Honouring the Treasury of His Word

The newly established Sunday of the Word of God is an invitation to Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and His Word, said Pope Francis. By papal decree, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time — Jan. 26 this year — is to be observed as a special day devoted to "the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God." A day dedicated to the Bible will help the Church "experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of His Word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world," the Pope said in the document establishing the special Sunday observance.

Dioceses and parishes have been invited to respond with creative initiatives, helpful resources and renewed efforts for helping Catholics engage more deeply with the Bible at church and in their lives. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said added emphasis on the importance of the Word of God is needed, because "the overwhelming majority" of Catholics are not familiar with sacred Scripture. For many, the only time they hear the Word of God is when they attend Mass, he said. "The Bible is the most widely distributed book, but it's also perhaps the one most covered in dust, because it is not held in our hands," the archbishop said.

With this apostolic letter, the Pope "invites us to hold the Word of God in our hands every day as much as possible so that it becomes our prayer" and a greater part of one's lived experience, he said. In his letter, Pope Francis wrote, "A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event, but rather a yearlong event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak His word and to break bread in the community of believers. We need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness."

Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments are inseparable. Jesus speaks to everyone with His Word in sacred Scripture, he said, and if people "hear His voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us." Pope Francis urged priests to be extra attentive to creating a homily each Sunday that "speaks from the heart" and really helps people understand Scripture "through simple and suitable" language. The homily "is a pastoral opportunity that should not be wasted," he wrote. "For many of our faithful, in fact, this is the only opportunity they have to grasp the beauty of God's Word and to see it applied to their daily lives."

Pope Francis encouraged people to read the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum - and Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic exhortation on the Bible - Verbum Domini - whose teaching remains "fundamental for our communities." The Pope also suggested that pastors provide parishioners with the Bible, a book of the Gospels or other catechetical resources, "enthrone" the Bible in order to emphasise the honour and sacred nature of the text, bless or commission lectors of the parish and encourage people to read and pray with Scripture every day, especially through "lectio divina."

"The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognise themselves in its words," the Pope wrote. "The Bible is the book of the Lord's people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division toward unity" as well as come to understand God's love and become inspired to share it with others, he added.

The celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God also "has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity," he wrote. The third Sunday in Ordinary Time falls during that part of the year when the Church is encouraged to strengthen its bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity.

The document was published on the feast of St Jerome, patron saint of biblical scholars and doctor of the Church, who said, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." The title, Aperuit Illis, is based on a verse from the Gospel of St Luke, "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."

Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

'They showed us unusual kindness'

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an ecumenical endeavour. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches' Commission on Faith and Order have been preparing the text for the entire world. "The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020" has been prepared by the churches in Malta, and the theme chosen is "They showed us unusual kindness" (Acts 28:2). On February 10, many Christians in Malta celebrate the Feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul, marking and giving thanks for the arrival of Christian faith on these islands. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles used for the feast is the text chosen for this year's Week of Prayer.

Today, many people are facing the same terrors on the same seas. The very same places named in the reading (27:1, 28:1) also feature in the stories of modern day migrants. In other parts of the world, many others are making equally dangerous journeys by land and sea to escape natural disasters, warfare and poverty. Their lives, too, are at the mercy of immense and coldly indifferent forces – not only natural, but political, economic and human. This human indifference takes various forms—the indifference of those who sell places on unseaworthy vessels to desperate people; the indifference of the decision not to send out rescue boats; and the indifference of turning migrant ships away. This names only a few instances. As Christians together facing these crises of migration, this story challenges us: do we collude with the cold forces of indifference, or do we show "unusual kindness" and become witnesses of God's loving providence to all people?

Hospitality is a much needed virtue in our search for Christian unity. It calls us to a greater generosity to those in need. The people who showed unusual kindness to Paul and his companions did not yet know Christ, and yet it is through their unusual kindness that a divided people were drawn closer together. Our own Christian unity will be discovered not only through showing hospitality to one another, but also through loving encounters with those who do not share our language, culture or faith. In such tempestuous journeys and chance encounters, God's will for His Church and all people comes to fulfilment. As Paul will proclaim in Rome, this salvation of God has been sent to all peoples (Acts 28:28).

The Conference of Catholic Bishops in India (CCBI) Commission for Ecumenism, calls on the Church in India to join the Maltese Church in their craving for unity. Great and big initiatives for Christian unity may seem beyond our reach. Yet, each one of us and each church community is capable of contributing our mite for the noble cause of Christian unity by following "the little way of ecumenism" shown by Blessed Sr Maria Gabriella Sagheddu, a Trappist nun who has been popularly heralded as the "Patron Saint of the Ecumenical Movement" for her own conversion from selfishness and pride, which are at the root of divisiveness. St Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1983, because of her spiritual devotion to Christian unity. The Commission would like to exhort everyone to celebrate Ecumenism Sunday, which falls on January 19, 2020.

Spiritual Ecumenism is the soul of the ecumenical movement. Vatican II states: "Change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement. It merits the name - "spiritual ecumenism" - for "prayers in common are certainly an effective means of obtaining the grace of unity, and they are a true expression of the ties which still bind Catholics to their separated brethren." (UR 8).

As we pray, let us recall the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper who, in his "A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism," says, "Prayer for unity is the royal door of ecumenism. It leads Christians to look at the Kingdom of God and the unity of the Church in a fresh way; it deepens their bonds of communion, and it enables them to courageously face painful memories, social burdens and human weakness."

Fr Reginald D'Mello, OP is Executive Secretary, CCBI Commission for Ecumenism.

God's Watermark

A watermark is defined as a faint design, visible when held against the light, typically identifying the maker. This is a beautiful image for Baptism, as the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. Jesus entered the waters for baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, leaving his mark. In Baptism, we ourselves have been 'watermarked' in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Baptism certificates aren't sized to identity cards on lanyards and worn around the neck to identify oneself as a Christian or a Child of God. The watermark definition, however, allows us to say that Baptism is the faint design visible which identifies God as our Maker when held against the light of Christ.

Though sinless, Jesus identifies with human condition and makes a commitment to His Father's Will. Anointed by the Holy Spirit and His Father's endorsement of love, He launches into ministry. Until the age of 30, Jesus is in the schools of carpentry and of the Word preparing Himself. Apprenticeship done, He makes a career change and begins 'building' God's Kingdom instead. From the training of His earthly father Joseph to the business of His Heavenly Father! Jesus would eventually use the tools of His profession—wood and nails—to bring salvation. With baptism, Jesus is ready to launch into mission.

Unlike the sinless Jesus, we are in constant need of acknowledging our sins. And repentance moves beyond lip service to life service, inviting commitment to discipleship living. Baptismal vocation brings about a metanoia.

William P. Barker tells of a machinist at the Ford Motor Company in Detroit who became a Christian. He responded to the invitation and was baptised. As the Holy Spirit began renewing this man, he became convinced of his need to make restitution for some parts and tools he had stolen from the company, prior to becoming a Christian. So he brought all the tools back to his employer. He explained he had been baptised and asked forgiveness—an amazing turn. Mr Ford was in Europe at the time, and was cabled with these details, seeking a response. Mr Ford immediately messaged: "Make a dam in the Detroit River, and baptise the entire city."

The unconditional love of God as Father, the Grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in Baptism impacts our choices and behaviour. Christ's sacrificial life is the barcode giving us new life! St Paul translates this good news in 1 Corinthians 6:20, "You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." Under the 'new management' of Jesus, as the baptised, we now go out as disciples in the footsteps of the Master with a foot-washing theology. The Great Commission is often copy-pasted as the evangelising anthem, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son…" We mark a full stop where scripture continues the mandate, "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Baptism is an invitation to launch out into the deep; it is not a mere record in a baptismal register allowing us some rights and perks in the Church.

The voice of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit is a roaring appraisal for God's beloved Son, "This is my beloved; I am well pleased." This makes the part-time job of Jesus the carpenter turn into a full-time job as the Anointed. The love and will of the Father becomes the driving force. Which son/daughter would not want a father like this, particularly where appraisals are the results of a successful outcome? Making a long story short, dwelling on the Fatherliness in this episode helps rearrange our logic of roles in the family! The absence of such hearing deafens, if not deadens, the mission ahead. May our tweens and teens hear they are the beloved from reassuring parental voices! This will oxygenate baptismal mission. Earmark the importance of echoing love while the power of the Spirit watermarks us as sons/daughters of God.

Deacon Ivan Fernandes, Diocesan Youth Centre, Bandra

Journey to Jesus

The biblical story of the Epiphany is an allegory for our pilgrimage through life to Christ. Like the rising Sun which begins its journey from the east, our life on earth begins in the joyous, warm and life-giving bosom of our mother, a place of familiarity and deep connection. Like the Magi, we set out on a journey, not comprehending fully well where we are headed, but assured that finding God is our destination. En route, we come across others who are headed in the same direction, as well as false (Herodian) kings that tempt us quite convincingly to see the spiritual and the Divine as a threat to our earthly ambitions. We encounter a number of fellow travellers who assist us in our task, and others who distract us from our divinely mandated purpose.

Christ, the Light, our Guiding Star, is our firm constant in a world that is often fluid and ever changing. We are assured of His constant love, strength and grace in an unsettled earthly journey. The Feast of the Epiphany is an invitation to keep our gaze fixed on the Christ Light, so that we may safely arrive at our intended destination. When we meet Him, we will also present to Him our best gifts – gifts that we received from God Himself – but which we will offer back to Him – gifts used wisely, fully and multiplied – in worship and thanksgiving.

But at the heart of the Epiphany is the 'journey'. If you want to find something, the best way to do so is to start looking! You may set out not knowing what you are looking for, but God will find you. A word that beautifully encapsulates this is 'Serendipity' - the ancient Persian name for Sri Lanka (Serendip). It refers to the fortune of finding one thing while you are searching for another. And that is why we must learn to entrust ourselves to God's providence, and allow ourselves to be surprised by God's plans for us. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Going on a journey is a significant theme in the Christian life, says Fr Piccolo Gaetano, and that is why perhaps the Gospels always start with someone who is searching for something, but who isn't quite sure what he's looking for. Matthew starts with the Magi who are following an improbable star, Mark with John the Baptist who awaits a Messiah who is different from the one that comes to be baptised by him, Luke undertakes the investigations of a professional historian, and John presents us with blundering disciples who do not know where they are going.

And yet, all are seeking. In this way, the Gospels suggest that the fundamental attitude that one must have in order to find God is simply to seek!

May 2020 herald the beginning of new journeys for us – wanderings that lead us to the reason of our existence – God Himself! If we surrender ourselves to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will soon discover that our Guiding Star was not out there, but within us all along, in true Chestertonian fashion (Orthodoxy – the man in the yacht). Along the way, we must beware of the Herods and false prophets of our time who vouch for the treasures of this world and deny the divine. God is not a rival, and He certainly does not deprive us of our autonomy and personal space. Au contraire, it is in God that we will find fulfilment, perfect freedom and fullness of redemption. Our final destination is a simple place by earthly standards – a humble and poor manger – bereft of glamorous lights, comfort and flattering adulations. Yet there, we will find our only Peace, our only Love, our only Comfort.

PS: A radiant star in the historical ether of the Archdiocese of Bombay has been the majestic institution of St Xavier's College, Mumbai, which completes 150 years of its existence. Countless many who have passed through its hallowed spaces have been inspired to reach for the stars, and create lasting legacies in the secular, civic, academic, social and ecclesiastical spheres. We dedicate this issue to the people who made and continue to uphold the St Xavier's Vision.

Fr Joshan Rodrigues is on The Examiner Editorial Board, with the additional duty of Managing Editor.

The Challenge of Christmas

Fr Anthony Charanghat

The mystery of the Holy Night of Christmas is that the grace of God in His plenitude, has appeared to us, bringing salvation, as His free gift. In the Child given to us, the love of God is made visible. It is a night of light. The light prophesied by Isaiah (cf. 9:1) which was to shine on those who walked in a land of darkness, has appeared and enveloped the shepherds of Bethlehem.

It is a night of glory, that glory proclaimed by the angels in Bethlehem and by ourselves as well, all over the world. Henceforth and for ever, the Infinite and eternal God is God with us. He is not far off. We need not search for Him in the heavens or in mystical notions. He is close at hand. He became flesh and made our humanity his own. It is a night of Joy because He has come to pitch His tent among all nations.

The shepherds discover simply that “a child has been born to us” (Is 9:5). They realise that all this glory, all this joy, all this light, converges to a single point, the sign that the angel indicated to them: “You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). This is the enduring sign for all who would find Jesus. Not just then, but also today.

If we want to celebrate Christmas Peace authentically, we need to contemplate this sign—the frail simplicity of a tiny newborn child, the meekness with which He is placed in a manger, the tender affection with which He is wrapped in His swaddling clothes. That is where God is.

In order to meet Him, we need to go where He is to experience His Peace. The Christmas message must draw us beyond just discussing concepts and spinning statistics. We need to bow down, to humble ourselves to walk in His way. The newborn Child challenges us. He calls us to leave behind fleeting illusions and to turn to what is essential, to renounce our insatiable cravings, to abandon our endless yearning for things we will never have. We do well to leave such things behind, in order to discover, in the simplicity of the divine Child, peace, joy and the luminous meaning of life.

Pope Francis says, “Let us allow the Child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also be challenged by all those children in today’s world who are lying not in a crib, caressed with affection by their mothers and fathers, but in squalid ‘mangers that devour dignity’.” No less should we be sensitive to the children who hide underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of large cities, in the hold of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by those children who are not allowed to be born due to the loss of our sacredness of human life.

The mystery of Christmas, which is light and joy, challenges and unsettles us, because it is at once a mystery of hope and of sadness. It has a taste of sadness, inasmuch as His love is not accepted, and His life discarded. Such was the case with Joseph and Mary, who met with closed doors, and placed Jesus in a manger, “because there was no place for them in the inn.” Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference and rejection, even unto death on the Cross.

Today too, that same indifference can exist, whenever Christmas becomes a season with ourselves at the centre, rather than Jesus; when the lights of shop windows push the light of God into the shadows; when we are enthused about gifts, but indifferent to our neighbours in need. This worldliness has kidnapped Christmas; we need to liberate it!

Yet, Christmas has above all, a taste of hope, because, for all the darkness in our lives, God’s light shines forth. His gentle light does not frighten us. God, who is in love with us, draws us to Himself with His tenderness, by being born poor and frail in our midst, as one of us. He is born in Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread’. In this way, He seems to tell us that He is born as bread for us; He enters our life to give us His life; he comes into our world to give us His love. He does not come to devour or to lord it over us, but instead to feed and serve us. There is the connect between the manger and the Cross where Jesus will become bread that is broken. It is the unconditional love that gives and saves, the love that brings light to our lives and peace to our hearts.

That night, the humble and poor shepherds experienced God’s preferential love for the lowly and the poor. They were among the marginalised of those times. The wise men from the East too, because of their wisdom, recognised the Saviour, and came from afar to pay homage. At that Christmas, they were the welcome guests. No one is marginalised in the sight of God.

God intervened in human history, and human history is changed. Our notion of God has also changed. In Jesus Christ, God has become present in our world in a different way. Our God is not a distant God in heaven. God chose to be intimately present in human history, not just at the birth of Christ, but also in our own day.

This Christmas, may we too be challenged and called by Jesus. Let us set out in haste to approach Him with trust like the shepherds and the reverence of the wise men from the East, bringing to Jesus all that we are, our gifts, and things that make us feel marginalised, our alienation, limitations, our unhealed wounds and our sins. With Mary and Joseph, let us pause before the manger, contemplating His Infinite love. Let us pause to gaze upon the crib of Him who was born as Bread of Life to be broken for our redemption.

The mystery of Christmas challenges us. The mystery of Christmas is the mystery of our God who, in the Christ Child, emptied Himself to be with us. His birth changes us and opens us to His kind of Love, inviting us to mirror His love. Only in such a relationship with our Saviour does Christmas find its true Joy and Peace. Celebrate Christmas in that spirit today, tomorrow and for the year to come.

Patience, Prophecy and Profound Preparation

Feelings of joy, excitement and warm love impregnate the air as the Feast of Christmas approaches with startling swiftness. The month of December always seems to move along faster than the others. It is a month of celebrations, community and family, as we oscillate between weddings, First Holy Communions and Christmas get-togethers. It is a month of 'joyful' busy-ness.

The Third Sunday of Advent mirrors our happy hearts, as the Entrance antiphon proclaims, "Gaudete in Domino semper: iterumdico, gaudete" (Rejoice in the Lord; again I say, rejoice - Philippians 4:4). With only one more Sunday before Christmas, the liturgy takes on a more eager and urgent sense of anticipation. The option of rose vestments and a rose candle for the third candle of the Advent wreath help heighten this emphasis. It is not surprising that the verbs "sing" and "rejoice" are heard over and over in the readings for this Sunday.

This sense of urgency and busyness is however tempered with St James' exhortation (in the second reading) to be patient. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas season, we must pause to reflect on the progress of our journey to the manger at Bethlehem, and probably even double-check our coordinates to ensure that we are headed in the right direction. Just as the farmer waits patiently to reap the sweet fruit of his labour, just as every meaningful relationship needs an investment of time and understanding, Advent must become for us a time to stop and stare at the grandeur of the Incarnation and what it means for 'my' personal journey on earth.

The 'App' generation – as some techno-sociologists describe us to be – is characterised by a desire for instant gratification. Technology has metamorphosed into satisfying our every want at the click of an app. Be it transport, shopping, food, commerce, banking, messaging, communication, entertainment or even finding an amorous relationship, there is an app for almost everything today. The happiness 'delivered' by these apps, however, is often superficial and short-lived, as the possibility of a deep encounter and a profound choice is negated by the speed of the world in which we live. Advent invites us to re-discover the rich rewards of patience and meaningful reflection.

Having the courage and desire to authentically search for the Lord leads to a long-lasting, and life-changing transformation. "The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised…" (Mt 11:5) Advent has traditionally been a time of spiritual penance to "make straight the paths for the Lord", yet it often descends into a superficial immersion into worldly celebrations, much like the false flattery for the "Emperor's new clothes". Our True King's naked incarnation in a poor stable amidst the animals and shepherds, however, points the way to the real focus – reconciliation, humility, service and a spiritual course-correction.

Advent is a call to be 'prophetic'. John the Baptist is unafraid of asking the real questions, and letting himself be seen as he truly is. He recognises the difference between himself and others; he recognises his role of service for another; he is not the light, but the witness of the Light; he is not the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom; he is not the Word, but the voice of the Word. John the Baptist finds his identity in service, so that another can develop his own role. This is a far cry from our culture plagued by the desire for stardom and attention. It is because of this, and many other reasons, that Jesus calls him the 'greatest'.

Like the Baptist, our prophetic 'voice' is even more urgently required in today's time. Isaiah's deserts and parched land are made real in our present, in the ever-increasing violence (especially against women and children), corruption, selfishness, poverty and ignorance of the weakest and vulnerable in our society. The seeds of society's shadows lie in each one of us. By commission or silence, we become complicit in the proliferation of darkness. May we ask ourselves and others the right questions, and face our failures and fears with courage and Divine assistance, so that this Christmas, our families and our society at large will be "crowned with everlasting joy" (Is 35:10).

Fr Joshan Rodrigues is on The Examiner Editorial Board, with the additional duty of Managing Editor.

Friday the 13th and the Order of the Knights Templar

Debasish Chakraverty

Friday the 13th, in modern times, is perhaps the most romanticised and misunderstood day-date combination in the Gregorian calendar. It is associated with everything from ghosts and evil spirits to vampires and werewolves. There is no consensus about the origins of the mysticism and myth behind the date, and the dread it is intended to strike. However, of the different possible origins, the most tangible and perhaps historically believable one, is tied to the Order of the Knights Templar, and the events of Friday, October 13, 1307.

In the year 1095 A.D., Pope Urban II, in his speech at the Council of Clermont, called for a Crusade to recapture Jerusalem and the Holy Lands from the Saracens. This was the beginning of the First Crusade. According to Robert the Monk, a chronicler in the early 12th century, Urban II's speech so excited the crowd that when he finished speaking they cried out “Deus Vult! Deus Vult!”; Latin for “God wills it”. Deus Vult (pronounced Day-us Wult), later became the battle cry of the Knights Templar, and the de facto motto of the Crusades.

For two centuries, between 1096 A.D. and 1271 A.D., there were eight major crusades fought for the Holy Land, with the Knights Templar involved in all of them, in some way, shape or form. Perhaps their most well known military action was during the Third Crusade, at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin in 1187 A.D., when the Crusaders faced the great Saracen Sultan, Salah-ud-Din, better known to history as Saladin. It was here that the Crusaders carried the relic of the True Cross into battle, and regrettably lost not only the battle, and eventually Jerusalem, but also the remnants of the True Cross to Salah-ud-Din, who sent it off to Damascus, never to be seen again.

By the end of the Eighth Crusade, the Knights Templar had become a powerful political force in Europe. In 1306 A.D., their headquarters were in the region of Champagne, in France. The Crusades had ended with the loss of the Holy Land, and the Crusaders didn’t have a battle to fight. The Order, however, had tremendous financial power. Within France, the Templars were a "state within a state", paid no taxes to the King of France, and answered only to the Pope. The French king, Philip IV, had inherited an essentially bankrupt kingdom, and the Order of the Knights Templar bankrolled his reign. Consequently, he was deeply in debt to the Templars. In his desperation to get out of this debt and their ever growing influence over the Crown, Philip IV set into motion a chain of events that would lead to the end of the Order of the Knights Templar.

And so, at dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, under the order of Philip IV of France, and his minister, William de Nogaret, every Templar in France was arrested and imprisoned. It is estimated that about 600 Templars, including the Master of the Paris Temple (or the Paris headquarters of the Knights Templar) Grand Master Jacques de Molay were taken into custody. Charges levied against them included heresy, devil worship and desecration of the Cross, sexual misconduct, fraud and financial corruption. While the Crusaders appealed to Pope Clement V to intervene, such aid never came. The Templars were imprisoned, tortured, killed, and many knights forced to confess to these charges.

The incidences of Friday the 13th were only the beginning of persecutions against the Templars that soon spread across Europe. Most of those arrested on October 13, 1307 were imprisoned, tortured for years and executed on trumped up charges. Eventually, in 1311 A.D., a Church Council held at Vienne handed down the final verdict that The Order of the Knights Templar was to be disbanded and should cease to exist.

Finally, on March 18, 1314, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, and his fellow Templar Geoffrey of Charney were taken to the île-des-Javiaux near Paris, where they were burnt alive at the stake.

For centuries, the Order of the Knights Templar were the tip of the spear - figuratively and literally - of Christendom, in an age of tremendous religious strife. It is conceivable that the day and date of the beginning of their end was the source of the myth behind Friday the 13th. In medieval Europe, this “misfortune” that the Templars faced, laced with treachery and betrayal, supposedly gave rise to the fear that Friday the 13th is still associated with today, around the world. As the order faded away, the religious Crusaders would perhaps see the will of God in this act as well. Perhaps, this too, as they would say, was “Deus Vult!

Debasish Chakraverty holds two Master’s degrees, including one from the University of South Florida. History and its preservation, however, remain his true passion.