Our History

The Sovereign Military Order Temple of Jerusalem - a heritage built on God Chivalry Family Friendship Faith Hope Loyalty Charity Community

Templar History

The order called Knights of the Temple, Knights Templar, or Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon, later to be known as Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, traces its tradition and history to the year 1118. Founded by Hugues de Payens, Geoffroy de Saint-Omer, André de Montbard, Gondemare, Godefroy, Roral, Geoffroy de Bissol, Payen de Montdidier and Archambaud de Saint-Agnan, all of whom were chevaliers of France who had served under Godefroy de Bouillon, the Order was created in the early days of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, when the crusaders controlled only a few strongholds. Pilgrims depended upon the Knights to provide a means for their safe passage through the Holy Land. The Knights consecrated themselves to the protection of Christian pilgrims and the defense of the Holy Land against barbarian aggressors, accepting monastic vows under the Patriarch Garimond of France.

For almost two centuries, the good deeds done by these Knights and their successors in protecting the Holy sites in Jerusalem, the Holy Land itself, and the routes to the Holy Land became legendary. The Order grew in strength and prospered greatly during the crusades, until those jealous of its financial power violently overthrew it and confiscated its properties, ultimately executing its Grand Master Jacques de Molay and many of its other leaders in the year 1314.

The original Order of the Temple ended with the death of its leaders, but the Templar spirit survived in a misty and elaborate world of legend and myth. The sacrifices of the original knights in the name of Christianity; their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and their legendary fighting prowess offered a vision of purity, honor, and bravery, that many individuals and organizations have sought over the seven centuries since then to ally themselves with that image.

Templar Legacy

The Crusades – (1095—1291 A.D. were initiated by Pope Urban II. He gathered Christians from all over the world to battle Muslims for the purpose of recovering Jerusalem. During this period, The Knights Templar was formed in 1118 A.D. by Hugues de Payens with a primary goal of protecting the many pilgrims who made the journey to Jerusalem.

Growth and Power – The Knights became a formidable force throughout the Holy Land and Europe and were feared by all who challenged them. They amassed great wealth by virtue of noble grants and gifts received from nobility throughout the land. To manage these gifts and great wealth, the Knights were credited for the creation of what we now refer to as our modern banking system.

In 1128 A.D., the Knights were sanctioned by the Catholic Church. Pope Honorius II granted a papal sanction to them by declaring them to be an Army of God. Later, In 1139 A.D., Pope Innocent II granted the power of exemption to the Templars. They continued to fight through the remaining crusades throughout the Holy Land and were considered exempt from all local laws. Their only required obedience was to the Pope.

False Accusations & Downfall – An unscrupulous King Philip IV of France owed a great financial debt to the Knights and in order to avoid repaying this debt, he falsely accused them of heresy and blasphemy and unduly influenced Pope Clement V to dissolve the Templars in 1311 A.D.

On Friday, October 13, 1307, the Templars came under siege. They were ordered arrested. Accusations from King Philip IV were responsible for the deaths of many Templars by torture and burning at the stake.  It was this day that many hold as the origin of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day.

Many Templars confessed to the heresy in order to avoid death while others escaped to distant lands. Notable among those tortured was Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay. In 1314, de Molay denied his former confession of heresy and blasphemy due to torture. He stated that they were false and was immediately burned at the stake. This was the final event causing the Templars to go underground for nearly 500 years.

Templars Vanish – The Templars escaped to such lands as Scotland and Portugal and from there, some are believed to have sailed to America and Nova Scotia. Thus the Templars survived as an underground order after 1314, both on the continent of Europe and in Scotland. 

Inspired by Legacy, Driven by Service

The Modern Knights Templar  SMOTJ & OSMTH  – We are a Ecumenical Christian and Chivalric charitable Order. We do not claim a direct lineage to the original Knights of the Temple, but we do seek to emulate their positive attributes in our daily lives today. We have adopted two of the original Templar missions of Protecting Christians at Risk particularly in the Holy Land and the Middle East and in Keeping the Road to Jerusalem open to all people as our own.

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc. is an autonomous and independent organization, incorporated in the United States, which seeks to emulate the chivalric and charity traditions of the original Templars; its members apply themselves energetically and selflessly to Christian charitable endeavors.

We are a modern Christian Order of Knighthood dedicated to:

  • Seeking God in our lives and promoting love and respect for our community.
  • Increasing understanding between religions, helping pilgrims visit holy places, and maintaining a Christian presence in the Holy Land.
  • Supporting the poor, sick, and unjustly accused; standing against oppression, and protecting freedom of speech.
  • Encouraging the noble ideals of Chivalry; maintaining the monuments, archives, and history of the Knights Templar.

Our guiding lights are the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, through which members aspire to serve faithfully as Knights of God’s Temple. The motto of the Order, “Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam” is the Latin version of Psalm 115, verse 1 — “Not unto us, Oh Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name be given glory.”

The Order, in an age of democratic materialism and secular humanism, seeks, by reconstituting an ancient chivalric order, to adopt an organization of proven effectiveness in capturing the allegiance and spirit of dedicated leaders, and to show that spiritual idealism is most certainly relevant and not inconsistent with a sensibility for tradition, nor inconsistent with patriotism nor civic duty — thus the Order’s purposes include assisting and facilitating the growth of the virtues of Christian gentlemen and ladies, by endeavor with God’s Grace. The members of this Order believe they have an obligation to participate in the coalescing and preservation of a constructive force similar to that which created knighthood and chivalry during the Middle Ages.

The Order has both a Chaplain’s Corps for ordained ministers and a Chirurgeon’s Corps for medical professionals. It also has an associated honorary Order of Merit that recognizes accomplished individuals of all faiths for their extraordinary work for God and humanity.

  • To become a Knight Templar, one must be a Christian by faith.
  • The Order is ecumenical; it does not restrict membership to a single Christian Church
  • The Order recognizes the Constitution and statutes of the United States and of its several States as sovereign and temporally supreme public law.
  • The Order does not allow its members to act contrary to their obligations to their country.
  • The Order is not a political organization and does not engage in politics.
  • The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, Inc. (also referred to as SMOTJ) is not associated in any way with Freemasonry.

There is clearly a growing desire among caring men and women to spread goodness in the world. The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem is increasingly viewed as a means of doing so; its volunteer base is growing rapidly in terms of both numbers and talent. In order for a growing volunteer organization like SMOTJ to be effective on a large scale, it utilizes the varied talents of all and magnifies the results of their efforts through effective organization – all the while keeping a singular crusading focus.