The Temple Mount is sacred to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as an important location throughout history. It is believed to be the location of the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, the legendary storage place for the Ark of the Covenant, and the probable site of Mount Moriah, where Abraham is said to have come to sacrifice his son Isaac. It is also an important location to Muslims, the spot where it is believed Mohammad ascended into heaven.
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, commonly known as the Knights Templar trace their origins back to shortly after the First Crusade around 1119. Their stated mission was to protect pilgrims on their journey to visit The Holy Places. They approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who allowed them to set up headquarters on the southeastern side of the Temple Mount, inside the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Legend has it that The Knights dug under the ruins of Solomon’s Temple for nine years and hit paydirt. Under the Temple Mount the Templars discovered a network of tunnels where the Jewish priests hid their treasures from the marauding Romans in 70 AD. The Templars returned from their Crusade with vast wealth uncovered under the Temple Mount and initiated a monumental building program in Europe, which ultimately resulted in the construction of over 250 castles and Gothic churches.
Their knowledge of masonry, medicine, the celestial heavens, mapping, and nautical tools were extensive, and increased the efficiency of their all of their affairs, military, merchantile, or political. Unfortunately for the Templars, they created many enemies along the way. The clergy began to believe that the Templars were beginning to worship pagan beliefs and were performing anti-biblical acts such as idol worship, homosexuality, and witchcraft.
The fall of the Templars may have started over the matter of a loan. Philip IV, King of France needed cash for his wars and asked the Templars for money and they refused. On October 13 (the unlucky Friday the 13th), 1307, the Knights Templar in France were simultaneously arrested and tortured into admitting heresy. It is believed that Philip, who seized the treasury and broke up their banking system was jealous of the Templars’ wealth and power, and sought to control it for himself. Their penalty was death and Phililip, King of France succeeded in extinquishing the Knights Templar forever. Or did he?
Few historians today doubt that the charges against the knights were concocted and the confessions forced. But the Templar legend has escaped modern sensationalism, for the raw material offered by the order’s spectacular demise is too tempting to ignore. Among the first to exploit it were the 18th-century Freemasons. The Freemasons adopted the Templar legend to explain the murder of Hiram, king of Tyre, who was employed to build Solomon’s Temple and was killed because he would not reveal Masonic building secrets. According to Freemason history, the Templars were abolished because they held key knowledge that could potentially discredit both church and state.
Some say that not all of the Knights Templar were killed. It is said that some escaped arrest and they went into hiding to continue their work in secret, only to reemerge in Europe during the 1700s as the modern Freemasons. At the time of the Middle Ages Masons were stone workers hired by kings and churches in Europe to build great castles and cathedrals. The Knights Templar had been collaborating closely with the trade guilds which was a requirement of their business affairs for many years. The Order had played a major role in establishing and developing guilds. One of these guilds turned out to be the order of Free Masonry.
Today Free Masons themselves regard Free Masonry as a “society that has secrets”. Some would say a “secret society”. When you walk down Main Street in any large town in the USA you may encounter the local Masonic Lodge. Those who do take this stroll little note that these modern lodges and the people inside them represent actual history, the very last of the Knights Templar!