December 06, 2004

What do they have against mimes?

Ghost of a Flea points to this story which, as the night has worn on, has bothered me more and more:

THE VATICAN is giving “serious consideration” to apologising for the persecution that led to the suppression of the Knights Templar.

The suppression, which began on Friday , October 13, 1307, gave Friday the Thirteenth its superstitious legacy.

A Templar Order in Britain that claims to be descended from the original Knights Templar has asked that the Pope should make the apology.

Apologies of this sort are absurd, but assuming that a current Pope can apologize for the actions of his predecessors (and, as I noted in a comment over at Flea, it's really the Capetians who should apologize, since it was the French king Philip the Fair who took the lead in suppressing the order -- this book gives a fairly gripping account of it), then there must be someone extant to whom to apologize. The Templars were a monastic order; brothers had to be celibate, so to the extent that any ancestors of Templars are extant, it is because the order was suppressed.

I don't know how an order can claim descent from another order -- the Templars like any other Catholic order require Church sanction; once that was withdrawn the Templars ceased to exist. As to those individuals who claim to be Templars, I wonder how many of the order's practices, as described by its spiritual father, St. Bernard of Clairvaux:

They are wary of all excesses in food and dress; they concern themselves only with necessities. They have a joyous and sober life in their community, without women and without children. That they might lack no evangelical perfection, they live without private property, in one house, in one way, eager to safeguard spiritual oneness within the bounds of their peace. You could say that all their multitude has but one heart and one spirit, to such an extent does each of them strive, not to fulfill his private desires, but rather to obey his master. At no time do they sit at leisure or wander adventurously; rather on those rare occasions when they are not engaged, they repair the wear and tear that their clothes and armor have suffered, bring things to order, and generally see to whatever their master's will and communal necessity dictate, in order to earn their keep. Rank is not recognized among them at all; pride of place is alotted better, not nobler men. They rival one another in honor; they bear one another's burdens, so fulfilling Christ's injunction. The insolent word, the profitless deed, improvident laughter, even the least murmur or whisper does not go unrepaired when perceived properly. They swear off dice and gaming; they detest hunting, and take no pleasure in the absurd cruelty of falconry, as it is practiced. They renounce and abominate mimes and magicians and romanciers, bawdy songs and the spectacle of the joust as vanity and dangerous folly. They keep their hair short, having learned from the Apostle that it is shameful for a man to wear his hair like a woman. Never do they set and rarely do they wash their hair, preferring to go about dishevelled and unkempt, covered in dust and blackened by the sun and their armor.

Do St. Bernard's words describe the modern Templar? I imagine most no longer practice falconry, but somehow I doubt they walk around unkempt and stinking. And if they do, well, who is it then who should be offering apologies?

Posted by Ideofact at December 6, 2004 12:36 AM

One is tempted to make an observation about fandom, faux-history enthusiasts going about unkempt and stinking as a matter of course. I am not certain it qualifies as a monastic discipline if it is done inadvertently (and I write this as a kempt and unstinking fandom, faux-history enthusiast!).

Posted by: Ghost of a flea at December 6, 2004 10:23 AM