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, rose Orders and associations of various kind, claiming their direct descent from T. 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 eventuality of a revival of the Order (theoretically possible) can come true only through the Holy See.
Quite different, on the contrary, is the situation of the foundation 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 intend to refer to the ideals and to the life style described from St. Bernard in the Liber ad Milites Templi de laude novae Militiae for the Templars (not claiming a direct filiation from the ancient Order) and who has, as peculiar purposes, the care of liturgy and to say the Divine Office, the study in depth of the spirituality and the culture of christian chivalry, the attendance to the pilgrims as also the moral and material support of neighbour , and in particular the Christians in Holy Land, and the education of youth. The Association, after beeing civilly recognized in 9.21.1979, was, with its knightly formulated Constitutions and with explicit references to the ancient Order, was approved (9.8.1988) by the archbishop of Siena Mons. Mario Jsmaele Castellano, as a private association of faithfuls under the name of “Milizia del Tempio” (Ordo Militiae Christi Templique Hierosolimitani).
On 11.24.1990, the same Mons. Castellano approved some changes in 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, Giovanni Paolo II had awarded in perpetuum, a series of indulgences for the main times of knight’s life.According to the rule, the new Militia, includes three categories of members: the knigths 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 profess knigths (or “in obedience”), who, with the investiture, commit themselves to tend to the perfection of chritian life; the women (ladies) who, remaining in their state, desire to collaborate in various ways with theM
ilitia, alwais under the autorithy of the Grand Master of the Militia; the third category is composed by that 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 donats, but delivering just a temporary promise, that must be renewed every third year. To be admitted at profession or at the 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 knigths of Christ, leader of the Militia of the Temple) who is elected every three years from the chapter of the thirteen justice knights (consulta).
The General Chapter, composed by knigths and ladies, has the legislative task; the consulta (or court of honour) has the disciplinary and control task; the Magisterial Grand Prioral Council the formulation of the government policy.
Five ministry support the central organs for the fulfilment of Militia’s tasks: the prelature (the general prelate is named every three years by Siena’s Archbishop) for the spiritual and doctrinal forming; the general lieutenantcy for discipline administration, to call and regulate new Grand Master’s election; the magistral preceptory (captain) for the ideal and knigthly forming; the magistral chancellery for the government, the administration and general organization; the governorship for the maintenance of the Magisterial See and the preservation of the patrimony.
The rule prescribes only the common recitation of vespers (the profess knigths have the obligation of daily breviary), but the possibility of forming also houses of conventual life is under consideration.
The knights with solemn profession (religious) or in obedience (secular) wear, according to the case, 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 other members have no habit, but just decoration or distinctive.
The Militia support herself financially with her member’s contributions, with donations of public and private bodies and with her activity.
Actually, the Militia, that has about thirty knights with solemn profession, some hundreds of knights in obedience and a lot of members in other categories, has constituted about ten national preceptories (grand priorates) and a lot of local priorates and commendas; 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 monumental romanesque construction of the XI century, that belonged to the Templars till 1312 and, after their suppression, to the Hospitallers of S. John in Jerusalem; on the 20th of January of 1979, after being 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 Templar Institution canonically legitimate.
G. Ventura, T. e templarismo, Roma 1980 (prima ed. 1964); B. Blandre, L\’Ordre des chevallers du Temple, du Christ et de Notre Dame. Association ou Ordre religieux esotérique?, in Praxis juridique et religion 3 (1986) 158-63; M. Lo Mastro, Dossier T. 1113-990, Roma ; G. Mantelli, La Magione. Casa t. sulla via Francigena, Poggibonsi 1990; Regola dei poveri Cavalieri di Cristo dell\’Ordine della Milizia del Tempio, ivi 1992.
Temple Skilful centre: Castle of the Magione – 53036 Poggibonsi (Siena).