On the way to dinner, with Cuban entrepreneurs no less, we got into a discussion of the hex of Friday the 13th, and no one knew the origin. It’s actually an 800-year-old entry in the “Hold my Beer” Series: the name is Jacques De Moulay, last of the Knights Templar.
[French King] Philip wanted the Templars arrested and their possessions confiscated to incorporate their wealth into the Royal Treasury and to be free of the enormous debt he owed the Templar Order. Molay was in Paris on 12 October, where he was a pallbearer at the funeral of Catherine of Courtenay, wife of Count Charles of Valois, and sister-in-law of King Philip. In a dawn raid on Friday, 13 October 1307, Molay and sixty of his Templar brother knights were arrested. Philip then had the Templars charged with heresy and many other trumped-up charges, most of which were identical to the charges which had previously been leveled by Philip’s agents against Pope Boniface VIII. (old school cut and paste)
The affair was supposed to be concluded when, to the dismay of the prelates and wonderment of the assembled crowd, Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney arose. They had been guilty, they said, not of the crimes imputed to them, but of basely betraying their Order to save their own lives. It was pure and holy; the charges were fictitious and the confessions false. There de Molay, de Charney, de Gonneville, and de Peraud were slowly burned to death, refusing all offers of pardon for retraction, and bearing their torment with a composure which won for them the reputation of martyrs among the people, who reverently collected their ashes as relics.” [All wiki]
Basically, De Molay turned on the Pope and the King, as he refused to betray his men and the order. This decision was taken while tied to a pile of sticks and men with torches on standby. His final words were prophetic: Pope Clement, Chevalier Guillaume de Nogaret, King Philip… you’ll join me before the year is out! And yes indeed, they were all dead by then. But Templar legend lives on for it, as Masons to this day honor him with their own special order. It teaches young men the values of honor, courage, friendship, citizenship, and patriotism.
Friday the 13th, 2017 came and went. The curses of my past were there to say hello, but I chose to smile and turn away. Onward.
PS: In September 2001, Barbara Frale found a copy of the Chinon Parchment in the Vatican Secret Archives, a document which explicitly confirms that in 1308 Pope Clement V absolved Jacques de Molay and other leaders of the Order including Geoffroi de Charney and Hugues de Pairaud. She published her findings in the Journal of Medieval History in 2004. Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, well-known to historians, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church”. [Wiki]