Our word is addressed in particular to those who contemn to follow their will and wish to serve with purity and courage in the Knighthood of the true and supreme Sovereign, preferring to wear the most excellent armour of obedience, fulfilling their duty with assiduous diligence and perseverance so as to finally achieve their goal.
We thus exhort you to hasten to be united for eternity with those whom the Lord has chosen amongst the sinners and has ordained out of his generous mercy to defend the Holy Church.
Above all, whoever you are, Knight of Christ, you who choose such a holy way of life, it is necessary that you apply in your profession a pure attention and a firm perseverance: it is acknowledged by God as so very worthy, holy and sublime that, if observed with perseverance, it shall reward with the grace of being one of the Knights who gave their souls for Christ.
In this profession, the Order of knighthood in fact reflourished and was resplendent, until when, having refused the love for justice, it no longer accomplished its task, neglecting to defend the poor and the Church.
We put down in writing what has been diligently examined by the Most Excellent Chapter of the Militia of the Temple, so that it shall not get lost and shall be safeguarded in its entirety; so that the Poor Knights of Christ, following a righteous course, may reach the excellent Creator they fight for, whose sweetness exceeds the one of honey so much that compared to Him the latter is as bitter as absinthe, and may fight for Him until He returns.
Of the different categories of those who serve Our Lord in the Militia of the Temple
There are three categories amongst those who serve Our Lord and pay due homage to Our Lady in the Militia of the Temple.
The first is the very glorious one of the Knights, who comprises those who, on the day of their investiture, have chosen before God and His Saints to bind themselves to the Militia, to be sanctified in it and to fight without respite for the rights of God and of Christianity.
Amongst them, called Knights of Obedience owing to their conduct in life, the Master chooses the Knights of Justice who are not to exceed twelve in number. They are wise, devout men who assist the Master of the Militia as requested by him. They shall gather in Chapter and, after having prayed the Holy Spirit for a long time, they shall elect the Master of the Militia amongst themselves, or amongst the Knights of Obedience.
The second category comprises women of good will who, kindled by a sincere devotion for the Lord and Our Lady, and wishful to enhance their Christian life, while remaining in their state, dedicate part of their energies and their prayers to the Militia and, collaborating actively with the Knights, serve their Supreme King together.
They are called Ladies: before God, the Master of the Militia and the Chapter, they solemnly undertake their responsibilities the day on which they receive the habit and the Cross.
The third category is composed by men and women who, due to their young age and inexperience, are not considered ready to undertake a definitive responsibility without the possibility of receding: they serve in the ranks of the Militia as Knights and Ladies, and they, too, pronounce the simple Profession or the temporary Donation; this shall be renewed every three years.
When the Master of the Militia and the Chapter, having acknowledged their grown maturity, shall express a favourable opinion, God willing they shall be allowed to bind themselves to the Militia perpetually, through both the Donation and the knightly investiture.
The Master of the Militia
The Master of the Militia, once elected, shall accept his charge without in the least making boast of it, but rather strengthening his humbleness because, if his honour is great, the responsibility he takes upon himself before God and Our Lady is just as great.
He shall endeavour to teach all that is good and holy more through deeds than through words, thus confirming his teachings with his conduct.
He shall not, for no reason whatsoever, reserve a partial or preferential treatment to anyone, and this in order that rumours may be avoided: he shall use the same rule of behaviour for all.
He shall endeavour to show, depending on the circumstance, the severity of a preceptor together with the tenderness of a father. He shall vigorously correct the undisciplined and the restless and shall lovingly exhort those who obey to make further progress.
He shall above all take care that those who are subject to him keep close to their heart and be faithful to the ideals of the Militia, that is serving Our Lord and the Holy Virgin Mary and defending Their Sovereign Rights and those of Christianity the world through, conscious that, if one seeks the Reign of God and its Justice, all the rest shall be given for good measure.
He shall remember that, if he wants to be first in authority, he shall also be first in sanctity, first in the observance of the Rule and the most zealous in combat and in practising good deeds.
Once the Master of the Militia has been elected, faithfulness to the Promises and love for the Militia exact that everyone obey him, trying to overcome personal difficulties for the good of the Militia.
Therefore, all those who belong to the Militia of the Temple shall love him as his children, shall honour and respect him. And shall obey him: but their obedience shall not be recalcitrant and ready for rumours, on the contrary it shall be frank, free and loyal.
Of the consultation of the Chapter
Each time an important issue needs to be discussed, and when the Master considers it opportune, he shall summon all the Knights in Chapter, shall personally state the matter at issue and shall hear the advice and the opinions of everyone, from the youngest to the oldest. He shall then do what he deems most fit. And everyone shall obey him in total humbleness.
The instruments of good deeds
Above all love God Our Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength; and then your neighbour as yourself.
Deny yourself completely to follow Christ; mortify your flesh, do not seek comfort, love fasting.
Relieve the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead, alleviate all sufferings, comfort those who are in distress.
Get estranged from the worldly mentality, do not prefer anything to the love for Christ.
Do not give free play to wrath, do not bear anyone a grudge, do not nurse deceit in your heart, do not give a false greeting of peace, do not abandon charity.
Do not swear to avoid perjury, speak the truth with your heart and your lips, do not render evil for evil, do not wrong anyone; love your enemies, do not return insults and slander, but rather respond with benevolence towards our offenders; endure persecutions for justice.
Do not be haughty, do not be given to drinking nor be ravenous, do not sleep excessively nor be lazy, do not be a grumbler nor a backbiter.
Set your trust in God, attribute to Him, and not to yourself, whatever good you discover within you, but be aware that evil comes from us and accept the ensuing responsibilities
Fear the day of Judgement, quiver at the thought of hell, yearn for eternal life with all your soul.
Keep the possibility of death in mind at all times.
Watch your actions continuously, be convinced that God watches us everywhere.
Immediately break into Christ all evil thoughts that arise in your heart.
Beware of evil and unbecoming conversation, do not love to speak much, do not speak light or silly words, do not laugh immoderately.
Willingly listen to the reading of the word of God, dedicate yourself frequently to prayer; in this confess your past sins to God every day with deep sorrow and endeavour to mend your ways in the future.
Do not satisfy the desires of corrupt nature, loathe your own will, obey the Master.
Do not wish to be called a saint before being one, but truly become such so that there may be more ground to say so.
Fulfill God’s commandments each day.
Love chastity, do not envy anyone, do not be jealous, do not nurse envy, do not love quarrels, shun haughtiness and respect the elderly, love the young, pray for your enemies in the love of Christ; should you quarrel with your brother, make peace before sunset.
And never despair of God’s mercy.
These are the instruments of spiritual art! If we shall make use of them day and night and return them on the day of judgement, we shall obtain from the Lord the reward that He himself promised: “No eye has ever seen, nor ear has ever heard what God has prepared for those who love him”.
Of the Divine Office
The Knights, and those who with them—for the salvation of their souls—militate under the banners of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady in the Militia of the Temple, shall address each day their supplications to God, Lord of all things, in total humbleness and sincere devotion.
The Knights shall recite the Office according to the custom of the Roman Church, possibly all the Daily Hours, but should this not be possible they shall at least propose to always recite Lauds or Vespers.
Recalling what the Lord said: “Where two or three shall meet in my Name, I shall be amongst them“, the Knights shall endeavour to recite the Offices together as much as possible, in precise compliance with the prescribed ceremonial. And this shall be valid in particular for the hour of Vespers.
When a Knight is unable to recite the Office, he shall say a Pater Noster, ten Ave Maria, a Gloria Patri and a Requiem Æternam.
The Ladies shall join the Knights as often as possible to recite the Office, and it is commendable that they also recite it alone. But they can also say a mystery of the Holy Rosary for the good of the Militia.
Of brotherly correction
If a brother has committed a fault against the Rule or against the noble ideals of the Militia, he shall be reproved above all in secrecy, with humbleness and charity, exhorting him in a brotherly way to correct himself.
If, even after this admonishment, he shall commit the fault again, the Master shall be informed so that he may correct him secretly with authority.
Should this also not be sufficient, his case shall be brought before the Chapter, where the Master shall publicly contest his faults and his errors. If at this point the bother shall express the will to correct himself and to pursue in obedience, the Master shall accept without hesitation this good proposition and shall be the first to give him the greeting of peace, followed by all the members of the Chapter.
But if he shall persevere in his bad conduct, the Master shall have to send him away lest he should involve in his errors the others who are faithful. And he shall not be readmitted.
Should someone who has already pronounced the Promises or the Donation be no longer willing to serve in the Militia, he shall take no decision in his heart without having confided in the Master and having humbly asked his advice. He shall not act on impulse, because faithfulness is truly such if it overcomes trials of all sorts.
Should the Master decide to dispense him from obedience, this brother shall give back the habit and the Cross of the Militia and, after having exchanged a greeting of peace with all the members of the Chapter, he shall go freely.
Should that brother ask to be readmitted, the Master shall question him for a long time and if necessary he shall impose a trial period on him. Should the disposition of that brother have truly changed, and should he be ready to stably serve the Lord and the Blessed Virgin in the ranks of the Militia, he shall be readmitted in the Chapter. But in the last place, as if he were the youngest.
But, should someone abandon the Militia following his own council, without consulting the Master, he shall be considered out of the Militia and shall not be readmitted. And he shall be aware that he is not dispensed from any of the Promises that he has freely pronounced.
Of the admission of Novices
If someone shall ask to be accepted as a member of the Militia, his intentions are to be taken into consideration above all other things, that is if he truly desires to serve the Lord and the Blessed Virgin in humbleness and poverty, or if he is trying to satisfy very worldly wishes. Then, if his intentions are truly righteous and devout, he shall read the Rule once. Should he still persist in his wish to postulate, he shall be accepted as a Novice for his preparation for the Profession or the Donation.
During this period, that may vary at the Master’s discretion, and that can never be less that one year, the Master, or the person who shall be charged with the task, shall first of all have to augment and fortify the knowledge of the Novice with respect to the Holy Catholic Faith so that he may later defend it in this world with greater vigour and effectiveness.
The aptitude of the Novice for prayer shall thus be examined, and he shall in particular be directed towards the constant practice of reciting the Divine Office, whether with others or alone.
Finally, his Knightly forming shall be seen to, teaching him the history of Chivalry and its true ideals, so that its memory shall be his patrimony.
On the contrary, in the female Novice the aspects to be taken into consideration are her aptitude for serving, her willingness to collaborate in a sisterly way, her spirit of devotion and the authenticity of her Christian life, nevertheless without totally neglecting doctrinal and knightly teachings.
At the end of the novitiate, the Novice shall be admitted to the knightly Profession or the Donation, which shall be celebrated with the greatest solemnity.
Of the Squires
The example and the good reputation of the Knights could attract young men desirous of taking on the same way of life and of embarking on the same enterprises, but who are prevented from doing so by their young age.
The Militia cannot ignore this desire, on the contrary it shall strive to enhance it to help the young men embark on the difficult undertaking of serving in the Militia.
After having accurately inquired into their motivations, the Master shall thus accept their request and shall entrust them to the Knights so that they may see to their full growth until when the young men, having at least come of age, shall request to become Novices or to follow another course instead.
They are called Squires and to be entrusted to a Knight they must be sixteen years old, or younger with the Master’s dispensation.
Each Knight shall periodically report to the Master the progresses of his Squire.
The Master may decide to appoint a master of Squires to coordinate the life shared by all, but the Knight shall the one personally responsible for the young man entrusted to him.
The Master may entrust one or more Squires to one Knight on the basis of his judgement and of necessity, he may entrust the Squires he desires to himself and change previous entrustments after having heard the opinion of the Knights concerned and having taken into consideration the desires of the Squire.
The Squire follows his Knight in his undertakings and his life with total and filial devotion, as a disciple does with his master; the Knight shall take care of him as of the most precious gift given to him by God in this spiritual paternity sought and desired by both.
The same may occur for a young woman who wishes to follow the same course as the Ladies: she shall be called Aspirant Lady.
Of the deceased Master and brothers
When the Master cedes to death, that spares no one, what is impossible to deny her, for three days the whole Militia shall offer anywhere and with pure sentiments the due Office and the solemn Mass to Christ, and alms shall be given to the poor for his soul; the Chapter shall thus make arrangements for solemn obsequies together with all the Chaplains who charitably serve the Supreme Priest in the Militia with the Knights; for another seven days each brother shall recite for him the Holy Rosary and each year the whole Militia shall venerate his memory with prayers and alms.
If a professed brother dies, the due Office and the solemn Mass shall be offered, and alms shall be given to the poor for the good of his soul.
If a non professed brother, or one who serves for a fixed period of time, or a Chaplain dies, then they shall be recalled during the Office and the community Mass that follow the announcement of his death, and alms shall be given to the poor.
The Master and the professed brothers shall be buried with their habit.
Of the deceased Master and brothers
No brother shall presume to make other offerings, but day and night, with a pure heart, he shall remain in his state until he shall be compared to the wisest of prophets, the One who said “I shall take the chalice of salvation” (Ps. CXV, 4) and shall, with death, imitate the death of the Lord, because as He gave His life for him, he, too, shall be ready to give it for his brothers.
This is the offer that is convenient, this is the living victim that pleases God.
How the Knight should eat
Of abstinence and fasting
When the Knights meet, they shall consume meals together in a single hall, the refectory, where, should gestures made to draw attention go unnoticed, if the need arises to ask something one shall do so gently and in a whisper.
The brothers shall eat and drink moderately, so that they shall not overburden their spirit along with their body, and they shall rise from the table not completely filled to satiety; however, they shall not exceed in discipline or unauthorised abstinence so that the service to be performed shall not suffer as a consequence.
In the refectory a free place shall be ready at all times to welcome a pilgrim.
Every day, after dinner or supper, thanks shall be given with a humble heart to the Supreme Benefactor, Christ, in Church if it is in the vicinity, or in the refectory.
The brothers shall abstain from meat as prescribed by the Holy Church and generally every Friday and with a special spirit of penance on Lent Fridays; they shall also abstain from food and drink on days when fasting is prescribed, as preparation for the Profession and the Donation and when the Master shall request it as a means of mortification.
Sick brothers shall neither observe abstinence nor fast.
The amount that corresponds to the unconsumed food and drink shall be given to the almoner to be distributed to the poor.
How the brothers should dress
The Capitular habit of professed Knights shall be a white mantle with the red octagonal Cross on the left arm, so that those who have abandoned the life of darkness may acknowledge to have reconciled themselves with their Creator through a pure and chaste life. What is white if not uncontaminated chastity? And red the blood shed by Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross for everyone’s redemption? And the eight tips the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount?
Those who serve for a fixed period of time as simple professed shall be given a white tunic with the Cross of the Militia on the breast as service habit.
The Ladies, as symbol of their donation and good disposition at the service of the Militia, shall be given a white veil on which the Cross of the Militia shall be missing the upper arm, as the whole Cross is reserved to the Knights.
The squires shall wear a simple white tunic without the cross.
The Garderobe Attendant shall ensure that the habits given to the brothers are neither too long nor too short, but suitable for the brother who shall wear it.
And when they shall take the new habit they shall return the old one to the Garderobe Attendant so that it may be given to the Squires.
No one else shall be permitted to wear white habits.
The Chaplains and all those who serve in the Militia for other reasons shall not presume to receive anything unless the Master shall donate it spontaneously or charitably.
All the brothers have the precise obligation to take care of their aspect and to dress decently and with clothes suitable for any circumstance and respectful of social conventions, so that their presence may never offend anyone, but without yielding to the frivolity of fashions as evidence of poverty..
Of spiritual nourishment
Like the body, the soul, too, must have its daily nourishment and this is the praise that the Knight give unto God and Our Lady with the Divine Office.
But this is not sufficient and all the brothers must have recourse as often as possible to the confession of their sins, to the Master and in the Chapter for public faults against the Rule, to the confessor when God’s law has not been observed; and the day shall never fade away without having reconciled oneself with God and one’s brothers.
But is opportune and advisable for each brother to select and keep one sole spiritual adviser, so that he may more easily mend his faults and more readily travel the road that leads to a perfect donation.
And, as often as possible, each brother shall nourish himself with Christ in semblance of the Sacred Bread so that creature and Creator may become one more and more.
Conscious that silence lets God’s voice be more audible and prepares the soul to listen to it, each brother shall retire yearly to pray and meditate in solitude for at least two whole consecutive days; similarly he shall prepare for Holy Christmas and for the glorious Resurrection and the Profession with one day of silence and penance to pray and meditate on the mysteries of Faith and on his knightly vocation.
And yet, since we are conscious that every idle word generates sins, all the more reason to abstain from foul talk for the punishment of sins. We therefore prohibit that a brother dare to recall with another brother or any other person the foolish actions he did when he was in the secular chivalry, and the pleasures of the flesh and other arguments of this sort; and should he hear by chance someone who recounts such things he shall silence him or lead him back to obedience as quickly as possible.
How to recite the Office
When the Chapter gathers to give praise unto the Almighty God and Our Lady it shall do so with humbleness and reverence, and observing the liturgical prescriptions.
At the Gloria Patri and whenever the Holy Trinity is named, all shall stand and bow deeply, as at the Pater Noster that the Master or his representative shall recite alone as head of the community until “...et ne nos inducas in tentationem” so that everyone may respond “sed libera nos a malo.”
Of brothers who travel
Brothers who travel shall endeavour to observe the rules on eating and drinking and the other prescriptions, as far as their strength shall allow them, and they shall live in an irreproachable way so that strangers may give evidence on behalf of them.
They shall not profane the spirit of the Militia, neither with words nor with deeds, but shall offer, with their example, the salt of wisdom and the seasoning of good deeds.
The person they shall lodge with shall have an excellent reputation and the house of the host for that night shall not be left without light so that the dark enemy, God forbid!, may not cause damage.
We urge our brothers who travel to make proselytes to behave in this way: both (the Templar and the postulant) shall go before the Bishop of the Diocese and the Bishop shall hear the will of the postulant. Having heard the request, the Knight shall send him to the Master and the Chapter and, if his life is honest and worthy of such company, he shall be welcomed with mercy, if the Master and the brothers shall think fit.
But should he die on his trip to reach the Master and the Chapter, he shall receive all the brotherly benevolence of the poor Knights of Christ almost as if he were one of the brothers.
Of sick and elderly brothers
The sick brothers shall be very attentively taken care of as no others, as if Christ was being served through them, so as to keep alive in one’s memory the evangelic saying “I have been sick and you have visited me” (Mt. XXV, 36), and they shall be tolerated with patient diligence, because it is doubtless that divine praise shall thus be received.
It is necessary to tolerate the elderly with pious sympathy depending on the frailty of their strength, and to honour them zealously: they shall in no way be deprived of what is required by their body, with the exception of what is prescribed by the Rule.
Following the divine admonition, we teach you to shun and escape rivalry, envy, malignity, rumours, slander, discord (II Cor., 20; Gal. V, 20-21).
Each one shall therefore endeavour with a vigilant soul not to strike his brother, but meditate within himself upon the words of the Apostle: “Not to be a slanderer I do not whisper in a crowd” (Lev. XIX, 16).
Blind indeed are those who speak ill of others, and very unhappy are those who do not counter envy, wherefore they are submerged by the antique perversity of the shrewd enemy.
No one shall act of their own will
It is convenient that the Knights, who cherish nothing more than Christ, for Whose service they have made their Profession and for the glory of the Supreme Goodness or fear of the fire of hell, firmly obey the Master and seek his advice before making any choice, even a private one.
They shall therefore obey readily when an order has been given by the Master or by the person authorised by him.
On this subject the Truth says: "He obeyed me the moment he heard me” (Ps. XVII, 45).
All must respect this Rule
We order for ever that everyone respect this Rule in every part, even in respect to what may be unjustly taken from you.
Marcellus Albertus Cristofani della Magione Comes Sen.
clementissimi Dei gratia
Pauperorum Militum Magister ac Dux Militiae Templi
et Comes Palatinus
The old Order of the Poor Knights of Christ found in the writing of Saint Bernard “Liber ad Milites Templi de laude novae Militiae” the necessary basis for the new monastic and knightly spirituality, contemplative and combative, that would have characterised it in its almost two hundred years of glorious life at the service of the Church and of the neighbour. The “Liber” was the source of the Rule with all its norms for personal, community and hierarchical life, a means of personal sanctification and of realisation of the Reign of Christ, in Whose name, and in the name of the Virgin, the life of each Templar shall have a meaning and an aim.
A Rule had to be dictated also for the new Order of the Poor Knights of Christ of the reborn Militia Templi, and Our General Chapter has unanimously approved its text based on the old Rule, adapted to today’s requirements and to the aims of a modern Christian testimony through the ideals of Knighthood.
Therefore, in consideration of articles 10 and 24 of Our Constitutions, by Our power and right and by Our magistral authority we have decreed and we hereby
1) The text of the “Rule of the Poor Knights of Christ’ of the Order of the Militia Templi is ratified as approved by Our Most Excellent General Chapter.
2) The “Rule” shall have to be submitted to and approved by the competent Ecclesiastical Authority, His Excellency the Metropolitan Archbishop of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino, Ordinary for the Militia Templi, whose only future duty shall be the approval of possible modifications requested by the General Chapter.
From Our Magistral See in Castello della Magione on November the 12th, 1990, commemoration of Saint Jehoshaphat, bishop and martyr, Eleventh of the Militia and of Our Office.
This Decree, to which the seal has been affixed, is transcribed in the archives of H.E. the Master and Duke of the Militia Templi. The Chancellor (dom. Santo Bruzzone)
Dei Apostolicæ Sedis gratia
Senensis - Collensis - Ilcinensis
In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- Considering that the Order of the Militia Templi, founded on May the 17th, 1979, with Magistral See in the Castello della Magione of Poggibonsi (Siena), had been canonically acknowledged by Our Predecessor, H.E. Monsignor Mario Jsmaele Castellano O.P., with the Decree no. 24/88 of September the 8th, 1988, and the related Statute called “Constitutions” had been approved;
- in view of the fact that the professed members of the Order, Knights and Ladies, over these years have generously committed themselves to giving praise unto God and to the Liturgy, pursuing the course of a sound spirituality, and have performed a good apostolic service in particular towards the young;
- seeing that the request submitted by H.E. the Master and Duke of the Militia Templi, Count dom. Marcello A. Cristofani della Magione, with which he requests us to approve the Rule of the Order of the Militia Templi, called “Rule of the Poor Knights of Christ,” written in compliance with the spirit and the indications of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux for the old Order of the Temple, a Rule formerly approved by the General Chapter of the same Order of the Militia Templi;
- having examined the aforesaid Rule and having found it worthy of approval; by Our Ordinary Authority
WE HAVE DECREED AND WE DECREE:
1. The “Rule of the Poor Knights of Christ” of the Order of the Militia Templi, composed of 20 Chapters and attached to this Decree is approved.
2. The extract of this Decree shall be published on the Diocesan Bulletin. Siena, from the Archiepiscopal Palace, on November the 18th, 1990, Solemnity of the Consecration of the Cathedral.
THE METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP
(✠ Gaetano Bonicelli)
The Archiepiscopal Chancellor
(Sac. Mino Marchetti)
(Published on the Official Bulletin of the Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino no. 11-12 of November-December 1990)