chapter  5
The Imago Templi in Confrontation with Secular Norms
Pages 128

I. The I m a g o T e m p l i at “the meeting-place of the two seas” A great Jewish writer of our time, Elie Wiesel, has chosen as the epigraph to one of the most poignant of his books, Le serment de Kolvillag,1 the following quotation from the Talmud: “If peoples and nations had known the evil they were inflicting on themselves by destroying the Temple of Jerusalem, they would have wept more than the children of Israel.” I was still pondering the far-reaching implications of these lines when, in a recent work,2 I came across another epigraph, taken this time from the historian Ignaz von Dollinger: “If I were asked to name the dies nefastus in the history of the world, the day that would come to my mind would be none other than October 13, 1307” (the day when Philip the Fair ordered the mass arrest of the French Templars). A few pages further on, the same work makes mention of “a legend whose setting is the amphitheatre of Gavarnie in the Pyrenees, where six knights of the Temple lie at rest in a chapel. Every year, on March 18-the birthday of the last Grand Master of the Order-a knight of the Temple is seen to appear, whose shroud is replaced by the famous white cloak with the four-triangled red cross. He is in battle apparel and holds his lance in rest. He walks slowly towards the centre of the chapel and utters a piercing call, which re-echoes around the amphitheatre of mountains: ‘Who will defend the holy Temple? Who will deliver the tomb of Christ?’ At his call, the six entombed Templars come alive and stand up, to answer three times: ‘No one! No one! No one! The Temple is destroyed.’”3