Along the banks of the Vienne River in the diocese of Tours, the Chinon Castle held a special group of prisoners. Heretics. Leaders of an immoral group of scoundrels and embezzlers. Enemies of all of Christendom.
Or so at least was the claim of Philip, the “fair” King of France. The Pope, however, was not so convinced. He knew that Philip’s concern for Christendom was heavily outweighed by the crushing debts that he owed, specifically to these men.
Three Papal-Legates made the long journey from Rome to find out the truth. On this morning of August 20th, 1308, they entered a small dimly-lit cell. Awaiting them there, in chains, was an old man with a long gray beard and blackened eyes. The candlelight reflected off his balding head.
“Rise, Grand Master,” said Cardinal Landolf, waving his hand. “By now you’re aware that the Holy Father does not wish to condemn, but to forgive. Not to dissolve, but to reform. Thus far, we’ve been satisfied with the contriteness of your brothers. We hope that you show no fear in offering to us only truthful and sincere replies to our questions.”
“Fear, your eminence?” Jacques de Molay replied with strength in his voice that belied his pitiful appearance. “I am a Templar, secure on every side, for my soul is protected by the armor of faith just as my body was protected by the armor of steel. I fear neither demons nor men.”
When the Cardinals returned to Rome, Pope Clement V granted absolution to the Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon.
Unfortunately for Jacques de Molay and his brethren, the Chinon Parchment, only recently discovered in the Secret Vatican Archives, was not made public. Hundreds of Templars were tortured and burned at the stake.