(the official OSMTH
position on the subject (taken from their website
The Order of the Temple was founded in 1804 by
Fabré-Palaprat and carries since 1932 the name Ordo Supremus Militaris
Templi Hierosolymitani (where "Supremus" is sometimes translated imprecisely
as "sovereign"). During World War II all records and archives were
transferred to the Grand Prior of Portugal, Antonio Campello de Sousa
Fontes. The latter, profiting from the confusion after the war, assumed
the Regency until his resignation in June 1956, due to ill health. For the
following four years, the Order remained without a leader, as no Regent was
ever elected between then and Antonio Fontes' death on February 15, 1960.
Immediately thereafter, Fontes' own son, Don Fernando Campello Pinto
Pereira de Sousa Fontes, assumed the Regency motu proprio, claiming that
his father had designated him as his legitimate successor as Regent in a
typewritten amendment of his testament -- in spite of the democratic
traditions and Statutes of the Order, which have always called for
elections. It is interesting to note that the original testament was dated
August 20, 1948, while the typewritten amendment was certified by a notary
on February 26, 1960 -- eleven days after Fontes' death.
In spite of past irregularities, in 1970 most Grand
Priories were ready to accept the status quo and officially elect Sousa
Fontes Jr. to the post of Regent -- as he could at least be credited for the
worldwide expansion of the Order. However, a few French, Belgian and Swiss
Priories elected the Grand Prior of France of the time, Antoine
Zdrojewski, and broke away.
Zdrojewski's scission had been skillfully engineered by
the Service d'Action Civique (SAC), a Gaullist parallel police whose mission
was to maintain the French government in place by all means fair or foul.
Given the political situation of the time (the height of cold war), many if
not all societies that had a potential for "transversal, transnational
bonds" were infiltrated and manipulated. OSMTJ (as Zdrojewski's organization
was known in France) did not survive in France past the mid-seventies, and
remained active only for a few more years in Switzerland, under the
leadership of Alfred Zappelli -- another obscure personage. Today,
there remain only a few scattered and isolated Priories in Belgium and Italy
that still hold Zdrojewski's filiation.
Notwithstanding the aberration of OSMTJ-Zdrojewski, all
of the current OSMTH Priories derive from those Priories that (1) remained
under, (2) reverted to, or (3) retained an autonomous status but were
recognized by Sousa Fontes. However, this is not to say that Sousa Fontes'
willing and unwilling associates were happy with their leader, given his
despotic and undemocratic leadership, his utter contempt for transparency,
and blatant mismanagement.
As a logical consequence, the International Grand
Council of OSMTH, the legislative body of the Order, withdrew all
recognition of Fontes as head of OSMTH (Salzburg Convent, 1995) and adopted
democratically several resolutions to restructure and modernize the Order.
OSMTH now comprises the Grand Priories of Austria, Canada, England & Wales,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, NATO, Serbia, and the USA
(formerly nicknamed the "Atlantic Obedience"), and their several mentored
sub-units including Japan, South Africa, Spain, San Marino, Norway, Sweden,
Denmark, Bulgaria, and several others.
Furthermore, autonomous Grand Priories in Portugal,
Belgium, and Australia -- and a few priories affiliated with them -- also
consistently refuse, for the very same reasons, to recognize the primacy of
Fontes. However, each of these Grand Priories prefers to retain
autonomous status and work on a more regional basis.
Finally, the followers of Fontes -- few and
scattered -- refused to accept the 1995 democratic vote. To this day they
claim to be the one and only legitimate OSMTH, and in their literature and
web sites they portray the "others" as schismatic heretics who "have been
expelled" or "pretenders" who have dishonored an alleged "loyalty oath" akin
to personality worship. (We shall not give these claims status by commenting
There exist two further groups that use similar names and
Catalan Branch" was founded in 1959 by "Prince" Grau-Montezuma-Rife, who
claims to be a descendant of the Aztec emperor Montezuma. It is neither
affiliated nor recognized by any of the OSMTH factions described above.
a Templar group originally founded in Brasil. This Order claims that the
ailing Antonio Fontes entrusted "Prince" Gabriel Jnellas Paleologo with
the regency of the Order, in a letter dated 1956. The claim appears to be
OSMTH (CH-660.1.972999-4) and affiliated bodies:
Democratic, governed by elected officers, coordinated, transparent.
Activities: charitable and educational (peace education).
not offer spiritual teachings of any kind beyond mainstream Christian
not claim direct descent from medieval Templars.
not claim sovereignty under international law (despite the traditional
Autonomous Grand Priories
Democratic, not coordinated (autonomous G.P.). Limited transparency.
Activities: charitable and educational, including philosophical teachings
regarding descent and legal status unclear.
"Regency" (Fontes loyalists)
Autocratic, under Fontes. Did not accept 1995 vote and continue to
consider themselves as the only "legitimate OSMTH," vehemently portraying
all others as schismatic or expelled. Nebulous.
Activities: unknown. Offer esoteric-mystical teachings.2
direct descent from medieval Templars via the mythical "Larmenius Charter
Sovereign status under international law.4
Allegedly democratic. Limited transparency.
Activities: charitable and educational, including philosophical teachings
regarding descent and international legal status unclear.
1. Under "traditional Templarism," we understand a
philosophy of personal spiritual development based on the inherent dignity
of Man, Ecumenism and Unity. Not limited to some branches of OSMTH, but
rather a common element in the neo-Templar world, it originated in the
romantic period and was based on what the legendary beliefs of the Templars
were thought to be.
OSMTH (CH-660.1.972999-4) values the culture in which
"traditional Templarism" was born, and values all teachings that can
contribute to a solid basis for contemporary ethics. However, OSMTH
considers all the symbolism and legends that impregnate "traditional
Templarism" outdated; consequently it neither teaches nor follows that path.
OSMTH follows exclusively mainstream Christian ethics (read in a modern and
dynamic key), practices Ecumenical spirituality, and concentrates on
practical modern issues.
2. Fontes has established a so-called "Haut Magistère,"
based in Geneva, which is a nebulous inner circle (unkown to/rejected by
all other Templar bodies), in which members are allegedly taught
esoterics, presumably of Martinist inspiration.
3. The Larmenius Chart gives the list of secret Grand
Masters from Jacques de Molay (the last G.M. of the historic Templars) to
Fabré-Palaprat. It is an interesting piece of neo-Templar folklore -- but
unlikely to be genuine, according to mainstream historians. Except for the
followers of Fontes, no Templar group bases its identity (or claims to
legitimacy) on this legend.
4. OSMTH: Supremus, in Latin, means highest, or sublime. The
translation "sovereign," although very common, is incorrect. Even more so is
any claim to be a "Sovereign Chivalric Order" under international law, which
is tantamount to pure fantasy.