Did the ark rest in Aswan Egypt?Credit: AnnieBliss

The truth behind Friday the 13th

Why are we so worried about Friday the 13th? Many of us are still superstitious, and we avoid black cats and perhaps even walking on the cracks in the sidewalks. Do you walk under ladders or go around them? The origins of many of the most common superstitions are not well known in today’s modern world. It seems a shame because they are part of our heritage. Friday the 13th is one of the strongest held superstitions and is evident all around the world. Movies have been made about Friday the 13th and a lot of people still regard Friday the 13th as an unlucky day. Some people go to real extremes on Friday the 13th and may even stay home from work.

A lot has been written about Friday the 13th and many of the stories have no basis in fact. There is only one real event which can be attributed to Friday the 13th – the arrest of the majority of the Knights Templar on Friday 13th 1307.

The Knights Templar

During the first and the second crusades, around 1118 A.D., the Knights Templar order was created by the order of the Vatican. The Knights Templar were ordered by the Vatican to protect Christian pilgrims as the journeyed to the Holy Lands of Israel, Jordan and other countries in the Middle or near East. The lands of the Holy Land such as Jerusalem were sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians from all nations. The problem was that many European Christians who ventured to the Holy Lands were set up on by Muslim warriors and could risk being tortured or even killed as infidels

Nine monks, called the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, were sent by the Pope to protect the traveling pilgrims. This group of monks later came to be known as the Knights Templar and they did some incredible things. The Knights Templar took up residence in the ruins of Kings Solomon temple, and took vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This early band of the Templars were soon joined by others and they quickly became known as fierce warriors.

The Knights Templar continued to grow in numbers joined by the sons of many of the noblest families of Europe. Not only were this band of brothers warriors but they were also keen historians and archaeologists. The Templars started to excavate the temple of King Solomon and many people believe they found treasure in the ruins of the temple. Some historians even believe they found the Ark of the Covenant ( Moses’ ark as it was known in ancient times) and the Holy Grail. The Knights Templar became very wealthy and traveled as far as Ethiopia where they built churches. They claimed they had found evidence that Ethiopia should be part of the Holy Land, and went to great length to influence and seize as much power in Ethiopia as possible. In the beginning of the 1300’s the Knights Templar were one of the most powerful forces in Europe and the Middle East.

The Vatican and the European monarchy

The Royal families of Europe and the Vatican were becoming concerned with the activities of the Knights Templar and their increased wealth and power base. The Knights Templar had become a serious threat to the influence of the Vatican church and the European monarchy which was in serious debt. King Philip IV of France was the most indebted royal in Europe and his creditors were pressing for payment. The king’s biggest ally was Pope Clement V who was elected pope 1305. The decision to elect Pope Clement V was greatly influenced by King Philip, and they remained great political allies.

By 1307 King Philip was in serious trouble, and he turned to the Knights Templar hoping they would help him but they refused to help him. King Philip was undeterred by this and turned to his ally Pope Clement V and convinced him to ex-communicate the order. On Friday October 13th 1307 the French king and the pope decreed that every Knights Templar in France should be arrested. Through Pope Clement V’s influence this request for the arrest of the Knights Templar was extended to every European country and the majority of the Knights Templar in Europe at the time was arrested. This allowed King Philip and the Vatican to also seize their assets. The wealth of the Knights Templar was made up out of not only money but also land and treasure.

The Knights were put on trial for heresy and a number of other charges. Many were tortured, cruelly murdered and even burned to death. Any Catholic monarch who refused to obey the pope’s order and hunt down the Templars was threatened with immediate excommunication.

King Robert the Bruce of Scotland was not impressed or concerned with the order from the Vatican. He had already been excommunicated, and word quickly spread that the Knights Templar could find refuge in Scotland. By this time the Templars’ leader, Jacques DeMolay, had been burned at the stake for heresy and the remaining Templars were concerned with their own survival.

The last Knights Templar went into hiding but they did not disband their order. Instead they developed secret signs and passwords which would allow them to recognize each other. They left a large part mainland Europe and spread their wealth into Ireland, Scotland and Portugal. The Knights Templar were excellent sailors and many people believe the Knights Templar may have traveled as far as Nova Scotia (New Scotland) on the Atlantic coast of Canada.

Pope Clement V died a month after the death of Jacques DeMolay. He must have regretted his decision to excommunicate the Knights Templar as during his last days he secretly pardoned the Knights Templar. The pardon has only recently been discovered in the Vatican archives. It is called the Chinon parchment after the name of the castle where Jacques DeMolay was held captive.

What in inspired me to write this story

The Knights Templar were warriors, historians, builders and archaeologists. This was a Vatican order without equal.

Many historians believe that the ark of convenant was removed from Kings Solomon temple and moved to Ethiopia. Some even believe that the Templars found the ark of the covenant, and it was removed by them to Ethiopia. We can't be sure of that but we can prove that the Knights Templar traveled down the Nile, and proof of that can still be seen in various locations.

I never used to pay too much attention to this story but I decided to have a really good look around Philae temple on a recent visit. I have been there several times before but I have never seen any "signs" of the Knights Templar before. To my surprise they are relatively easy to find, and the one that intrigued me the most is the carving on one of the altars.

The locals believe the ark of the covenant actually rested here for a while on its journey south. But what happened to the ark, and why is there such a large Jewish community in Aswan that believe the ark passed through Aswan on its way south to their "brothers" in Ethiopia?