Relics of the Knights Templar - saints and veneration

Saints or angels were an inspiration for Templars and Hospitallers. "Particularly popular among the military orders were female martyr saints. Templar Peñíscola, for example, held some relics of Saint Margaret and Saint Mary Magdalene, among others.  Depictions of Saint Catherine also decorate the walls of many Templar churches, such as the ones in Metz (France) and Chwarszczany (Poland). There frescoes of the Holy Virgins, including Saint Catherine and Saint Barbara, originally commissioned by the Templars, were later refreshed by the Hospitallers in testament to their enduring popularity.

The second group of saints with a seemingly obvious appeal to the military orders were military men and soldiers. (...Yet) the only military saint who inspired widespread devotion among the knights was Saint George. His relics could be found at the Templar grand priory of Auvergne in 1292, while his arm and iron from his lance were recorded at the Hospitaller site at Moures on Cyprus between 1418 and 1420 by a visiting pilgrim from Gascony. (...) Saint George never seems to have attracted as much interest as the female martyrs. (...)

At their European preceptories, relics could generally be found in conventual chapels, and this raises the question of where and how they were displayed. Most chapels were simple structures; but others, particularly the wealthier possessions of the Templars and the Hospitallers, had distinctive layouts, with a central rotunda, an encircling aisle (...) This particular plan form was typologically inspired by the fourth-century Anastasis rotunda of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which has a long history of artistic representation and architectural mimesis. (...)

The Templar rule hints that the round nave could have served as seating for the congregation attending Mass, with the chancel being reserved for chaplains. It  is also possible that the space was used for reception ceremonies, and the layout would be well suited to the exhibition of relics in the center of the rotunda. This would allow pilgrims and other visitors to circulate around the outside in the aisle."

Text focussing on the Templars selected from Gerrard, C.M. and Borowski, T. (2017) 'Constructing identity in the Middle Ages : relics, religiosity and theMilitary Orders.', Speculum., 92 (4). pp. 1056-1100. Illustration: The St George Arm-shaped reliquary from the Convent of St George at Prague Castle, about 1270s. Photo by Zde on Wikimedia Commons

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