Monday, January 27, 2014

Vatican Revelation of Templar's Innocence : Upholds Ideals of the Order of DeMolay

By Zaldy Geonzon

During the medieval age Europe, a religious order - Knights Templar - was disbanded and its leaders executed for concocted charges that included dissension against the church.  Its last Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was burnt at stake in Paris in 1314 upon orders of King Philip the Fair of France.  For the next seven centuries, the Templars were labelled as heretics but in 2007 the Vatican revealed their innocence after discovery of archives that Pope Clement V had exonerated the order of heresy (Vatican Ancient Archive, 2007).  This revelation upholds the ideals of the Order of DeMolay, a youth order established by Freemasons about a hundred years ago.

The DeMolay organization was founded on the inherent belief of innocence of Jacques DeMolay and adopted as a namesake of the youth order for his virtue of fidelity and chivalry.  The fraternity's time-tested initiation rites depict the 14th century trial and torture of Templar members by agents of King Philip.  Grand Master DeMolay defied all the charges as he refused to reveal whereabouts of his Brethren and its "secrets".  Before he was sent to the flames, he challenged his accusers to "meet him before the judgement of God".

It took however, 700 years for the judgement of innocence unveiled to the public through Vatican's 799-page publication of the 14th century inquisition.  Without any doubt, "Jacques DeMolay, died as a martyr to truth and fidelity, but today the ideals for which he gave his life are being perpetuated by young men the world over who are members of the Order of DeMolay" (DeMolay Handbook, 1967).

The Medieval Past - Revisited 

The Knights of Templar was founded in 1118, by nine warrior-Knights after Jerusalem was captured by Christian forces during the First Crusade.  Their mission was to secure the road to Jerusalem and protect pilgrims in the holy land.  The Pope recognized them as its military religious order and granted exemption from taxes.   For the next 200 years - with noble cause - the order grew in strength and stature as they attracted donations of wealth and membership from noble families.  They expanded overseas and engaged in commercial shipping loaded with pilgrims and merchandise.  Their primitive banking as well as loans to traders and monarchs attained them a status comparable to modern day World Bank combined with missionary role of today's International Red Cross (Baigent, et. al., 1989).

When Jerusalem was captured by Islamic forces in 1291, the Knights also lost their cause - and popularity of the crusades declined.  The order however, continued its overseas financial influence which incurred the ire of King Philip.  In 1307, Philip ordered massive arrest of Templars for fabricated charges of corruption and heresy.  Pope Clement in 1312 had also withdrawn recognition of the order that caused secular rulers in Europe to sequester Templar properties in their territories.  In France, the Templars were executed on 18 March 1314 upon orders of Philip.

Some 605 years later on death anniversary of Jacques DeMolay, nine young men in USA, met with a Masonic Temple to form a youth order later known as the Order of DeMolay.

The Youth Order and the Freemasons

The International Order of DeMolay was founded on 18 March 1919 in Kansas City, USA by Frank Sherman Land, Director of Social Services of Scottish Rite Freemasons.  Frank Marshall, another prominent Mason, crafted its "ritual of secret works" where members conducted its solemn rites in a Lodge room.  A DeMolay "active" chapter can only exist upon sponsorship by a Masonic body.  During initiation, youth members dedicated themselves to the Order's Seven Cardinal Virtues of filial love, reverence for sacred things, courtesy, comradeship, fidelity, cleanliness and patriotism.  Chapter activities and ceremonies are undertaken in observance of these virtues.

From North America, the Order expanded to Latin America, Asia, Australia, Europe and other territories under the auspices of Masonic Grand Lodges or bodies.  The Order is governed by its International Supreme Council comprised by prominent Masons and Senior DeMolays with headquarters located in its own building in Kansas City.  Since 1919 to present, the Order has initiated about 4 million members worldwide with "active" and "alumni" chapters present in 25 countries.

Membership to DeMolay is restricted to young men from 13 to 21 years old (Active status) and once a member reaches 22 years old he becomes a Senior DeMolay.  Some DeMolays later landed in prominent positions in our society like - Austronaut Neil Armstrong, Actor John Wayne, film producer Walt Disney, US President Bill Clinton and countless political figures in Canada, Philippines, Brazil and other countries.

While DeMolay membership does not automatically become a Mason, the Order of DeMolay is a youth base for future Masons.  Senior DeMolays later petitioned with Lodges in various Masonic jurisdictions in the world.  In Western, Australis, DeMolay-Masons are affiliated with Murray Lodge (Madurah), Kalamunda, Wellington (Bunburry), and in other Australian Lodges.

Historical Milestones

Vatican's exoneration of the Templar will be an important historical milestone for DeMolay fraternity.  The revelation of innocence adds lustre and meaning to the teachings of the Order of DeMolay as the Order faces growth and global challenge of the 21st century.

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This is an article submitted to "Freemasons WA" (Issue Spring 2013), official publication of Grand Lodge of Western  Australia.  Author, Bro. Zaldy Geonzon, is a member of Murray Lodge 69, WAC;  Raised a Master Mason in 2001, Iligan Lodge 207; Initiated in 1979, Order of DeMolay, Tomas Cabili ChapterPhotos used are scanned from the magazine source.


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    For GOD, For Country, For DeMolay!

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