This is the blog of the Order of The Poor Knights of Christ for the UK and Ireland. Currently the Order’s presence is that of a Delegation. In time it is hoped that a Preceptory can be erected here when enough Knights have been invested.
The poor Knights of Christ
…are those who have chosen before God and His Saints to bind themselves to the Militia, to be sanctified in it and to fight without respite for the rights of God and of Christianity. – Rule –
The Militia of the Temple is a Catholic lay order that aims to help its members towards the salvation of their souls by participation in the development of Christ’s Kingdom on earth through the faithful observance of its Rule. It is a knightly Order in the tradition of medieval Christian Chivalry which aims to foster knightly virtues and draws its strength from the spirituality of Saint Bernhard of Clairvaux and refers to his writings, yet neither declaring nor claiming a false, anti historical and illegitimate direct descent from the old Order. The Order has both married and celibate consecrated members whose purpose is the salvation of their souls by means of prayer, the holy Sacraments and the spirit of Knighthood which fully accomplishes its Christian ideals through service to the Church and to neighbour which in our materialistic society defends and spreads traditional Christian and human values. The Order is canonically recognized as a private association of the faithful of diocesan right according to can. 298, 299, 301 CJK.
Militia Templi – Christi pauperum Militum Ordo – Latin
Milizia del Tempio – Ordine dei poveri Cavalieri di Cristo – Italiano
Miliz des Tempels – Orden der armen Ritter Christi – Deutsh
Militia of the Temple – Order of the poor Knights of Christ – English
Milicia del Templo – Orden de los pobres Caballeros de Cristo – Espanol
Milice du Temple – Ordre des pauvres Chevaliers du Christ – Francais
Templomos Lovagrend – Krisztus szegény Lovagjainak Rendje – Magyar
Milicja z Temple – Aby ubogich Rycerzy Chrystusa – Polski
Milícia do Templo – Ordem dos pobres Cavaleiros de Cristo – Portugues
The History of the poor Knights of Christ
In this profession, the Order of knighthood in fact flourished and was resplendent, until when, having refused the love for justice; it no longer accomplished its task, neglecting to defend the poor and the Church. – Rule –
The foundation of the Order of the Knights of the Temple goes back to the years 1118 – 19 – thus 20 years after the conquest of Jerusalem. Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, left the eastern wing of his palace, adjacent to the ruins of the Temple of King Solomon, to the Order as headquarters. This is why the Order was called “Order of the Temple” and its members “Templarii – Templars”. The significance of the term “miles Christi”, introduced by Saint Paul, was made concrete at the time of the great clerical reforms and the Crusades by St. Bernard, who applied it as an ideal of the new Christian Knight. Those “Knights of Christ” called themselves “poor Knights”, an appellation, which should not at all be understood in the sense of needy or without means. In the interpretation of the early Fathers of the Church the term “poor” refers to the “poverty in the spirit” in Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount”. This poverty is anchored in the heart and means an inner freedom and independence from earthly goods.
The restoration of the Templars
… that the Poor Knights of Christ, following a righteous course, may reach the excellent Creator they fight for, whose sweetness exceeds the one of honey so much that compared to Him the latter is as bitter as absinthe, and may fight for Him until He returns. – Rule –
In the ninth volume of the Dictionary of the Institutes of Perfection (Edizioni Paoline, Rome, 1997) to the Militia Templi is dedicated the third section of the word “Templars”, the one entitled “the restoration of the Templars”.
“During the centuries, in Europe and in America, there arose Orders and associations of various kinds, claiming their direct descent from the Templars and referring in their rites, works and rule to those of the celebrated Order (cf. G. Ventura, T. e templarismo…; M. Lo Mastro, Dossier T.: … and B. Blandre, L´Ordre…: q.v. bibl.). The self-styled direct derivation from the ancient Order, however, is totally groundless, both historically and juridically false; and, in any case, the possibility of a revival of the Order (theoretically possible) could only come through the Holy See.
Quite different, on the contrary, is the situation of the foundation which arose in 1979 in Poggibonsi (Siena) on the initiative of the Count Marcello A. Cristofani della Magione. He set up an association of laymen who intended to refer to the ideals and to the life style described by St. Bernard in the Liber ad Milites Templi de laude novae Militiae for the Templars (not claiming a direct descent from the ancient Order.) This Order was founded with as a peculiar purpose the care of the liturgy and the recitation of the Divine Office, the study in depth of the spirituality and culture of Christian chivalry, the care of pilgrims and also the moral and material support of neighbour , and in particular the Christians in the Holy Land, and the education of youth. The Association, after being civilly recognized on 9.21.1979, was, with its particular Constitutions and with explicit references to the ancient Order, approved (9.8.1988) by the archbishop of Siena Mons. Mario Jsmaele Castellano, as a private association of the faithful under the name of “Milizia del Tempio” (Ordo Militiae Christi Templique Hierosolimitani). On 11.24.1990, the same Mons. Castellano approved some changes in the constitutions, while in 11.18.1990, the new Ordinary of Siena, Mons. Bonicelli, approved the Rule with the name of “Regola dei Poveri Cavalieri di Cristo dell’Ordine della Milizia del Tempio”, drawn from the rule of the ancient Order and adapted to modern times. Meanwhile, on 9.13.1989, Pope John Paul II had awarded in perpetuum, a series of indulgences for the main times of a knight’s life.
According to the rule, the new Militia, includes three categories of members: the knights with solemn profession, who consecrate themselves perpetually to the Militia with the investiture and the promise to observe the three classic evangelic counsels with the public testimony of faith (fourth promise), and the non professed knights (or “in obedience”), who, with the investiture, commit themselves to tend to the perfection of Christian life; the women (ladies) who, remaining in their state, desire to collaborate in various ways with the Militia, always under the authority of the Grand Master of the Militia; the third category is composed by those men and women who, because of their young age and inexperience, are not considered ready to assume a definitive pledge: they serve the Militia as oblates, making just a temporary promise, that must be renewed every third year. To be admitted to investiture a novice must serve a novitiate for three years and must be 21.
According to the rule and the constitutions the Militia is ruled by a Grand Master (Master of the poor knights of Christ, leader of the Militia of the Temple) who is elected every three years from the chapter of the thirteen knights of justice (consulta).
The General Chapter, composed by knights and ladies, has the task of legislating; the consulta (or court of honour) has the task of discipline; the Magisterial Council the formulation of governmental policy.
Five ministries support the central organs for the fulfilment of the Militia’s tasks: the prelature (the general prelate is named every three years by Siena’s Archbishop) for spiritual and doctrinal formation; the general lieutenancy for the administration of discipline, to call and regulate a new Grand Master’s election; the magistral preceptory (captain) for knigthly formation; the magistral chancellery for the government, administration and general organization; the governorship for the maintenance of the Magisterial See and the preservation of the patrimony.
The knights wear the white habit composed by a tunic, a scapular with a red octagonal cross on the breast and a mantle where the same cross is placed on the left shoulder; the ladies, a white veil with the cross without the superior arm; the chaplains, a white mozzetta with red border and buttons and octagonal red cross on the left front part.
The Militia support herself financially with her member’s contributions, and with donations of public and private bodies.
Actually, the Militia has at present about ten national preceptories (grand priories) and a lot of local priories and commanderies; has promoted and affiliated scout groups and youth organizations in Italy and in other countries. The Magistral See is in the Castello della Magione in Poggibonsi (Siena), an extraordinary romanesque construction of the XI century, that belonged to the Templars till 1312 and, after their suppression, to the Hospitallers of S. John of Jerusalem; on the 20th of January of 1979, after having passed into the hands of various owners, it was acquired by Count Marcello Alberto Cristofani della Magione, who made of it the patrimonial endowment of the Magistral See of the Militia Templi.”
The Militia Templi is today the only canonically legitimate Templar Institution.
Purposes of the Militia of the Temple
Above all, whoever you are, Knight of Christ, you who choose such a holy way of life, it is necessary that you apply in your profession a pure attention and a firm perseverance … – Rule –
The general purpose of the Militia Templi is to promote and to constitute communities of Faith and Christian life in order to follow, in full communion with the Catholic Church, the originality of the knightly vocation as expressed in the Rule.
The special purposes of the Militia are;
The care of the Liturgy, in conformity with Tradition and Papal Teaching, and the prayer of the Divine Office, as a service to God;
The study in depth of the spirituality and culture of Knighthood as a testimony and in defence of traditional human and Christian values. This as a service to the ideal of Knighthood;
The defence and the reception of pilgrims and generally the moral and material support of neighbour in conformity with the tradition of the old Order, together with the education of youth. This as a service to the Church and to Society.
Spirituality and Liturgy
The old Order of the Poor Knights of Christ found in the writing of Saint Bernard “Liber ad Milites Templi de laude novae Militiae “the necessary basis for the new monastic and knightly spirituality, contemplative and combative, that would have characterised it in its almost two hundred years of glorious life at the service of the Church and of the neighbour. – Rule –
At the urging of the then Cardinal Patron of the Order Cardinal Gagnon, the Order adopted the traditional liturgy of the Church in 1991. This decision was then made formal and irrevocable at the General Chapter in 2002. Therefore the Breviary and Missal proper to the Order are those of 1962.
Of the Divine Office
Chapter V – “… The Knights shall recite the Office according to the custom of the Roman Church, possibly all the Daily Hours, but should this not be possible they shall at least propose to always recite Lauds or Vespers…”
Chapter VII – “… The aptitude of the Novice for prayer shall thus be examined, and he shall in particular be directed towards the constant practice of reciting the Divine Office, whether with others or alone…”
Of spiritual nourishment
Chapter XIV – “… Conscious that silence lets God’s voice be more audible and prepares the soul to listen to it, each brother shall retire yearly to pray and meditate in solitude for at least two whole consecutive days; …”
The Delegate for the UK and Ireland is dom Gerard Brady CPMO.
Currently there are three novices in formation.