgium was engulfed by World War II (1939-45), the regency was passed to Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes, who resided in neutral Portugal. After the war, he continued as the regent, though not without opposition from some of the French-speaking Templars. He issued charters in many countries and the order grew significantly. An American branch was chartered in 1962.

Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes died in 1960 and was succeeded by his son, Fernando Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes. However, not all approved his election and in 1970, a French-speaking group gathered in Paris where Antoine Zdrojewski was elected regent of what became a rival body. This rival body included a number of people with right-wing political affiliations. They soon involved the order in their political intrigues and it was disbanded in France in 1973. Internationally it became the source of a variety of new orders.

The order that remained loyal to Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes has grown and prospered while at the same time it has played down its occult roots. Like Freemasonry, the contemporary Templars (especially in North America) have emerged as a fraternal organization dedicated to work for their community and country, to support the poor and the unjustly accused, to stand against oppression, and to encourage the ideal of medieval chivalry. Harking back to the Templar history during the Crusades, the modern Templars see it their duty to assist Christian pilgrims and to maintain a Christian presence in the Holyland. One must be a professed Christian to be a member.

The current grand prior of the order in the United States is Col. Chev. Stewart McCarty. He may be contacted through the order's Internet site at Internationally, the order is led by the current Grand Master MG Sir Roy Redgrave, who resides in London, England. He may be contacted through the Internet site at Grand priories may be found in Austria, England and Wales, Scotland, Finland, France, and Italy.


Introvigne, Massimo. Il cappello del mago: I nuovi movimenti magici dallo spiritismo al satanismo. Milan: SugarCo, 1990.

Kovarik, Robert J. "Chronology of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem." 1977. June 11, 2000.

Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (International). June 11, 2000.

Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (United States.). June 11, 2000.

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Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem

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