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The Legacy of the Knights Templar

Deep into Africa

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Deep into Africa

"In the year 1145, the German bishop Otto of Freising reported in his Chronicon a most astonishing epistle. The Pope, he reported, had received a letter from a Christian ruler of India, whose existence had been totally unknown until then. And that king had affirmed in his letter that the River of Paradise was indeed located in his realm. "Bishop Otto named as the intermediary, through whom the Pope had received the epistle, Bishop Hugh of Gebal, a town on the Mediterranean cost of Syria. The ruler, it was reported, was named John the Elder or, being a priest, Prester John. He was reputedly a lineal descendant of the Magi who had visited Christ the child. He defeated the Muslim kings of Persia, and formed a thriving Christian kingdom in the lands of the Ends of Earth." - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"Prester John is a corruption of Presbyter John - the Apostle John - even in the Gospel, it says that a rumour had arisen that John would never die, but that this was not true. Combine that with the several emperor Johns of Byzantium, at a time with Europe was threatened by Muslim invasion, and it becomes conflated into a rumour of hope of assistance." - Steve. Schaper 

"...No sooner had Bishop Otto reported the existence of Prester John and of the River of Paradise in his realm, then the Pope issued a formal call for the resumption of the Crusades. Two years later, in 1147, Emperor Conrad of Germany, accompanied by other rulers and many nobles, launched the Second Crusade. "As the fortunes of the Crusaders rose and fell, Europe was swept anew by word from Prester John and his promises of aid. According to chroniclers of those days, Prester John sent in 1165 a letter to the Byzantine emperor, to the Holy Roman emperor, and to lesser kings, in which he declared his definite intention to come to the Holy Land with his armies. Again his realm was described in glowing terms, as befits the place where the River of Paradise - indeed, the Gates of Paradise - were situated." Harbay, reigning Zagwe monarch of Ethiopia before his brother Lalibela deposed him, is deduced to have been the mythical Prester John. "Derived from Jano, a reddish-purple toga worn only by royalty, the word [Jan] meant 'king' or 'Majesty'..." - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

Prester John's letter also contained a warning against the Templars, who were believed to have been allied with his brother against him. "There are Frenchmen among you, of your lineage and from our retinue, who hold with the Saracens. You confide in them and trust in them that they should and will help you, but they are false and treacherous...may you be brave and of great courage and, pray, do not forget to put to death those treacherous Templars." - Prester John in the letter written to various Christian kings (1165)

In Parzival, "a member of the Grail Company...spoke, amongst other things, of riding 'deep into Africa...past the Rohas'. ...Rohas was the old name for a town in the remotest highlands of Ethiopia - a town now called Lalibela in honour of the great king who was born there and who made it his capital when he returned to it in triumph in the year of our Lord 1185...Lalibela had spent the previous quarter of a century in Jerusalem rubbing shoulder with the knights of a military-religious order whose headquarters stood on the site of the Temple of Solomon - knights who would have had a special interest in any contender to the throne of a country which claimed to possess the lost Ark that the Temple had originally been built to house." - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"Writing was seen on the Gral to the effect that any Templar whom God should bestow on a distant people...must forbid them to ask his name or lineage, but must help them gain their rights. When such a question is put to him the people there cannot keep him any longer." "If a land should lose its lord, and its people see the hand of God in it and ask for a new lord from the Gral Company, their prayer is granted...God sends the men out in secret." - Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival

Ethiopia's diplomatic relationship with Christian Europe were to continue into the following century.

"It is known that this emperor [Wedem Ara'ad of Ethiopia] in the...year of our salvation 1306 sent thirty envoys [who]...presented themselves reverentially before Pope Clement V at Avignon." - Giovanni da Carignano (a Genoese cartographer active during the years 1291-1329)

"By a considerable margin, the eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were the most architecturally advanced building that Ethiopia had ever known (indeed, in the considered opinion of UNESCO, they deserved to be ranked amongst the wonders of the world.)....Towering edifices, the churches remain places of living worship eight hundred years after they were built. It is important to stress, however that they were not built at all in the conventional sense, but instead were excavated and hewn directly out of the solid red volcanic tuff on which they stand. In consequence, they seem superhuman - not only in scale, but also in workmanship and in conception." "...Considerable efforts have been made to cloak their real natures: some lie almost completely concealed within deep trenches, whole others hide in the open mouths of huge quarried caves. Connecting them all is a complex and bewildering labyrinth of tunnels and narrow passageways with offset crypts, grottoes and galleries - a cool, lichen-enshrouded, subterranean world, shaded and damp, silent but for the faint echoes of distant footfalls and priests and deacons go about their timeless business."

On the arch "of the ceiling of the rock-hewn church of Saint Mary's...can be seen a stylized croix pattÄe contained within a Star of David - a most unusual symbol in a Christian place of worship, but one to which it is known that the Knights Templar were particularly attached. Behind the arch...[is]a cloth-wrapped column said by the priests to have been engraved by King Lalibela himself with the secrets of how the rock-hewn churches were made." Another croix pattÄe is carved on a boulder on the outskirts of Axum, and several more can be found "in the ruins of King Kaleb's palace - a structure that could well have been still standing and inhabited in the thirteenth century." - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal





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