Sunday, March 6, 2016

12th century Templar ecclesiastical privileges, powers and immunities by papal bull "Omne Datum Optimum"

Pope Alexander III, Barbarossa and his wife
source
In 1172 AD Pope Alexander III famous bull, omne datum optimum, confirming the previous privileges of the Templars, and conferring upon them additional powers and immunities, was published in England.

After the preamble, the pope earnestly exhorts the Templars to pursue with unceasing diligence their high vocation; to defend the eastern church with their whole hearts and souls, and to strike down the enemies of the cross of Christ. “By the authority of God, and the blessed Peter prince of apostles,” says the holy pontiff, “we have ordained and do determine, that the Temple in which ye are gathered together to the praise and glory of God, for the defence of the faithful, and the deliverance of the church, shall remain for evermore under the safeguard and protection of the holy apostolic see, together with all the goods and possessions which ye now lawfully enjoy, and all that ye may hereafter rightfully obtain, through the liberality of christian kings and princes, and the alms and oblations of the faithful.
“We moreover by these presents decree, that the regular discipline, which, by divine favour, hath been instituted in your house, shall be inviolably observed, and that the brethren who have there dedicated themselves to the service of the omnipotent God, shall live together in chastity and without property; and making good their profession both in word and deed, they shall remain subject and obedient in all things to the Master, or to him whom the Master shall have set in authority over them.

“Moreover, as the chief house at Jerusalem hath been the source and fountain of your sacred institution and order, the Master thereof shall always be considered the head and chief of all the houses and places appertaining thereunto. And we further decree, that at the decease of Odo, our beloved son in the Lord, and of each one of his successors, no man shall be set in authority over the brethren of the same house, except he be of the religious and military order; and has regularly professed your habit and fellowship; and has been chosen by all the brethren unanimously, or, at all events, by the greater part of them.

“And from henceforth it shall not be permitted to any ecclesiastical or secular person to infringe or diminish the customs and observances of your religion and profession, as instituted by the Master and brethren in common; and those rules which have been put into writing and observed by you for some time past, shall not be changed or altered except by the authority of the Master, with the consent of the majority of the chapter.

“... No ecclesiastic or secular person shall dare to exact from the Master and Brethren of the Temple, oaths, guarantees, or any such securities as are ordinarily required from the laity. 
“Since your sacred institution and religious chivalry have been established by divine Providence, it is not fit that you should enter into any other order with the view of leading a more religious life, for God, who is immutable and eternal, approveth not the inconstant heart; but wisheth rather the good purpose, when once begun, to be persevered in to the end of life.
The above bull further provides, in various ways, for the temporal and spiritual advantage of the Templars, and expressly extends the favours and indulgences, and the apostolical blessings, to all the serving brethren, as well as to the knights. It also confers upon the fraternity the important privilege of causing the churches of towns and villages lying under sentence of interdict to be opened once a year, and divine service to be celebrated within them.

A bull exactly similar to the above appears to have been issued by Pope Alexander, on the seventh id. Jan. 1162, addressed to the Master Bertrand de Blanquefort. Both the above instruments are to a great extent merely confirmatory of the privileges previously conceded to the Templars.

source "The History of the Knights Templars, Temple Church and The Temple", by Charles G. Addison Esq (London 1842)



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