From This is Somerset yesterday:
In August we had a talk, which lived up to the promise of its title, The Knights Templar.
The speaker, Juliet Faith, began with a brief history of those armed monks, founded in 1118 on the continent, to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. They became so powerful and rich that they were hounded out or executed in 1307. All their treasures disappeared overnight and many of the knights fled to England where their lives were spared and where they continued as before, setting up preceptories everywhere. Because of their strong links with the Holy Land, they were guardians of a huge number of sacred relics. During the Second World War, a panel painting was discovered, well hidden in the roof of a cottage in Templecombe, the most important preceptory in the South West. The panel bears an uncanny resemblance to the head on the Shroud of Turin, carbon dated to 1280. The Templars had been tried for worshipping an idol in the form of a head, so could the panel have been the lid of a box containing the shroud? It is almost too exciting to think about.
The Dioceses of Malaga (Spain) is hosting an exhibition on the Shroud in which the Bishop and the Catholic Church, perhaps as never before so clearly, supports the authenticity of the cloth. At the entry of the exhibition there is a sentence by John Paul II written in huge letters: “The truth is to be proposed and not imposed”.
I think this exhibition is very interesting because due to the important support given by the Catholic Church at all levels, one can conclude that what you see in the exhibition represents at this moment something like a sort of “official position”. That was at least, my personal impression when I visited it in July.
In the exhibition, the hypothesis of the templars having the Shroud is clearly supported and the image of this post in England is used to that purpose. In this video of the Malaga exhibition, it can be seen from minute 4:30 onwards. Another argument they provide is that Geoffroi de Charny , the first known owner of the Shroud of Turin, might be a relative of Geoffroi de Charney, burned at the stake along with Jacques de Molay in 1314 after the trial against the Templars.
Or it may have been handed down by Burgundian Othon de la Roche, Seigneur of Athens from 1204, transferred to his home church of St Stephens in Besancon, and handed down his line to his descendant Jeanne de Vergy, widow of Geoffroi de Charny as part of her dowry.
Refer: BESANÇON AND OTHER HYPOTHESES FOR THE MISSING YEARS: THE SHROUD FROM 1200 TO 1400, by Daniel Scavone, at Ohio shroud Conference 2008;
This theory has rather more going for it than the highly speculative Templar theory, notwithstanding certain questionable documentary claims made by Barbara Frale, Vatican archivist. Scavone’s criticisms of the Templar theory show that any evidence said to support it is highly speculative.
Unfortunately Barbara Frale lost an excellent opportunity raised with her research on the Chinon parchment by distorting other documents, however that does not invalidate the Templar hypothesis.
The only thing that Wilson’s Templar hypothesis has going for it are: the hypothetical genealogy links between the two Geoffrey de Charnys; and the secrecy of the Templar order. Scavone’s review of Templar confessions obtained under torture throw considerable doubt on the value of those confessions. Most of the examinees were low down in the order and would not have been privy to any high level Templar secret, and the allegation of an idol head being worshipped was merely an uplift from a similar persecution of the Cathars. Wilson had asked Frale to confirm her assertions with tokens of evidence, but this was not forthcoming, and raised serious questions of her credibility in the matter.
I tend to lean towards Scavone’s hypothesis on this matter. As you say Dave, Wilson’s hypothesis tends to rely on a ‘very’ hypothetical genealogy and not much else.
The only way I see the Templars involvement with the Shroud is that they ‘may have’ been given assignment in the safe delivery of the Shroud (amongst many other relics) back to France. Which is quite plausible considering their standing at the time and the confidence in their abilities in such matters. They were the Fedex or UPS of their time! So it stands quite plausible that they may have had the Shroud in their possession for a short period.
Interesting, daveb. I’ll have to read that paper from the Ohio Conference. Thanks.
One deposition mentioned that Baphomet had two heads and four legs, so was that really the “demon” or the Turin Shroud? It is likely that the secrecy was maintained because such an important relic was stolen during the Fourth Crusade, in which the Knights Templar took no part, although they had spies in the area. If de Molay was worshipping Baphomet he wouldn’t go to discuss plans for a new crusade with the Pope (in Avignon), and he also wanted to raise morale among the knights after the fall of Acre. But Philip le Bel (who had been cruel to Boniface VIII), and whose treasury was empty, laid a nice trap for de Molay.
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