The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ) is a modern, worldwide ecumenical order of Christian knighthood whose traditions date back to the First Crusade and the 12th Century.
The original Knights of the Temple were a military order with a fearsome reputation for their fighting skill and bravery on the battlefield. Following the First Crusade, the new Kingdom of Jerusalem needed a strong military presence to protect the Holy Land from the armies of Islam. In 1118, a small band of French Knights organized themselves into a religious community and offered their services to King Baldwin II, initially to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. They were of modest means, however, so the King offered a portion of King Solomon’s Temple site toserve as their quarters. Thus they became known as the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, later as the Knights of the Temple, and sometimes, simply the Knights Templar.
The Templars quickly became a favored charity of Europe’s noble families. Over the next two centuries, the Knights’ military capabilities grew and evolved into a commercial and financial empire, with operations extending from the British Isles to the Middle East.
The end of the order came in 1314 at the hand of the French King Philip IV. The king was heavily in debt to the order and coveted its wealth. Ultimately, he contrived charges of heresy against the French leaders and had them executed. The medieval order never recovered, and lay dormant for 490 years.
The Priory of Philadelphia was originally created by the Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States of America, which in turn was authorized by the Autonomous Grand Priory of Switzerland. We are a modern Christian Order of Knighthood dedicated to:
- Seeking God in our lives and promoting love and respect for our community.
- Increasing understanding between religions, helping pilgrims visit holy places, and maintaining a Christian presence in the Holy Land.
- Supporting the poor, sick, and unjustly accused; standing against oppression, and protecting freedom of speech.
- Encouraging the noble ideas of Chivalry; maintaining the monuments, archives, and history of the Knights Templar.