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What is the Knights Templar?
Photographer Michael Scott has discovered a cave hidden behinf a rabbit hole deep in the Shropshire countryside which is thought to have been used by the Knights Templar.
The medieval order was rumoured to have carried around the Holy Grail and may have used the sacred cup in the newly discovered cavern.
What is the Knights Templar?
The Knights Templar was a group of knights who protected Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.
The order of the Knights Templar was founded by French nobleman Hugh de Payens from the Champagne region of France.
The order of the Knights Templar was founded by French nobleman Hugh de Payens
He and eight friends formed the legendary order in Jerusalem around 1119.
The order’s full name was "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon" and were known for wearing white tunics adorned with a blood-red cross.
Over time, the order developed into a group of religious warriors who fought in the Crusades.
They were also known for their elaborate initiation rituals that took place in church at night.
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Knights Templar gathered land and property throughout Europe and the Middle East
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What did the Knights Templar do?
The religious group were known for their valour during the Crusades and gathered land and property throughout Europe and the Middle East thanks to donations from kings, lords and the Church.
Exempt from lay jurisdiction thanks to special permission from the Vatican in 1139, the Knights Templar were afforded special privileges.
They were feared during the Crusades for their fighting power and were often used as the advance shock troops during key battles breaking up opposition lines.
But their power began to dwindle in the mid-12th Century with competition from two other Christian military orders- the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights.
Decades of feuding and the rise of Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, saw the Knights Templar support fade.
The Knights Templar may have guarded the Shroud of Turin
Did they find the Holy Grail?
The Knights Templar were rumoured to carry around the Holy Grail – the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper – after finding the sacred vessel in Jerusalem.
It is thought the Holy Grail remains buried in a private crypt beneath the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.
As well as the Holy Grail, the order may have secretly guarded the Shroud of Turin.
The Shroud is said to be the linen cloth Jesus Christ was buried in after the crucifixion and is said to bear the image of a man.
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Dozens of the Knights Templar were executed
Why were the Knights Templar executed?
The order was disbanded in the 14th Century with many of the Knights meeting their fate on Friday 13 October 1307.
King Philip IV of France ordered for dozens of the French Templars to be arrested accusing the order of worshipping idols, forcing recruits to spit on the Cross and making new knights renounce Christ.
The men were tortured, accused of treason and executed, with other members on the order arrested or moved into other Christian military orders.
The Knights Templar’s property was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller by papal decree.
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Does the Knights Templar exist today?
Today, orders of the Knights Templar exist across the world. In the UK the group of active Christians focus on fundraising and charity work.
Many of the orders come under the OSMTH organisation which is recognised as a Non Governmental Organisation in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
More than 5,000 people are members of the OSMTH worldwide.
The Grand Priory of Knights Templar in the UK say: “Our Order follows the highest chivalric ideals of the medieval Order of Knights Templar which was founded by Hugh de Payens in 1119, but we make no claims to be direct inheritors of their noble history.
"Ours is a modern Order, built on fundraising and charitable activities which aims to improve society as a whole, not only in England and Wales but in the global community of which we are but a small part.”
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