Some people consider Friday the 13th bad luck, but it was more than misfortunate happen-chance that stained this day over 700 years ago. Blackness flowing from the throne and the alter, seized and killed a band of brothers who had devoted their lives to the service of their God.
Philip IV, the King of France, was heavily indebted to the Knights of Templar. The men who ran the order mostly lived a life of deprivation, but the organization amassed considerable wealth as it managed funds from all across Christian Europe. The men pledged their allegiance to the Pope, thus no king could loot the funds, as was common everywhere else.
Little did the Knights of Templar know that Philip IV had great influence over Pope Clement V, a man he had sponsored for many years, helping him to become Pope. The Knights believed the Pope was dedicated to do the work of God. They were just men who could not see the weakness inside his heart.
On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of Knights were rounded up all over Europe. Jacque de Molay was their Grand Master. Many of them died during the horrible torture they given in attempts to get them to confess to any of many blasphemous crimes. After two months of torture, some of Philip’s agents reported that de Molay confessed to denying Christ. This was later denied, much to the anger of his tormentors. Then he adopted a defense strategy of silence, mimicking Christ before His accusers.
While Clement did not use his power to rescue his servants, he did secretly absolve the Knights in 1308. It did not stop the tortures or the imprisonments. After years of mistreatment, Jacque de Molay broke his silence and proclaimed his innocence and challenged Clement and Philip before God.
Philip, even though basking in the riches he had stolen from the vanquished Knights, was so enraged that he ordered de Molay to be burned at the stake.
Naked, bleeding, battered, and bruised he was tied to a stake in Paris just outside of Notre Dame and a slow fire was set about him on Friday, 13 March 1314. After more than an hour, Jacque de Molay announced in a bold, strong voice that he would petition the Mighty God to hold a counsel for him, King Philip and Pope Clement before the year was complete. Then he died.
Just over a month later, Pope Clement V died a painful death brought on by an inflamed bowel.
Then a little over eights months later on a Friday in November, King Philip was enjoying his favorite sport of hunting when his horse stumbled, and he fell into a deep culvert. Before his guards could rescue him he was torn asunder by a pack of wild pigs. Some of the men who witnessed his screams reported that the king was begging for mercy and had repeatedly shouted the name of Jacque de Molay.
While the stain of betrayal certainly taints the concept of Friday the 13th, it blemishes the memory of Philip and Clement much more. We would do well to remember that our lives are as whispers of smoke. In the short time that we have on Gods Earth, the less we do to hurt other people and the more we do to make life better for others, the brighter the memory of us will be to those that come after us.
It just makes sense.