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The success of the novel “The Da Vinci Code” is perhaps the single most among factors which brought to public attention the Priory of Sion… History however, points out that there was a Catholic monastic order in Jerusalem by that name during the same time as the Knights Templar. This was proven to be fact by way of a papal bull stating that this order had monasteries and abbeys at Mt. Carmel in Palestine, as well as properties in southern Italy and France. In addition, an organization called the Priory of Sion registered with the bureau of records in Annemasse, France, in 1956.
The official emblem of the Priory of Sion is partly based on the fleur-de-lis, which was a symbol particularly associated with the French monarchy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A level of infamy was generated about the Priory of Sion because of a man named Pierre Plantard, who apparently lied his way across Europe, as he claimed to be secretary-general and then grand master of the Priory of Sion. While Plantard was allegedly serving the Priory in the 1960s, he appears to have forged documents that alluded to the survival of a sacred bloodline of the Merovingian’s, a line of Frankish kings. These documents were used as part of the research for the book “Holy Blood, Holy Grail. When authors Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln published their work in 1982, it immediately became a bestseller and stirred up a world-wide controversy over its premise that there’s a lineage still existing that stems directly from Jesus Christ… “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” caused such a sensation that it was subsequently banned by the Catholic Church. Dan Brown’s book The Da Vince Code, and other books inspired by this questionable research followed, all of which put forth this controversial theory that descendants of Jesus Christ have survived and that the Priory of Sion kept the secret. Plantard ultimately admitted that he forged the documents because he wanted to create the illusion that he too, was part of the Merovingian line. Scholars then turned on Holy Blood, Holy Grail because it utilized resources that have been more or less proven to be false. The Da Vinci Code was also widely attacked, and several books have been written that attempt to debunk its whole premise. Plantard is reported to have resigned as grand master of the Priory of Sion in 1984 after suffering public humiliation, and died in February of 2000. The controversy did not diminish or subside following Plantard’s confession and death, but rather, it in fact continued to roar by way of The Da Vinci Code.
holy grail (Photo credit: Paul Stevenson)
On the other hand, what do we know about the Priory of Sion… A conclave of Calabrian monks left the Belgian Abbey of Oval in 1090 to journey to the Holy Land as pilgrims. Five years later, the first Crusade was launched, which ended with the capture of Jerusalem from the Muslims in 1099. One of the key players in the success of this venture was Godfrey of Bouillon, the devout knight from France. After the capture of Jerusalem the group of Calabrian monks and others elected Godfrey as de facto king of Jerusalem, but he refused the title and instead accepted that of “Protector of the Holy Sepulcher.” Godrey then founded a group of 12 knights called “the Order of the Holy Sepulcher,” which eventually evolved into the Knights Templar. As the result of the Calabrian monks support of Godfrey, which was based on the belief that he was a descendant of the Merovingian’s, and therefore as a descendant of King David through Jesus and Merovech, he was able to make a place for the monks in an abbey on Mount Zion. Sometime between 1099 and 1118, it’s believed that this group of monks (now called the Order of Sion) and the men who would later be known as the Knights Templar became one organization and unified with the same leadership. There is no record of this happening, but the Order of Sion did occupy and abbey on Mount Zion until about 1291, when Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslims…Mount Zion was also where the Knight Templar made their headquarters. The Knights Templar was formally recognized by the pope in 1139; and according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the Templars and the Order of Sion remained allied until an event called “the cutting of the elm” at Gisors in 1188. The history of the Templars also refers to the symbolic cutting of the elm, and the first grand master of the Priory of Sion is listed as Jean de Gisors, who was master of the castle and lands where the incident took place.
Emblem of the Military Order of Templars. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There was no acrimony between the Order of the Sion and the Knights Templar when they parted ways, as they stayed in contact for centuries subsequent. Furthermore, these two organizations shared much in the way of information and knowledge and maintained constant communication after their formal separation. Subsequent to vacating their abbey in Jerusalem, the Order of Sion seems to have existed for several hundred years until it was finally absorbed by the Jesuits in the 17th century… It is interesting to note that the Jesuits were suppressed by the Catholic Church, and this continued until their restoration in 1814. There is speculation that this may have been due to the influence of the absorbed Order of Sion? And there is evidence that the Order of Sion became the Priory of Sion after the cutting of the elm.