Vatican paper ‘absolves’ Knights Templar of heretic tag after 700 years

London, Oct 13 : The mysteries surrounding the Order of the Knights Templar could soon be exposed after the Vatican announced the publication of key documents which has not been seen for almost 700 years.

Ignored for centuries, documents about the heresy trial of the ancient Christian order discovered in the Vatican's secret archives are being published in a limited edition, with a price tag of 4,113 pounds.

The Vatican office of the Secret Archives will unveil the epic, ‘Processus Contra Templarios - Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars’ containing "a previously unpublished and exclusive edition of the complete acts of the original hearing against the Knights Templar," on Oct 25.

The documents come in a soft leather case that includes a large-format book including scholarly commentary, reproductions of original parchments in Latin, and replicas of the wax seals used by 14th-century inquisitors.

"This is a milestone because it is the first time that these documents are being released by the Vatican, which gives a stamp of authority to the entire project," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Barbara Frale, a medievalist at the Vatican's Secret Archives, as saying.

Frale revealed that Pope Benedict will be given the first set of the work, published by the Vatican Secret Archives in collaboration with Italy's Scrinium cultural foundation, which acted as curator and will have exclusive world distribution rights.

The Knights Templar, a religious order established in Jerusalem in 1118, rose to prominence during the Crusades, and became a formidable military and political force in Europe in the 12th and 13th century.

But when Jerusalem fell to Muslim rule in 1244, rumours circulated that the knights were heretics who worshipped idols in a secret initiation ceremony.

In 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest and torture of all Templars, following which Pope Clement V forcibly suppressed the order.  Ever since, the Templars have been thought of as heretics.

But rumors about the secrets of the military order have been disseminated for centuries. The Knights Templar’s secrecy has given birth to endless legends, including one that they guard the Holy Grail.

The Vatican expects most copies of the work to be bought up by specialised libraries at top universities and by leading medieval scholars.

"The most incredible thing is that 700 years have passed and people are still fascinated by all of this. The precise reproduction of the parchments will allow scholars to study them, touch them, admire them as if they were dealing with the real thing," said Rosi Fontana, who has helped the Vatican coordinate the project.

"But even better, it means the originals will not deteriorate as fast as they would if they were constantly being viewed," she added. (ANI)