Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Temple Church, London

The Temple Church in London is a historic and beautiful church, located between the River Thames in the South and Fleet Street in the North. Its location shows how prestigious the Order of the Nights Templar had become.

 This Temple was a centre of economic and political activity. The Church was built by the Knights Templar, the order of crusading monks which was founded in order to protect pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem in the 12th century. 

They were one of the two most powerful military-religious order of medieval Europe. Only the Kinghts Hospitaller rivalled them. The Templars's story commenced with the First Crusade. They received their name after the king of Jerusalem gave them headquarters on the Temple Mount, which was built 1000 years ago by Herod the Great. 

The Church consists of two parts, the Round and the Chancel. The Round Church was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was in London at the time. It was designed to recall the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was built in the 4th century by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine.

The London Temple was the Templars' headquarters in Great Britain. In the beginning the Templars were liked and respected. St. Bernard of Clairvaux became their patron and they gained many privileges from popes and much support from kings.  

After the Order was abolished in 1307 by the Pope, King Edward II took control of the London Temple and eventually handed it over to the Order of St. John, i.e. the Knights Hospitaller, who had worked with the Templars. (Its important to state that the Knights Hospitaller redefined themselves in the 19th century by becoming providers of emergency medical care. The Order of St. John continues to this day to offer first aid and nursing, in peace and war, not only in Britain but all around the world). 

During King Henry VIII's  reign the Temple was confiscated and again belonged to the Crown. A priest was provided who received the title "Master of the Temple". 

In 1941 the church was badly damaged by incendiary bombs. The roof of the round church burned first and the wind soon spread the fire to the nave and the choir. The organ was also destroyed. Due to these catastrophic events the restoration process took a long time. However now the church is still a historical and religious site one needs to visit when in London. 

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