Pontiff Apology Sought For Knights Templar Persecution
By James Donahue
In the midst of all the rhetoric concerning Dan Brown's fictional book The Da Vinci Code (that
suggested Jesus fled to France with Mary Magdeline) there was an incident in Hertford, England, in 2004 that escaped
much public attention.
As the story is told, a resident of Hertford, Tim Acheson, who claimed to be a direct descendent of
a long line within the Knights Templar, wrote a letter in which he formally asked the Vatican in Rome for an apology for the
persecution received by the Templars nearly 700 years ago.
Acheson, who identifies himself as secretary of the Council of Chaplains on behalf of the Grand Master
of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ and the Temple of Solomon Grand Preceptory, asked in his letter for an apology
"for the torture and murder of our leadership" that he said was instigated by Pope Clement V in France in 1307.
"We shall witness the 700th anniversary of the persecution of our order on 13th October, 2007. It
would be just and fitting for the Vatican to acknowledge our grievance in advance of this day of mourning."
In Rome, a Vatican spokesman was quoted as saying that the request would be given serious consideration.
As of this date, however, no apology has been issued.
The Knights Templar was founded by Hugh de Payens, a French knight from the Champagne area of Burgundy
in 1118 and given the task of going to Jerusalem and defending the Christian kingdom. The Templars captured Jerusalem during
the Crusades and were known, at least in mythology, as "keepers of the Holy Grail."
The Holy Grail is said to have been the cup used at the Last Supper, or else the receptacle used to
catch the blood of Jesus as he hung on the cross.
Interest in both the Holy Grail and the Templars grew because of the popularity of Brown's book, and
also a rekindled interest in an earlier book on this same subject, Holy Blood Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard
Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Acheson's letter and the Templar link to the town of Hertford came to light that year after the town's
newspaper, the Hertford Mercury, uncovered a story by residents of the community that a maze of secret tunnels existed under
Immediately after the story was published some interesting things occurred.
--The newspaper received an unsigned threat letter, suggesting that anyone entering and exploring
the tunnels under Hertford might meet a terrible fate.
--The Subterrenea Britannica, a group of archaeologists, geologists and historians at the University
of London, expressed interest in exploring the tunnels if an entrance could be found. From what we can tell, the entrance,
if it exists, remains well hidden to this day.
--Acheson made his appearance, granting interviews to the local media and sending his letter to the
Acheson, who claims ancestry to the renowned Scottish Templars, said the organization achieved great
wealth because the Templars were granted unprecedented freedom during the era of the Crusades. They levied taxes and grew
rich after establishing some of Europe's first banks.
The church lowered the boom on Friday, October 13, 1307, the original unlucky Friday the 13th. On
that date, hundreds of Templars were arrested in France. King Philip of France said they were accused of homosexuality, devil
worship and crimes "too horrible to contemplate, too terrible to hear of."
They were tortured into admitting heresy, including their belief that Jesus had children with Mary
Magdalene. Their grand master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake and the Templars were officially disbanded by the
After that, Acheson said, the Templars went underground. He said those that escaped moved to England
and Scotland and continued operating as a secret society. There is a belief that Hertford became a headquarters for the Templars
after a number of them were imprisoned in Hertford Castle.
Thus the question reporters asked Acheson . . . where is the Holy Grail? Is it hidden in the catacombs
under Hertford? And just what is the Holy Grail?
Acheson smiled and said he did not know.