The Sovereign Military Order
the Temple of Jerusalem
Priory of St. James
Newsletter February 2009
Prior: Matthew Gaasenbeek
Greetings Fellow Dames & Knights:
This is the first issue of St James Priorys Newsletter which will
be published six times a year (alternate months you will receive a
letter from our Prior). This is your vehicle in which to share
news, pictures, jokes, book reviews, travel to Templar sites,
upcoming events of interest to other members, and just about
anything else you can think up.
BlessingsnnDnnNola, Alastair, William & Harold,
Your Editorial Team
Investiture of the Priory of St James
On Saturday the
25th of October 2008, God blessed us with a beautiful
day to welcome nine new members into our Priory and two on
behalf of the Grand Prior of Canada, H.E. Sir Ronald Matthewman,
who invested them. This year the postulants were provided with
a good deal of information before the Investiture and were
expected to prepare themselves for the day with pray, study and
meditation: that they would be ready to take on the
responsibility of membership within the Order.
service we adjourned to dinner at the Royal Canadian Military
Institute for a reception and dinner. At the dinner a number of
members were table hosts, each one ensuring that at least one
new Templar joined them. Both veteran and new members enjoyed
the opportunity to get to know each other better and to learn of
the many new talents that have been added to our Priory.
It is always
difficult to enumerate the many talents and time given to such
an event without forgetting someone or misallocating the credit,
however, special credit must go to our Past Prior, Sir George
MacNeillie, whose experience was essential to the smooth running
of the day, to Sir Alan Williams, the Master of Postulants, to
Sir Michael Willson who produced the invitations and programmes
which have become a hallmark of our Priory and to Dame Dai
Gaasenbeek who organized the dinner at the Royal Military
Institute which followed and ensured an appropriately festive
conclusion to the solemnity of the great Church of St James.
from the investiture, which tell the tale far better than does
this prose, are to be found on our website at,
U.S.A. Grand Priory Investiture
Dame Sheila Disney & Chev. William Upper
Upper and his wife, Linda, represented Canada at the Militum
Christi navigum MMVIII: the first Grand Council Meeting,
Grant Convent Investiture and Change of Command at sea in
over 717 years. The Uppers flew from Ottawa to Fort
Lauderdale and boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship for a
memorable and historic event. During the cruise Major
General Robert C.G. Disney, Grand Prior XV was honoured for
is two year term as USA Grand Prior. Witnessing the change
of command from Prior XV to the new Grand Prior XVI HE Col (Ret'd)
Chevalier Wayne J. McGrath, GCTJ CMTJ was an honour. This
takes place every two years in the USA where the Prior is
elected for a two-year term but this was the first time at
sea. Other differences noted included their awarding of
awards for Legion of Merit, appreciation plaques,
meritorious service awards and the Distinguished Service
award. Knights and Dames were also elevated to the Dignity
of Grand Croix, along wth inductions into the National Order
of merit and the Grand Commander of the Order of Merit: all
VERY impressive. Ports of call included Key West and Puerto
Plata were a variety of sites were visited: from the
shoreline by a coral reef to a visit to Ernest Hemmingway's
home. Chev. William was extremely proud to make a
presentation of a Canadian flag and see it dead centre on
stage for all the ceremonies. Such a trip serves as an eye
opener to the breadth and depth and variety of other
national priories and proved personally inspirational for
our Registrar and demonstrated aspirations for the years to
Fiuggi, Italy 19 - 22 November 2008
cocktail reception launched the Convent in Fiiggi, Italy.
Unfortunately, the following day there was nothing planned (other than
an evening harp concert) for those who were not numbered among the
fourteen Grand Priors who met in camera throughout the day.
Templars being a friendly lot, by dinnertime the various hotels in which
we were accommodated had become home to groups of Templars from various
priories throughout the world meeting, learning and thoroughly enjoying
themselves. At the Relais Le Felci they were from the Mexican Grand
Priory. Drinks and cookies turned into cocktails which turned into a
delicious dinner with a roaring fire.
down to work and into a fascinating debate on changes proposed for our
coat of arms. The Americans want to retain the Crown, insisting it
represents our sovereignty.
While the British, NATO and the Belgians (who presented an alternative
had very persuasive arguments against the inclusion of a crown.
ultimate decision was to change the crown to that of a 14th
century drawing of the King of Jerusalems imaginary crown, but make it
from iron rather than gold.
Discussions then turned to the international newspaper and web-news
options. In future, there will be two issues of the magazine which may
be provided on a disc for each Grand Prior to decide how to
disseminate. The Editor however, is concerned about losing control of
the quality of printing but postage costs dictated the decision.
made an impressive presentation on charitable works under the title of
Many Nations, One Priory. The Grand Priors were back in
seclusion and the session was poorly attended because many were unaware
of this unofficial option. The topics ranged from pairing gifted
students with slow learners to increase acceptance of their needs to
Model UN Assemblies and archaeological digs on Templar Sites in Israel
from an Italian professor.
brought more discussions during the Annual General meeting but confirmed
the decisions of he previous day.
meeting was relatively short and formal but there was insufficient time
to receive the reports from all the Priories.
and the National Priories, including the Italian Time Line Project
completed, every adjourned to robe for the evening in their finest and
boarded the buses at 3:30 for the Church and Investiture, where the
surprise highlight was our own Grand Prior officiating at the blessing
of the marriage of Grand Marshall Simon Comte de Saint Claire and his
The Wedding Blessings given by
Our Grand Prior, the Revd
Chev. Ronald Matthewman
to the hotel where the final grand reception & banquet brought to an end
the 2008 Convent hosted by Italy. Now its on to Toronto in 2010...
The exciting news
from Membership is that they are planning a tour of Templar Castles
in France. The focus of the tour would be to encourage current and
potential members to walk in the footsteps of Templar history. If
you are interested in joining this great adventure, contact Chev.
Edward Rayment at 905-465-2810 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
the home base for the tour at
Committee has set a goal of 25 new Knights and Dames and are
confident that this can be done if members will forward their
recommendations of men and women who have the necessary qualities to
enhance our membership. The Committee has new Postulant Application
forms which may be obtained from Chev. Edward or the Prior. Feel
free to make the first advance or the Committee will contact
potential Templars for you.
Is looking forward
to a Spring garden Party, a summer day in the County at the Prior's
farm and a new locale for the Investiture dinner . . . more details
The International Scene
A visit to the frequently updated OSMTH
site is always worthwhile in keeping up with the international
There are two Grand Magisterial council
meetings in 2009. These are business meetings, unlike the
International Convent which we will be hosting in Toronto 23-25
September 2010. However, if you have an interest in visiting
these countries, you may well be able to tie your interests in
with one of these meetings and have an opportunity to see
Sofia, Bulgaria is the host from 23-25
April 2009. If you are interested, contact
From 22 to 24 October 2009, the Knights
Templar of Portugal will be hosting an international business
meeting and promise tours to many sites associated with the
Templars in their country. One of them is now an UNESCO
historical site at
http://www.manorhouses.com/unesco/whtomar.html. As more news
arrives about the meeting in Portugal, well pass it along.
Meeting Templars from other countries is a great way to
understand how vast the operation is and how many lives are
touched for the better because of this organization which joins
us all together.
Our Templars do get around. Dame
Barbara Bowles-Davis is off to six weeks in Thailand as part
of a Medicine without Borders mission. We look forward to an
evening of adventure stories from Dame Barbara on her
return. This is not her first trip of mercy... for years
she has been travelling to South and Central America
bringing health care to those who most need it.
The Quest for Freedom
from Religious Persecution
Throughout our history we have fought for the free
passage of Christians to our holy sites and protected them against
bandits and hostile lands. In the 21st century, our mandate
is broader. Our Order internationally defends the value of Freedom of
Religion in a world divided by religious differences and where
professing ones faith may threaten ones life. To that end, we intend
to provide our membership with information on the worlds trouble spots:
where people are dying for their faith. On the level of a Priory, or
even the Grand Priory, we do not take individual positions in these
matters. That is left to the representations of the Order by the
International Commander who speaks for all of us, thereby ensuring that
there is one strong and firm voice, backed by thousands of Knights and
Dames. However, as private individuals, some members may wish to voice
their opinion on this sorry state and will find these postings in our
Newsletter of interest and assistance.
I have kept all these (commandments) since my youth. Jesus, looking at
him, loved him and said, You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and
give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then
come, follow me.
-Gospel of Mark
What did he lack? He was obedient and successful and was rewarded well
with possessions. But possessions are not enduring rewards, these can be
let go. Love holds fast. Jesus loves him even with all his
misunderstandings, hearing his hope and desire. Jesus loves him for his
desire to understand how to please God, hoping to be a good person.
Jesus loves him so he teaches him that love's rewards are love itself.
Love is the goodness of God. Jesus calls this man to love as he calls
all of us. Our call is to seek to follow and live as Christ, with deep
love, giving what we have to our world, sharing our bread and shelter,
and releasing others to the freedom to love.
Dear Christ, our guide to peace and justice, our light to love. We wrap
ourselves in the mantle of your call, drawing our hearts to bring your
hope to our actions. Giving God, we thank you for the number of our
days, may we live well in our world, offering what we have, knowing this
way is the receiving of love. In the presence of the Holy Spirit we
rejoice in the journey we have been given. Amen.
Matthewman has been busy checking out the hotel facilities in
Toronto in preparation for the 2010 Convent. Final quotes and
facilities are currently being tallied. Expect to find out where we
will be playing host to the world in our next issue.
Every Dame and
Knight is expected to contribute both time and finances to the
success of the Priory. Being a member of a Committee is one of
those responsibilities. For those who find it difficult to attend
meetings in Toronto, may we suggest becoming part of the On-Line
Team whose primary responsibility is to publish this newsletter.
If you would like to meet your Priory commitments in this way,
write and let us know what you would like to take on . . . and
Templar Thunder Hole At Maryculter on the South
Deeside Road, just off the B9077 sits Maryculter House Hotel.
Centuries ago this was a community of the Knights Templar (known as
a preceptory), a strict order of holy knights who were committed to
protecting pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem during the Crusades.
The preceptory was founded by Walter Bisset in 1230.
Godfrey Wedderburn Of Wedderhill A knight called Godfrey
Wedderburn of Wedderhill was wounded whilst on a Crusade at the Holy
Lands. He was nursed by a Saracen woman. They became friends during
his recovery and then Godfrey returned to the preceptory. The
Saracen woman came to visit him a few years later at the preceptory.
The head of the preceptory (known as the preceptor) thought they
were lovers and that Godfrey was not pure and had broken his vows.
He ordered Godfrey to kill himself using his own dagger. On hearing
this the Saracen woman killed herself by stabbing her heart. As she
died she cursed the preceptor. A lightning bolt struck him, killing
him instantly. It left a large hollow in the ground. It can still be
seen today and is known as The Thunder Hole.
A Templar visiting Paris should never
miss a pilgrimage to Pont Neuf . . .
Dame Nola Crewe, GOTJ
. and the scene of the crime, the site of Jacques de Molays infamous
martyrdom: the result of a conspiracy between a weak Pope to whom de
Molay had been loyal and a King for whose desire for control meant the
destruction of the Order which de Molay would not sacrifice.
JACQUES DE MOLAY
DERNIER GRAND MAITRE
DE LORDRE DU TEMPLE
A ETE BRULE LE 18 MARS
Square du Vert-Galant
Jusqua la construction du
Pont Neuf, lile de la Cite se terminait par le Jardin du Roi, ou fut
edifice la place Dauphine. La pointe actuelle de lile est constituee
de la reuion de trois ilots a la Cite, assise centre du nouveau pont.
Lile du nod, nomme ile du Patriarche, se prolong edit a lest par un
minuscule ilot portant un moulin, dit de la Gourdaine puis de la
Monnaie, car son energie hydraulique etait utilisee pour battre le
monnayage royal. Celur de sud, le plus grand, etait dil ile aux Bureau,
car il appartonait a [portair of a Knight templar] Hughes Bureau a la
fin du XVe siecle. Le 11 mars 1314, Jacques de Molay, grand maitre de
lordre du Temple, et Guy, commandeur des Templiers de Normandie y
furent brules vis.
A Templar comes to honour the man,
the last Prior of the original Knights Templar, and finds in the weeping
willow, standing at the islands end, a fit emblem and place to
meditate. This land has known so much violence in its history . . . but
this type that involves tyranny and disloyalty and vengeance. The blood
of martyrs may strengthen the faith: but what faith when the purveyors
of terror are the very faiths and nations leaders? Avarice and
deception should not tell the story of kings and popes. There is a tale
of a man leaping from the crowd as Louis XVI was beheaded and dipping
his hand in the blood, then shouting out that de Molay was avenged. I
cannot believe Molay would have found comfort in that. In death he
reclaimed his honour. In life he was human, subject to the failings of
flesh and spirit. But chivalry is made of such as these. And chivalry
is what we seek.
A garden now covers the place where
de Molay was immiolated.
Templar Seals: Matter of Interpretation
In the Newsletter,
we will be publishing articles that may answer questions you have
about the Order, its symbols and history. This month we have an
article originally published by the Grand Priory of the USA by Dr.
Robert Kovark, GCTJ, seeking to clarify the differing
interpretations on Templar Seals.
use of seals can be traced back to the Ancient World. The Christian
Church was among the first to use seals on official documents in the
Medieval West. Latin served as the Medieval liturgical and legal
language. The cleric elite provided the service of producing
necessary documents for rulers and nobility, particularly with
regard to inheritance and the transfer of property. This process
was reminscent of the scribes of Ancient Egypt. With the vernacular
language being a hodgepode of dialects and the visual being more
important than the written, seals became a necessary means of
identification and verification. Symbols based on religious and/or
family iconography were adopted for seals. Unlike other religious
orders, the Knights Templar was unique as a mixture of temporal and
the spiritual, the warrior and the monk. Since most members were
drawn from the nobility and were illiterate, seals became a
necessity for Templar transactions. As the Order expanded over much
of Europe after 1128, a structure for governance was created based
on provinces or langues,
reflecting regional linguistic and ethnic differences. Such
provinces were headed by a Master or Preceptor. Since the most
important one was the Kingdom of
its Master was recognized as the Orders head. One result was there
was no common seal for the Order and each Master/Preceptor adopted
his own. The Pascal Lamb was symbolic of Christ, who had shed His
blood for the redemption of many. Templars, like Christ, would shed
their blood in defense of Christianity. The Agnus Dei was
also favored in Provence, while in Aragon/Catalonia seals often
featured a knight on a horse or a fortress. How did the two knights
on a horse become the official seal of the Knights Templar?"
The iconic image of two knights on a horse developed out of a
tradition based on the humble origins of the Templars. This seal
became the most common for French Templars. It became the Official seal of the Order inasmuch as the majority of the Masters
from 1128 to 1312 were of French origin".
The earliest known example is that of the sixty Master,
Bertrand De Blanquefort in 1168.
An examination of this seal reveals two knights on a horse, each
holding a shield emblazoned with the Cross and a lance. The wording
from right to left is
Sigillum militum Xpristi. Seal
of the Companions of Christ. The problem is one of interpretation.
One such is based on the chronicler, William, Archbishop of Tyre, in
the late 12th century. Being quite critical of his
contemporary Templars, he overemphasized the poverty of the Order at
its beginning providing credence for the legend of two Templars
having to use one horse. This view was partly based on the earliest
name of the Order: Pauperes commilitones Christor Poor Companions of Christ. What did the term Pauperes
mean? Does it mean poverty, literally, or is it symbolic pf the
poverty of Christ and His first disciples? These knights, by taking
monastic vows became partial monks; saw themselves as imitating the
poverty and humbleness of Christ. I prefer the symbolic
interpretation over the literal one.
There are two other opinions regarding the interpretation. The seal
came to symbolize the Orders charity fulfilling the biblical call
of loving ones neighbour, even to the point of sacrificing ones
life. Another view is that the seal symbolized brotherhood and
loyalty. In the midst of battle, if a Templar was unhorsed, his
brother would rescue him. Although no evidence has surfaced as to
when this seal was first used, it is interesting to note that the
Templar Rule forbade the sharing of horses and provided that each
Templar Knight would have two horses.
On the obverse side of Bertrand de Blanquforts seal is a dome
church with the words "de Templo Cristi,
Of the church of Christ. While some historians have concluded it
is church of the Holy Sepulcher, they remain few. Most argue for
the Dome of the Rock. In 1099 this Moslem shrine was converted into
a church called the Church of Christ or of the Lord,
administered by canons of St. Augustine. William of Tyre mentions
that the Templars fulfilled their religious duties in the courtyard
of the Templum Domini, Church of the Lord, located south of the
former Al-Aqsa mosque, on the Templar headquarters. This image
became the most common on the obverse side of Templar seals.
Perhaps this essay will help clarify the questions surrounding the
official seal of the medieval Knights Templar.
(This article was first published in The Journal of the Autonomous
Grand Prior of the United States Beauseant vol. 11, No. 2,
In our next issue we'll look at what makes a modern Dame/Knight Templar.
Water Project Matthew Gaasenbeek III, Prior II, Priory of St.
My trip to Guatemala was most
memorable. We flew via Houston to Guatemala City where we were
taken by car to Antigua, Guatemalas first capital city which was
destroyed in 1776 and then moved to its present location. Base camp
of Living Water was there. After one and a half days we went about
5 hours by car to La Machina where we stayed at Hotel Seis. This
was our forward camp. The town is very small and poor with Hotel
Seis being the only hotel.
The word hotel is a bit of a
misnomer. It had the feel more that of a jail; steel gates and
steel doors everywhere. My room was a good imitation of a prison
cell, rough conditions with only a cold shower. Food was spartan.
Cold cereals for breakfast, soup with potatoes and parts of ancient
chickens were boiled for lunch and dinner was much the same, if not
worse? But no one got sick, which is remarkable! Snacks were fresh
coconuts and fried bananas prepared by the villagers.
The well itself was drilled in a small village Chicales,
consisting of perhaps 45 cabins with a population of around 250
people, located near the coast about an hour outside La Machina.
Drilling was fast and efficient. There were two
teams of four people each doing a series of jobs. Job #1 was to run
the drill, Job #2 was to set the drill stem, Job #3 was to clear mud
channels leading to mud pits, which circulated the mud fluid through
the drill stem and back, as well as take grit samples to determine
what kind of rock or soil formation we were going through, Job #4
was to record depth, soil samples and number of drill stems. After
each drill stem each member of the team moved one up.
Here are two pictures of our Prior
helping drill the well:-
After two drill stems, second team took over,
while the first team did odd jobs and rested. It was hot and humid
and we were continually told to drink water and sit in the shade.
Most of us however played with the children.
- This was the dirtiest day. At the end of the day when changing,
my pants would have stood up by themselves. There was gumbo mud
everywhere. We drilled down to 120.
Reaming to a 7 hole.
We set the casing to 120 and drill pipe to 100 feet, tested the
water, poured the cement platform and installed bottom end of pump
in the concrete.
We set the sucker rods, valve at bottom, completed and tested hand
pump and the capacity of the well (50 gallons of water a minute) and
had a dedication ceremony. Everyone turned out for that one. The
local preachers, mayor, politicians, big wigs, general population
and lots of children made it into quite a celebration.
Social aspects were wonderful. We were
surrounded by young children who loved the frisbees, balls, stickers
and fancy pencils we had brought. They were all amazingly well
behaved with the older girls (maybe 10-12 years old) in charge and
consoling the odd crying, over-excited, younger child.
The adults thought it was Carnival time. They
had never seen gringos work so hard and get so dirty.
While I was there, I did not think I would want
to go on another trip. It is fairly rough, Spartan and hot. Yet the
experience gets to you and continues to haunt you in a good way.
Now I would probably go back within a year or so.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience, which
I would not have missed for anything.
Priory of St. James 2009 Meeting Schedule
Prior Matthew has
set the 2009 meeting schedule. All meetings are held at the RCMI.
From 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm you may join other Knights & Dames for a
light diner and socialization.
All meetings will commence promptly at 7:30 pm and should be over by
9:00 pm followed by more socializing.
All Knights & Dames are invited: February
9th, April 13th,
June 8th, August 10th, October. 12th,
December 14th. (Note: December 14th is our annual Christmas Party)
Athough all are
invited it is of paramount importance that all Chairs be in
attendance March 9th, May 11th, July 13th,
September 14th, and November 9th.
St. James Priory - Toronto - 24th October
Simon-Peter Ottawa May 23rd Prior of The Ascension of Our Lord -
Windsor - 7th November.