Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple
of Jerusalem
The Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem,
incorporated in Belgium in 1932, is the largest group
growing out of the Neo-Templar Movement launched by Bernard-Raymond
Fabré-Palaprat (1773–1838) in the years following
the French Revolution. The Order of the Temple, commonly
called the Templars, was a medieval monastic order
virtually destroyed by King Philip the Fair of France and formally
dissolved by Pope Clement V in 1307. The order survived
for another century in Portugal, but by the beginning of the fifteenth
century had completely disappeared.
However, as Speculative Freemasonry spread through Europe
in the eighteenth century, a rumor developed that the
order had survived in the person of knights who sought protection
in the masonic guilds of Scotland and Ireland. They were
the sources of the ‘‘Templar’’ degrees in the Masonic initiatory
structure. Then, at the time of the French Revolution, some
French masons began to argue that since the Templars came
before Freemasonry, it was logically independent of it and
hence not subordinate to it. Their cause was championed by
Fabré-Palaprat, a physician residing in Paris, who claimed to
have found documents proving the existence of a lineage of
grand masters who continued to operate from the time of the
order’s official suppression to 1792 when the then-grand master
was killed by political opponents. The most important of
these documents was the Lamenius charter which specifies the
passing of the grand mastership by the last public master,
Jacques de Molay, to one John Mark Lamenius who he met in
prison while awaiting his execution.
In the freer atmosphere of post-Revolutionary France, in
1804 Fabré-Palaprat organized a new Templar Order and four
years later received the approbation of Napoleon. Since the
Roman Catholic Church had not changed its official stance
against the Templars, he also organized an esoteric Johannite
church and consecrated its first bishop. After his death in 1838,
the order experienced the first of many schisms. Over the next
century, a number of branches and derivative groups would appear,
including the German Ordo Templi Orientis and the
French-based Independent Group of Esoteric Studies founded
by Gérard Encausse. Among the more than 30 Neo-Templar
groups operating in the 1990s was the infamous Solar Temple
whose leaders committed suicide in 1994.
Fabré-Palaprat’s Order of the Temple existed as an informal
association until 1932, when it was legally incorporated in
Belgium as the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of
Jerusalem, under the leadership of Theodore Covais. Covais
assumed the title of regent rather than grand master. Then, as
Belgium was engulfed by World War II (1939–45), the regency
was passed to Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes, who resided
in neutral Portugal. After the war, he continued as the regent,
though not without opposition from some of the Frenchspeaking
Templars. He issued charters in many countries and
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the order grew significantly. An American branch was chartered
in 1962.
Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes died in 1960 and
was succeeded by his son, Fernando Campello Pinto de Sousa
Fontes. However, not all approved his election and in 1970, a
French-speaking group gathered in Paris where Antoine Zdrojewski
was elected regent of what became a rival body. This rival
body included a number of people with right-wing political affiliations.
They soon involved the order in their political intrigues
and it was disbanded in France in 1973. Internationally
it became the source of a variety of new orders.
The order that remained loyal to Antonio Campello Pinto
de Sousa Fontes has grown and prospered while at the same
time it has played down its occult roots. Like Freemasonry, the
contemporary Templars (especially in North America) have
emerged as a fraternal organization dedicated to work for their
community and country, to support the poor and the unjustly
accused, to stand against oppression, and to encourage the
ideal of medieval chivalry. Harking back to the Templar history
during the Crusades, the modern Templars see it their duty to
assist Christian pilgrims and to maintain a Christian presence
in the Holyland. One must be a professed Christian to be a
member.
The current grand prior of the order in the United States
is Col. Chev. Stewart McCarty. He may be contacted through
the order’s Internet site at httpwww.smotj.org. Internationally,
the order is led by the current Grand Master MG Sir Roy
Redgrave, who resides in London, England. He may be contacted
through the Internet site at httpwww.osmth.org
index.html. Grand priories may be found in Austria, England
and Wales, Scotland, Finland, France, and Italy.
Sources
Introvigne, Massimo. Il cappello del mago I nuovi movimenti
magici dallo spiritismo al satanismo. Milan SugarCo, 1990.
Kovarik, Robert J. ‘‘Chronology of the Sovereign Military
Order of the Temple of Jerusalem.’’ 1977. http
members.aol.comTemplarNYTemplarNY.html. June 11,
2000.
Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
(International). httpwww.osmth.orgindex.html. June 11,
2000.
Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem
(United States.). httpwww.smotj.org. June 11, 2000.