Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Processus Contra Templarios Visits Skaneateles

In April 2008, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge announced the acquisition of Processus Contra Templarios, an unprecedented publication containing a collection of facsimile manuscripts relating to the trials of the Knights Templar. Each year since then, the Library has transported the Processus to sites throughout New York State, so that Freemasons and others interested in Masonic history and legend may examine this unique collection. The Library is pleased to bring the Processus to Skaneateles Lodge 522 F&AM, 13 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles on February 3rd 2011.

The event will include a display of the bound volume containing the transcription of the testimony taken from the captive Knights Templar in the year 1308. The display includes facsimile reproductions of the original documents, which reproduce the handwriting of medieval Inquisitors, along with signs of eight hundred years of age, including artificial tears and mold stains. A half-hour presentation from Thomas M. Savini, Director of the Livingston Masonic Library, provides an overview of the Knights Templar, describes their place in history, and discusses their interest to scholars of contemporary Freemasonry. The program includes an opportunity for questions and comments from the audience.

Presented to the world in October 2007, the 700th anniversary of the arrest of the Templars, Processus Contra Templarios is a joint project of the Vatican Secret Archives and Italy’s Scrinium cultural foundation. This unique work includes faithful replicas of the original parchments closely guarded at the Secret Archive, along with exclusive critical commentary on the minutes of the inquiry. The most exciting manuscript in the document collection is the “Chinon Parchment,” which contains Pope Clement V’s absolution of the Templars on charges of heresy, which had been the backbone of King Philip of France’s attempts to eliminate them.

Original documents of the trials of the Templars have never before been offered to scholars. The epic work of Scrinium is presented in a soft leather case that contains a large-format book with scholarly commentary in Italian and English, reproductions of original parchments in Latin, and replicas of the wax seals used by 14th-century inquisitors. One parchment measuring about a foot and a half wide by more than six feet long is so detailed that it includes reproductions of stains and imperfections seen on the originals. The precise reproduction of the parchments will allow scholars to study them, touch them, and admire them as if they were dealing with the real thing.

The Knights Templar have been a subject of both scholarly research and popular fiction for centuries, but never as popular as in recent decades. Legends of their hidden treasures, secret rituals and political power have figured over the years in medieval romances, Victorian novels, modern bestsellers such as The Da Vinci Code, and action films like National Treasure. The Knights have also been portrayed as guardians of the legendary Holy Grail. One theory says that Templars who went underground to escape the persecutions of the inquisitors in the early 14th century evolved as an organization and emerged in Scotland almost two centuries later as early modern Freemasonry. The Livingston Library makes no claim that Freemasonry is descended from the Templars.

The evening will begin at 6:30 PM with a Cocktail Reception followed by the presentation at 7:30 PM. Admission to the event will be $10 per person at the door. All money raised will go the Skaneateles Historical Society.