When Friday the 13th rolls around on the calendar (as it does at least once each year) many people readily admit that they feel a little uneasy. Some people, although they claim not to be superstitious, will confess that they experience some level of apprehension on Friday the 13th as they are concerned about avoiding any “bad luck”.
So, why is Friday the 13th considered an unlucky day? Some historians believe that Friday the 13th has garnered a reputation for being an unlucky day from its association with Jacques de Molay – the 23rd and final Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar.
Jacques de Molay was born in Burgundy, France in about 1243. His early life remains shrouded in history. He joined the Order of the Knights Templar as a young man and served the Order in the Holy Land.
De Molay was chosen as Grand Master of the Templars in April of 1292 and led the Knights Templar for about 20 years until the order was officially banned by Pope Clement V in 1312.
The Order of the Knights Templar was established in 1119 and grew as an elite Catholic military force headquartered in Jerusalem. The Order become an essential force during the centuries of the Crusades. During the medieval period, the devoutly Christian Templars fulfilled their vows to protect European pilgrims as they traveled to and from Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars were “fighting” knights of their religious-based order. They protected travelers and pilgrims who were at risk of barbarous attacks on the roads leading to Jerusalem. Aside from serving as a security force, the Templars also worked as money changers akin to modern bankers. Over the decades, the Order became wealthy, and powerful as they controlled land and strategic castles and were a force to be reasoned with.
As the Crusades ended due to failing support from European nobility, the position of the Knights Templar was in question. Many believed that the Templars had become too powerful and plotted to find a way to disband the Order. Among the Templars critics was King Philip IV of France. The King was deeply in debt for services provided by the Templars and desperately wished to find a way to eliminate both the debt and free himself from any retribution from the Order.
King Philip ordered hundreds of the Templars in France to be arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307. Grand Master Jacques DeMolay was severely tortured to the point where he made false confessions of heresy although he later recanted the confession. Nonetheless, in a desperate attempt to destroy the Templars and save himself from paying his debts, King Philip sentenced DeMolay to be executed on charges of heresy, corruption, and committing unholy acts.
Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques DeMolay, was burned at the stake on a small island in the River Seine in front of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in March of 1314 making DeMolay a martyr and creating a legendary figure.
The tales of the Templars and DeMolay have become the subjects for a multitude of conspiracy theories of what may have happened to the fabulous treasure and wealth of the Templars following the martyrdom of Jacques DeMolay. The legends of the Templars, the Order’s possible connection to Freemasonry, and the unending questions about their legendary treasures has been explored in countless books and movies. This includes the bestselling novel by Dan Brown “The DaVinci Code”, as well as the blockbuster Disney films directed by Jerry Bruckheimer beginning with “National Treasure” which starred Nicholas Cage. It seems that nearly everyone enjoys tales of mysterious hidden treasure and conspiracy theories about where and how the powerful Knights Templar may have escaped the wrath of a vindictive French king.
So, when Friday the 13th rolls around – ask yourself this question, “Do you feel lucky or unlucky?”