Key to the Sacred Pattern

18 October 2007

700th Anniversary of the Knights Templar Arrest in Paris

There is an unmistakable power in the first rays of sunlight peaking over the horizon. The renewal of daybreak vanquishing the darkness and despair of night is not only an esoteric metaphor, but in some cases a physical reality. Soldiers, parents of sick children, and disheartened souls have but a single prayer in the darkness, “Please God, just let me make it through this one night. Everything will be fine in the morning. Just help me make it through until morning.”
The journey from darkness into the light is all part of life’s natural progression. That was until the dawn broke on 13 October 1307. French sheriffs broke the seals on their orders at dawn, those that could read saw the words, “By order of Phillip the Fair; arrest all Templars.” The prayers of all Templars that day would turn the natural progression into, “God, just let me make it thought this one day.”
At 8:07 AM this October 13th, my wife Laura and I made our way to the site Jacque DeMolay was burned at the stake. Paris was barely alive as we started out that Saturday morning. Drunken revelers from the night before and those unlucky enough to be on their way to work were all that rode the Metro that morning. Each stop that got us closer to the Ile de la cité made me a little antsier about what we might find at dawn’s break.
For years, I had planed this trip. For the last eight years, I had wanted to be at this place at sunrise on this day. It wasn’t the type of Richard Dreyfuss’ obsession in Close Encounters of the Third Kind to get to Devil’s Tower, but a nagging in the back of my mind. I had told myself that no romantic notions of shadowy figures handing me documents clouded my vision. Just a simple wish to connect with an important part of history drove the though on.
The train stopped at Cité station around 7:40, a quick ten minute walk and we were at the Pont Neuf bridge. We hustled down a long staircase from the bridge to the park below. Before breaking the bottom stair, I looked back at my wife and gave her a secret smile. Prematurely thanking her for following me on my quixotic vision half way around the world for some unknown payoff.
At the bottom of the staircase we found the plaque that marks the place Jacque DeMolay was burned at the stake in 1314. In a city of ornate and larger than life monuments, the plaque is much too simple a marker for the injustice that happened at that spot. Below the marker we found a spray of long stemmed white roses with a ribbon that read, “Geoffrey de Charney” and burned out votive candle. A simple memorial left to the man that followed DeMolay into the flames.
Sitting a few feet below where the flowers were located was a man that could have been Johnny Depp’s younger brother. There was nothing else there that morning. No grand group of those that wished to remember, no messages left to honor those who had gone before us, just my wife, I and Johnny Depp. We didn’t speak to Johnny, but it was obvious he was there for the same reason we were. Digital camera in hand, Johnny gauged us in the same way we looked at him. Somehow, we must have thought it irreverent to have spoken in that predawn moment.
Laura and I stood there until the sun rose over the Pont Neuf bridge and I wondered how horrible this day must have been 700 years ago. From this point then, one could have seen both Notre Dame and the Temple’s headquarters. One can only imagine what extra bit of punishment it must have been for DeMolay and de Charney.
After a few pictures and my silent vigil, we decided to catch some breakfast and head to Temple Square. All that is left of the Templar’s headquarters has been made into a playground and garden. In the park is also a small pond that was possibly built with some of the foundation stones from Templar’s keep.
When Laura and I got to the park, we found the same thing Phillip the Fair’s men found that morning. There was a hint of the Templars, but none of the Knight’s treasures. Behind a low railing and close to the pond, there was another floral arraignment. This time it was red roses in the shape of a cross in a field of white roses. Having Laura play lookout, I jumped the barrier to get a closer look. At the head of the arraignment was a small flag with a red cross, the Templar motto “Non Nobis Domine Non Nobis Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam” and the dates 1118, 1307, 1312, and 1314.
That was all that was evident of the Knights Templar in Paris that day. Someone had traveled to the same places we did for the same reasons, but no more. There were no organized remembrances or grand “happening” in Paris that day I was aware of. As Laura and I walked away from Temple Square, I turned to her and told her that I thought I was on a fool’s errant. Secretly I had hoped something would happen, someone would be at those places, and some part of the mystery would be swept away.
Laura looked at me almost angrily and reminded me that I should never think that. I was scolded into remembering what I’ve said so many times over, that our quests are our own and for that I had succeeded. God love her, she’s much wiser than me. In my slight shame for doubting my purpose, I remembered that the pilgrimage was to honor those that had been such a fascination for me for so long. In that I had succeeded. At that, I took Laura’s hand and we set out to explore more of Paris and to remember why I had came.



Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you for the photos. The first I've seen of this location. Thank you for caring.


07737654322 said...

thank you for your fotos and information, we are here in paris on our own templar trails, we were astonished at the lack of knowledge and the ignorance of the locals, a grave lack of respect and too easy to forget thier heritage !

thanks again

John & Mari (K T Scotland)