which is in Jesus Christ, and in every peril repeat, "Whether we live or whether we die,
we are the Lord's." What a glory to return in victory from such a battle! How blessed to
die there as a martyr! Rejoice, brave athlete, if you live and conquer in the Lord; but
glory and exult even more if you die and join your Lord. Life indeed is a fruitful thing and
victory is glorious, but a holy death is more important than either. If they are blessed
who die in the Lord, how much more are they who die for the Lord!
To be sure, precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his holy ones, whether they
die in battle or in bed, but death in battle is more precious as it is the more glorious. How
secure is life when the conscience is unsullied! How secure, I say, is life when death is
anticipated without fear; or rather when it is desired with feeling and embraced with
reverence! How holy and secure this knighthood and how entirely free of the double risk
run by those men who fight not for Christ! Whenever you go forth, O worldly warrior, you
must fear lest the bodily death of your foe should mean your own spiritual death, or lest
perhaps your body and soul together should be slain by him.
Indeed, danger or victory for a Christian depends on the dispositions of his heart and not
on the fortunes of war. If he fights for a good reason, the issue of his fight can never be
evil; and likewise the results can never be considered good if the reason were evil and
the intentions perverse. If you happen to be killed while you are seeking only to kill
another, you die a murderer. If you succeed, and by your will to overcome and to conquer
you perchance kill a man, you live a murderer. Now it will not do to be a murderer, living
or dead, victorious or vanquished. What an unhappy victory--to have conquered a man
while yielding to vice, and to indulge in an empty glory at his fall when wrath and pride
have gotten the better of you!
But what of those who kill neither in the heat of revenge nor in the swelling of pride, but
simply in order to save themselves? Even this sort of victory I would not call good, since
bodily death is really a lesser evil than spiritual death. The soul need not die when the
body does. No, it is the soul which sins that shall die.
On worldly Knighthood (chapter 2)
WHAT, THEN IS THE END OR FRUIT of this worldly knighthood, or rather knavery, as I
should call it? What if not the mortal sin of the victor and the eternal death of the
vanquished? Well then, let me borrow a word from the Apostle and exhort him who
plows, to plow in hope, and him who threshes, to do so in view of some fruit.
What then, O knights, is this monstrous error and what this unbearable urge which bids
you fight with such pomp and labor, and all to no purpose except death and sin? You
cover your horses with silk, and plume your armour with I know not what sort of rags;
you paint your shields and your saddles; you adorn your bits and spurs with gold and
silver and precious stones, and then in all this glory you rush to your ruin with fearful
wrath and fearless folly. Are these the trappings of a warrior or are they not rather the
trinkets of a woman? Do you think the swords of your foes will be turned back by your
gold, spare your jewels or be unable to pierce your silks?
As you yourselves have often certainly experienced, a warrior especially needs these
three things--he must guard his person with strength, shrewdness and care; he must be
free in his movements, and he must be quick to draw his sword. Then why do you blind
yourselves with effeminate locks and trip yourselves up with long and full tunics, burying
your tender, delicate hands in big cumbersome sleeves? Above all, there is that terrible
insecurity of conscience, in spite of all your armour, since you have dared to undertake
such a dangerous business on such slight and frivolous grounds. What else is the cause
of wars and the root of disputes among you, except unreasonable flashes of anger, the
thirst for empty glory, or the hankering after some earthly possessions? It certainly is not
safe to kill or to be killed for such causes as these.
On the New Knighthood (chapter 3)
BUT THE KNIGHTS OF CHRIST may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither
sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die
for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for
Christ, and in the second one gains Christ himself. The Lord freely accepts the death of
the foe who has offended him, and yet more freely gives himself for the consolation of
his fallen knight.
The knight of Christ, I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently, for
he serves Christ when he strikes, and serves himself when he falls. Neither does he bear
the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the punishment of evildoers and for the
praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer, he is not a mankiller, but, if I may so put it, a
killer of evil. He is evidently the avenger of Christ towards evildoers and he is rightly
considered a defender of Christians. Should he be killed himself, we know that he has not
perished, but has come safely into port. When he inflicts death it is to Christ's profit, and
when he suffers death, it is for his own gain. The Christian glories in the death of the
Muhammedan (pagan), because Christ is glorified; while the death of the Christian gives
occasion for the King to show his liberality in the rewarding of his knight. In the one case
the just shall rejoice when he sees justice done, and in the other man shall say, truly
there is a reward for the just; truly it is God who judges the earth.
I do not mean to say that the Muhammedans (pagans) are to be slaughtered when there
is any other way to prevent them from harassing and persecuting the faithful, but only
that it now seems better to destroy them than that the rod of sinners be lifted over the
lot of the just, and the righteous perhaps put forth their hands unto iniquity.
What then? If it is never permissible for a Christian to strike with the sword, why did the
Savior's precursor bid the soldiers to be content with their pay, and not rather forbid
them to follow this calling? But if it is permitted to all those so destined by God, as is
indeed the case provided they have not embraced a higher calling, to whom, I ask, may
it be allowed more rightly than to those whose hands and hearts hold for us Sion, the city
of our strength?
Thus when the transgressors of divine law have been expelled, the righteous nation that
keeps the truth may enter in security. Certainly it is proper that the nations who love war
should be scattered, that those who trouble us should be cut off, and that all the workers
of iniquity should be dispersed from the city of the Lord. They busy themselves to carry
away the incalculable riches placed in Jerusalem by the Christian peoples, to profane the
holy things and to possess the sanctuary of God as their heritage. Let both swords of the
faithful fall upon the necks of the foe, in order to destroy every high thing exalting itself
against the knowledge of God, which is the Christian faith, lest the Gentiles should then
say, "Where is their God?"
Once they have been cast out, he shall return to his heritage and to his house, which
aroused his anger in the Gospel, "Behold," he said, "your house is left to you desolate."
He had complained through the Prophet: "I have left my house, I have forsaken my
heritage," and he will fulfill that other prophecy: "The Lord has ransomed his people and
delivered them. They shall come and exult on Mount Sion, and rejoice in the good things
of the Lord."
Rejoice Jerusalem, and recognize now the time in which you are visited! Be glad and give
praise together, wastes of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people. He has
ransomed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all peoples. O virgin
of Israel, you were fallen and there was none to raise you up. Arise now and shake off
the dust, O virgin, captive daughter of Sion. Arise, I say, and stand on high. See the
happiness which comes to you from your God. You will no longer be referred to as the
forsaken one, nor your land any more termed a wilderness; for the Lord takes his delight
in you, and your land shall be peopled. Raise your eyes, look about you and see; all
these are gathered together and come to you. Here is the help sent to you from the Holy
One! Through them is already fulfilled the ancient promise, "I will make you the pride of
the ages, a joy from generation to generation. You will suck the milk of the nations and
be nourished at the breasts of their sovereignty." And again, "As a mother consoles her
children, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem you will be comforted."
Do you not see how frequently these ancient witnesses foreshadowed the new
knighthood? Truly, as we have heard, so we have now seen in the city of the Lord of
armies. Of course we must not let these literal fulfillments blind us to the spiritual
meaning of the texts, for we must live in eternal hope in spite of such temporal
realizations of prophetic utterances. Otherwise the tangible would supplant the
intangible, material poverty would threaten spiritual wealth and present possessions
would forestall future fulfillment. Furthermore, the temporal glory of the earthly city does
not eclipse the glory of its heavenly counterpart, but rather prepares for it, at least so
long as we remember that the one is the figure of the other, and that it is the heavenly
one which is our mother.
On the life style of the Knights of the Temple (chapter 4)
AND NOW AS A MODEL, or at least for the shame of those knights of ours who are
fighting for the devil rather than for God, we will briefly set forth the life and virtues of
these cavaliers of Christ. Let us see how they conduct themselves at home as well as in
battle, how they appear in public, and in what way the knight of God differs from the
knight of the world.
In the first place, discipline is in no way lacking and obedience is never despised. As
Scripture testifies, the undisciplined son shall perish and rebellion is as the sin of
witchcraft, to refuse obedience is like the crime of idolatry. Therefore they come and go
at the bidding of their superior. They wear what he gives them, and do not presume to
wear or to eat anything from another source. Thus they shun every excess in clothing
and food and content themselves with what is necessary. They live as brothers in joyful
and sober company, without wives or children. So that their evangelical perfection will
lack nothing, they dwell united in one family with no personal property whatever, careful
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You may say that the whole
multitude has but one heart and one soul to the point that nobody follows his own will,
but rather seeks to follow the commander.
They never sit in idleness or wander about aimlessly, but on the rare occasions when
they are not on duty, they are always careful to earn their bread by repairing their worn
armour and torn clothing, or simply by setting things to order. For the rest, they are
guided by the common needs and by the orders of their master.
There is no distinction of persons among them, and deference is shown to merit rather
than to noble blood. They rival one another in mutual consideration, and they carry one
another's burdens, thus fulfilling the law of Christ. No inappropriate word, idle deed,
unrestrained laugh, not even the slightest whisper or murmur is left uncorrected once it
has been detected. They foreswear dice and chess, and abhor the chase; they take no
delight in the ridiculous cruelty of falconry, as is the custom. As for jesters, magicians,
bards, troubadours and jousters, they despise and reject them as so many vanities and
unsound deceptions. Their hair is worn short, in conformity with the Apostle's saying,
that it is shameful for a man to cultivate flowing locks. Indeed, they seldom wash and
never set their hair--content to appear tousled and dusty, bearing the marks of the sun
and of their armour.
When the battle is at hand, they arm themselves interiorly with faith and exteriorly with
steel rather than decorate themselves with gold, since their business is to strike fear in
the enemy rather than to incite his cupidity. They seek out horses which are strong and
swift, rather than those which are brilliant and well-plumed, they set their minds on
fighting to win rather than on parading for show. They think not of glory and seek to be
formidable rather than flamboyant. At the same time, they are not quarrelsome, rash, or
unduly hasty, but soberly, prudently and providently drawn up into orderly ranks, as we
read of the fathers. Indeed, the true Israelite is a man of peace, even when he goes forth
Once he finds himself in the thick of battle, this knight sets aside his previous gentleness,
as if to say, "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord; am I not disgusted with your
enemies?" These men at once fall violently upon the foe, regarding them as so many
sheep. No matter how outnumbered they are, they never regard these as fierce
barbarians or as awe-inspiring hordes. Nor do they presume on their own strength, but
trust in the Lord of armies to grant them the victory. They are mindful of the words of
Maccabees, "It is simple enough for a multitude to be vanquished by a handful. It makes
no difference to the God of heaven whether he grants deliverance by the hands of few or
many; for victory in war is not dependent on a big army, and bravery is the gift of
heaven." On numerous occasions they had seen one man pursue a thousand, and two
put ten thousand to flight.
Thus in a wonderous and unique manner they appear gentler than lambs, yet fiercer than
lions. I do not know if it would be more appropriate to refer to them as monks or as
soldiers, unless perhaps it would be better to recognize them as being both. Indeed they
lack neither monastic meekness nor military might. What can we say of this, except that
this has been done by the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes. These are the picked
troops of God, whom he has recruited from the ends of the earth; the valiant men of
Israel chosen to guard well and faithfully that tomb which is the bed of the true Solomon,
each man sword in hand, and superbly trained to war.
The Temple of Jerusalem (chapter 5)
THEIR QUARTERS indeed are in the very temple of Jerusalem, which is not as vast as the
ancient masterpiece of Solomon, but is no less glorious. Truly all the magnificence of the
first temple lay in perishable gold and silver, in polished stones and precious woods;
whereas all the beauty and gracious charming adornment of its present counterpart is
the religious fervor of its occupants and by their well-disciplined behavior. In the former,
one could contemplate all sorts of beautiful colors, while in the latter one is able to
venerate all sorts of virtues and good works. Indeed holiness is the fitting ornament for
God's house. One is able to delight there in splendid merits rather than in shining marble,
and to be captivated by pure hearts rather than by gilded paneling.
Of course the facade of this temple is adorned, but with weapons rather than with jewels,
and in place of the ancient golden crowns, its walls are hung round about with shields. In
place of candlesticks, censers and ewers, this house is well furnished with saddles, bits
and lances. By all these signs our knights clearly show that they are animated by the
same zeal for the house of God which of old passionately inflamed their leader himself
when he armed his most holy hands, not indeed with a sword, but with a whip. Having
fashioned this from some lengths of cord, he entered the temple and ejected the
merchants, scattered the coins of the money changers, and overturned the chairs of the
pigeon venders, considering it most unfitting to defile this house of prayer by such traffic.
Moved therefore by their King's example, his devoted soldiers consider that it is even
more shameful and infinitely more intolerable for a holy place to be polluted by
Muhammedans (pagans) than to be crowded with merchants. Once they have installed
themselves in this holy house with their horses and their weapons, cleansed it and the
other holy places of every un-Christian stain, and cast out the tyrannical horde, they
occupy themselves day and night in both pious exercises and practical work. They are
especially careful to honor the temple of God with zealous and sincere reverence, offering
by their devout service, not the flesh of animals according to the ancient rites, but true
peace offerings of brotherly love, devoted obedience and voluntary poverty.
These events at Jerusalem have shaken the world. The islands hearken, and the people
from afar give ear. They swarm forth from East and West, as a flood stream bringing
glory to the nations and a rushing river gladdening the city of God. What could be more
profitable and pleasant to behold than seeing such a multitude coming to reinforce the
few? What, if not the twofold joy of seeing the conversion of these former impious
rogues, sacrilegious thieves, murderers, perjurers and adulterers? A twofold joy and a
twofold benefit, since their countrymen are as glad to be rid of them as their new
comrades are to receive them. Both sides have profited from this exchange, since the
latter are strengthened and the former are now left in peace. Thus Egypt rejoices in their
conversion and departure while Mount Sion rejoices and the daughters of Juda are glad
to acquire these new protectors. The former glory in being delivered from their hands,
while the latter have every reason to expect deliverance by means of these same hands.
The former gladly see their cruel despoilers depart, while the latter gladly welcome their
faithful defenders; so that the one is agreeably heartened, while the other is profitably
This is the revenge which Christ contrives against his enemies, to triumph powerfully and
gloriously over them by their own means. Indeed, it is both a happy and fitting thing that
those who have so long fought against him should at last fight for him. Thus he recruits
his soldiers among his foes, just as he once turned Saul the persecutor into Paul the
preacher. Therefore I am not surprised that, as our Savior himself has affirmed, the court
of heaven takes more joy in the conversion of one sinner than in the virtues of many just
men who have no need of conversion. Certainly the conversion of so many sinners and
evil doers will now do as much good as their former misdeeds did harm.
Hail then, holy city, sanctified by the Most High for his own tabernacle in order that such
a generation might be saved in and through you! Hail, city of the great King, source of so
many joyous and unheard-of marvels! Hail mistress of nations and queen of provinces,
heritage of patriarchs, mother of apostles and prophets, source of the faith and glory of
the Christian people! If God has permitted you to be so often besieged, it has only been
to furnish brave men an occasion for valor and immortality.
Hail promised land, source of milk and honey for your ancient inhabitants, now become
the source of healing grace and vital sustenance for the whole earth! Yes, I say, you are
that good and excellent soil which received into its fruitful depths the heavenly seed from
the heart of the eternal Father. What a rich harvest of martyrs you have produced from
that heavenly seed! Your fertile soil has not failed to furnish splendid examples of every
Christian virtue for the whole earth--some bearing fruit thirtyfold, some sixty, and some
a hundredfold. Therefore those who have seen you are most happily filled with the great
abundance of your sweetness and are well nourished on your munificent bounty.
Everywhere they go they publish the fame of your great goodness and relate the
splendors of your glory to those who have never seen it, proclaiming the marvels
accomplished in you even to the ends of the earth.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested