S (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters

'Mary Magdalene', Andrea Solario and Bernardino Luini (ca. 1524 AD), at The Walters Art Museum

aint Mary Magdalene, the New Testament Disciple and supporter of Jesus, is a Saint of the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches, honoured as a Heroine of the Faith by Protestant Churches. In addition to being a canonized Saint, in Southern France and throughout much of Europe Mary Magdalene was venerated as a Gnostic Apostle by the tradition known as the “Cult of Mary Magdalene”, which arose in Provence France during the 11th century.

This was based upon the widespread belief among Catholic scholars that Mary and her companions fled persecution in Jerusalem, crossed the Mediterranean in a boat, and landed near Arles in the South of France (since named “Saintes Maries de la Mer”). She then retired to the Holy Cave (“Sainte-Baume”) on a hill in the Marseille region, and converted all of Provence to Christianity. This tradition holds that throughout 30 years, as a Gnostic Apostle of Jesus, she taught her own Disciples in ancient Christianity from the Holy Cave, and was in frequent communication with Angels. [1] [2] [3] [4] These legends of Mary Magdalene were widely accepted throughout the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages [5] and into the present day.

Catholic doctrine holds that at the time of her death, Mary Magdalene was carried by Angels to Aix en Provence and into the Oratory of Saint Maximinus at Villa Lata, where she received last rites. In 771 AD her relics were moved by Gerard the Duke of Burgundy to the newly founded Abbey de la Madaleine at Vézelay. Her relics were first venerated at Vézelay in Burgundy beginning in ca. 1050 AD. [6] Later in 1279 AD, an excavation for King Charles II of Naples discovered an intact shrine of Mary Magdalene at Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume in Provence. That site featured an inscription explaining why her relics had been hidden there, indicating that it was either the hidden true burial site, or an alternate site of partial relics. [7] [8]

Southern France, especially the Mary Magdalene site of Aix en Provence, was always a major stronghold of the Knights Templar, since the inception of the Order in 1118 AD:

A public square in Aix en Provence preserves a 19th century statute of Rene d’Anjou (1409-1480 AD), Duke of the Templar dynastic House of Anjou, and titular King of Jerusalem descendant from the founding Templar King Fulk d’Anjou. Rene was the son of Princess Yolande of Aragon (1384-1442 AD), who was the primary proponent and patron of Saint Joan of Arc, who was a hereditary Templar Countess of Anjou [9]. Yolande was the daughter of King John I of Aragon Spain, where many of the Knights Templar had survived the French persecution from 1307 AD. As a result, many later Templar descendants thrived as an underground network in Southern France, under the dynastic support of the Templar House of Anjou.

Therefore, the 11th century “Cult of Mary Magdalene” had a special connection – and a powerful appeal – to the 12th century Knights Templar, and was always a major component of authentic Templar heritage even into the modern era. While not all Templars necessarily considered Mary Magdalene to be a Gnostic Apostle, many historically did. As Catholics, in any case, the Knights Templar strongly favoured her as their special Saint.

Throughout the Middle Ages, at every possible opportunity the Templars used seemingly normal references to “Mary”, appearing to mean “Mother Mary”, to instead privately emphasize the central importance of Mary Magdalene in their hearts and in their prayers, as a pillar of Templar culture:

The Temple Rule of 1129 AD features a key reference emphasizing “Our Lady of God” in equal balance with Jesus, using the unique Old French word “Damedieu”, which specifically represents the feminine aspect of God (Rule 2). A related reference in the original Latin identifies “Our Lady” as the “Saint” Mary (and not the “Virgin” or “Mother”), highlighting Saint Mary Magdalene as a Gnostic Apostle of Jesus (Rule 16). The Temple Rule declares that the Templar Priests of the Order serve by “the authority of Our Lady of God” (Rule 64), thereby dedicating the Order to Mary Magdalene. [10]

Accordingly, preserving the tradition of Mary Magdalene remains one of the fundamental historical missions which is carried by the modern Templar Order.



T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters

'Penitent Mary Magdalene' (ca. 1635 AD) by Francesco Gessi at Peyton Wright Gallery

he Biblical Mary Magdalene was a woman of independent means, who helped support the first Apostles of Jesus. The New Testament recounts that “Mary Magdalene… and many others… provided for them out of their resources.” (Luke 8:2-3.) This is supported by the reference that “Mary Magdalene… followed him [Jesus], and ministered unto him” (Mark 15:40-41). [11] Based upon these scriptures, the iconic Templar symbol of her status as a sponsoring patron Saint of the Apostles is her trademark money pouch.

The statue of Saint Joan of Arc inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, built by surviving 15th century Templars, features a key symbol linking her to Saint Mary Magdalene. In this statue, Joan has a distinctive pouch hanging from her belt, mirroring the iconographic “money pouch” traditionally depicted on the belt of Mary Magdalene [12].

Confirming this symbolism is another statue outside that same Cathedral, featuring Mary Magdalene with an Apostolic halo wearing her iconic “money pouch”. [13] The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg also features a 19th century painting “The Life of Joan of Arc”, which depicts Saint Joan wearing the “money pouch” on a red robe which symbolizes that of Mary Magdalene. [14]

In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene was the first to be told by an Angel that Jesus had risen, and was specially appointed by the Angel to be the first to tell the other Apostles: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [came] to see the sepulchre” of Jesus’ tomb. “The angel of the Lord descended from heaven… and said unto the women… go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead… lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly… to bring his disciples word.” (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8) [15] Jesus himself appeared to Mary first, before any other Apostles: “Now when Jesus was risen… he appeared first to Mary Magdalene”. (Mark 16:9) Then “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord”. (John 20:14-18) [16]

The prominence of leadership of Mary Magdalene in the 1st century Church was confirmed by the authoritative Vatican theologian Saint Augustine (ca. 400 AD), recognizing her as the “Apostle to the Apostles” [17]. The name “Magdalene” did not mean merely “from Magdala”, but actually meant “The Tower”, as Mary’s nickname and title of prominence and importance among the Apostles. [18]

For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is widely considered to hold special status as the primary Disciple of Jesus, who the Essenes, Cathars and later Templars regarded as a “Gnostic Apostle”, as well as a Patron Saint [19].

'Maria Magdalena', altar piece by Carlo Crivelli (ca.1485 AD) in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

It was only much later in the 7th century that Pope Gregory (590-604 AD) mistakenly associated Mary Magdalene with a “sinner” who washed Jesus’ feet (Matthew 26:6-13,Mark 14:3-8), who was also named “Mary”. However, the Orthodox Church never made that misidentification, and maintains that Magdalene is separate, and was never any type of “sinner”, but only venerated as a Saint. [20]

The New Testament contains two isolated references to “Mary Magdalene, out of whom he [Jesus] had cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2) [21] This passing mention, in two accounts of the same event, does not appear in the other two related Gospels.

That cryptic reference, which appears out of context even in the original text, has been assumed to imply that “seven demons were cast out” of her, interpreted as a possible exorcism. However, the results of archaeology provide compelling evidence that this is actually a metaphorical short description of the sacred consecration ceremony for a High Priest(ess), in the tradition of the Nazarene Essenes:

The “Wisdom Texts” of the Essene scrolls describe in great detail “the search for Wisdom as a female figure”, establishing doctrines of the feminine aspects of God [22]. As a result, in the Essene Priesthood women were given initiatory training [23], and the 1st century historian Flavius Josephus documented that women were given formal initiation as Priestesses, equal to the men [24].

University professors confirm that Jesus was not “of Nazareth”, but was actually called “the Nazarene”, revealing that he was a High Priest of the Nazarene Essenes, the original Egyptian Essenes. (The town “Nazereth” did not have that name at the time of Jesus, such that he was not named after the place, but rather the town was later named after Jesus the Nazarene Essene.) [25]

The ancient Priesthood of the Essenes, which Jesus the Nazarene Essene had studied in Egypt, and of which he was a High Priest, featured practices of spiritual purification using energy centers located at seven points along the spinal column [26]. These energy points are popularly known in other traditions as the “seven chakras”.

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