The Scottish Knights Templar are the spiritual and organizational descendants of those Knights Templar who existed in Scotland before the famous exile of 1307 A.D., and those Templar knights who fled to Scotland from France during the exile. As such, we claim unbroken succession to Chevalier Hugh de Payens and the other eight knights who founded the Order in 1118 A.D.
We were one of the permanent military forces in the Holy Land during the Crusades. There were never enough Templars, or Hospitallers, or Teutonic Knights to hold onto the Holy Land by themselves, however; the majority of the “secular” knights left after looting and plundering. The last major Templar garrison in the Holy Land fell during the battle of Acre in 1293; the Templars were going to surrender with a promise of safe conduct to the harbor, but when the Templar commander saw that the invading Mamluks were molesting the Christian women, he told the Mamluks that the Templars would fight to death–and that is exactly what they did, after exacting a terrible toll among the invaders.
The Order was preparing for another Crusade in 1307 when the king of France, King Philip IV, had the Templars in that country arrested on false charges of heresy. The king was virtually bankrupt and wanted to steal the Templars’ treasure; the individual knights owned nothing, but the Order had acquired considerable wealth because they were acting as international bankers. Pilgrims going to the Holy Land could deposit money in a Templar treasury and receive a “chit” in exchange; as they traveled toward Jerusalem, they could stop in Templar temples and withdraw money, with their “chits” being annotated in a special Templar cipher that indicated how much money was remaining in their accounts.
The Pope at the time, Clement V, was a virtual captive of the French king, and was unable to prevent the king from obtaining false confessions through torture. Canon law, by the way, prohibited torturing members of a religious Order, but the king was not dissuaded. As soon as the torture stopped, however, the Templars recanted their false confessions, and were then burned at the stake. That was also the fate of our Grandmaster, Jacques de Molay, who was burned at the stake along with the Preceptor of Normandy. History records that the Pope died a month later, and the king of France died four months later. It is now known that Pope Clement exonerated the Templars in a secret trial held at Chinon castle; the document that records the exoneration of the Templars is now known as the “Chinon document,” and is in the Vatican archives.
The Order fled to Portugal and Scotland. Those knights who reached Portugal simply changed their names to the Knights of Christ. In Scotland they were welcomed by King Robert the Bruce, himself excommunicated by the Catholic Church, and helped to train his forces for their encounter at Bannockburn. A group of Templars led a charge into the English formations, and thus helped to win not only the Battle of Bannockburn, but also independence for Scotland. Because the Order had been suppressed by the Catholic Church, it went from a papal Order to an Order chartered by the King of Scotland. Although the Scottish Templars now served a secular ruler, they never forgot their ecclesiastical roots, and vowed to continue serving Christ and His church on earth. After his excommunication was lifted, Robert the Bruce combined the Scottish Knights Templar with the Knights Hospitaller, per the instruction of the new pope, but the Scottish Templars nevertheless retained a strong, separate identity. In fact, the only real change for the Scottish Templars, other than losing some land holdings to the Hospitallers, was that the red Cross on their mantles changed from a Latin Cross to a Maltese Cross.
Scottish history and Templarism have been intertwined since 1307 A.D. James Graham, 5th Earl of Montrose, was a Templar who was hanged because of his right for religious freedom. Viscount Bonnie Dundee was killed at the Battle of Killiecrankie while wearing the Templar Cross, and Prince Bonnie Prince Charlie was a Templar Grandmaster when he tried to restore the Stuart line in 1745.
Today, the Order has priories in Scotland, the USA, Canada, Lebanon, New Zealand, and Pakistan, and is affiliated with other Templar groups in Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Australia.
The Scottish Knights Templar priory in the United States is known as the Priory of the Holy Angels. The Order suffered a schism in 2005, when the then Grandmaster attempted to return the order to a Papal leadership. Efforts were made at discharging knights who did not profess the Catholic faith. The Order in the United States decried this abuse, and formed the Sovereign Military Order of Christian Knights Templar (SMOCKT), maintaining our non-denominational stance. The Order in Scotland later deposed the Grandmaster, and invalidated the knighthoods and promotions he made, makingthe Knights in the U.S. that followed his lead illegitimate. The Sovereign Military Order of Christian Knights Templar was invited to return to the Scottish Order, which was declined in favor of continuing under our new charter. We maintain equitable relations with the Order, which has its headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland. The chief Templar officer in the United States is His Sovereign Excellency Rev. Charles R. Jones, the Grand Prior General for the worldwide Order of SMOCKT.
We are focused on two principal goals: to perform charitable works for the poor, and to defend the persecuted church.
More Christians were martyred in the last century than in all previous centuries combined. Unless we get the Islamic and Communist countries to stop persecuting Christians, the 21st century will be a tragic repeat of the 20th. We are working very hard to focus attention on the plight of persecuted Christians in foreign lands, and worked especially hard to free one of our own brothers, Chevalier Reverend Parvez Masih, who had been in prison in Sialkot, Pakistan, for two years for “insulting the Prophet.” The penalty upon conviction–the only penalty–is death. Reverend Masih now lives as a free man in Canada.
You will see evidence of other “Templar” groups in the world, but we ask you to be cautious. Some are simply in the business of selling knighthoods and other titles, but in our Order they are not for sale, at any price. We bestow internationally recognized knighthoods on those who wish to dedicate themselves to serving our Lord, but we accept no payment for granting these titles. After all, what would be the value in a title you had to purchase?
We are not about money, but we are about a holy commitment to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart and soul. We have five rules within our Order:
1. The Temple and Service thereof—“Remember, brothers, that we are the descendants of the ‘Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ’ who first held their meetings in the precincts of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. We must contemplate the word and meaning of the Temple. Remember also that we are but rough stones and must continuously work to build our own Temple with the smooth stones within us.”
2. The Love of Meditation—“Recognize with gladness that we are neither lost, nor strangers to God, but one of His good creatures, and in our Temple we shall meet people from many nations and religions. There is no shame in seeking God; forget not when we ponder that God’s Temple is our own being. God will not look for us, but we first must seek Him. Each day, time must be put aside for meditation and prayers for our Order and its work.”
3. Discipline—“The principles of St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s life are still valid today. We must care for body and soul. Work happily, but with humility and at all times honor your fellow man.”
4. Knightly Combat—“Our white garments decorated with the Blood Red Cross reminds each of us that we must be capable of making sacrifices. Do not strive for worldly wealth—perhaps tomorrow we might have to give account of ourselves. We shall not know, until it is too late, for excuses are not acceptable to the Greatest Being, Almighty God.”
5. Brotherhood—“Each day we must help our brethren for whom we are responsible, for one day God will say, ‘Where is thy Brother?’ Accept no reward, always be a pillar of the Temple, for all the Order holds for us is the opportunity to flee the sins of the world, to live charitably, to be penitent, and above all, to be the servant of Almighty God.”
As true Templars, we must always be prepared for battle in either the temporal or spiritual realms. Our oaths require moral courage and our way of life demands dedication to our knightly ideals. The true knight is, of course, humble before the Lord and his fellow man. If a true Templar would boast about anything, he boasts in our Lord!