In Praise of the New Knighthood
Liber ad milites Templi : De laude novae militae

  1. Warning
  2. Prologue
  3. Chapter 1 - A word of exhortation for the knights of the Temple
  4. Chapter 2 - On worldly knighthood
  5. Chapter 3 - On the new knighthood
  6. Chapter 4 - On the life style of the knights of the Temple
  7. Chapter 5 - The Temple of Jerusalem - Current page

CHAPTER 5 - The Temple of Jerusalem

  1. 9.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 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.

  2. 10. 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 abandoned.
    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.

  3. 11. 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.
    Indeed, glorious things are told of you, city of God! Now then we will set forth something of the delights in which you abound, for the praise and glory of your name.

Copyright (C) 1996, Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood, prologue-chapter five, translated by Conrad Greenia ocso, from Bernard of Clairvaux: Treatises Three, Cistercian Fathers Series, Number Nineteen, © Cistercian Publications, 1977, pages 127-145 (without notes). All rights reserved.. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.
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