The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization based on the ancient organization that was founded in the 11th century. Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in ways different than the ancient Templars. Members of the Order today support the organization’s primary charities, the Knight Templar Eye Foundation, the Knight Templar Education Foundation, and the Holy Land Pilgrimage, by raising millions of dollars annually.
In 1099 the First Crusade captured Jerusalem, and as a result, many Christians made pilgrimages to various Holy Land sacred sites. While Jerusalem itself was secure under Christian rule, the lands outside its walls were plagued with bandits and others who prayed upon the Christians making pilgrimages.
In response,on Christmas Day in 1118 the French knight Hugues de Payens sought permission to establish a monastic order to protect the pilgrims. The King and Patriarch of Jerusalem agreed and gave the new order a headquarters building located on the Temple Mount, so called because it was believed to lie above the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple. It was from this location the new order took the name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or “Templar” knights.
As they served God and man, the Templars increased in wealth and influence. However, after the Holy Land was lost to the Muslims in the 12th century, the Templars began to decline. At dawn on Friday, the 13th of October 1307 King Philip IV of France, who was badly in debt to the Templars, ordered the Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested and their assets seized. De Molay was later burned at the stake after being tortured into a confession. This effectively ended the Templars as a major force in Europe.
Today’s Knights Templar base their organization off of the ancient Knights Templar, but claim no direct connection between the ancient order and the modern order. In short, we cannot say that we are directly descended from the ancient Knights Templar. However, we can say that we strive to defend the faith and uphold Christian values just as they did.
The words of Bernard de Clairvaux ring just as true today as they did in the 1100’s:
A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.
In Louisiana, all Knights Templar must first be Master Masons and members of a Lodge of Master Masons recognized by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F. & A.M.. Once becoming a Master Mason, the prospective Knight must also join a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and a Council of Cryptic Masons. The initiation ceremony for the Chapter and Council, as well as that of Templary, is usually done in one day at a Festival held somewhere in Louisiana. A list of upcoming festivals can be found here.
We believe it worth repeating: ALL Knights Templar in Louisiana are Master Masons first and foremost.
The Grand Commandery of Louisiana is the parent organization of all local commanderies in Louisiana, and itself owes its allegiance to the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States.