The Mystic Ladder
Translated From The Spanish
By Edwin A. Sherman
The mystic ladder pertains particularly to us as Knights Kadosh, as the type of our order. It is composed of two ascents or supports that remind us of the compact which took place between Philip the Fair and Pope Clement the V, and the strength of that union which was given against our predecessors. The reunion of the two ascents or supports, and the seven steps of which it is composed, give an exact idea of the seven conditions which Philip imposed on Beltian de Goth, when he was Archbishop of Bordeaux, to be seated in the chair of St. Peter, when he obligated him to participate in the destruction of the Knights Templars.
And so you likewise complete your obligations and swear implacable hatred to the enemies of that Order which was the pattern of all the virtues; and we now have the obligation of employing all our forces for the total ruin of evil and priestly tyrants, upon whose heads must fall the blood of Jacques de Molay and his martyred companions.
After the death of Benedict XI, which occurred on the 6th of July, 1304, the cardinals assembled to elect a new Pope, and were divided into two bands, one French and one Italian.
Philip the Fair, King of France, had projects which he could not carry out without the assistance of the Pope who should be elected. His party fomented the divisions in the conclave to favor his designs. He ordered search to be made for Beltian de Goth, then Archbishop of Bordeaux, and in the conference which took place he informed him of his projects and the power he had to elect him Pope, affirming that an oath would be required of him to execute seven propositions which would be made known to him excepting the seventh which he had guarded in reserve until the moment of its execution. Devoured by the heat of his ambition to be seated on the PONTIFICAL Throne, that Prelate accepted the bribe and sold himself.
Philip made known to him the first six conditions, which are foreign to the history of our order: and after having exacted and received his oath for the execution of the seventh, and holding as hostages the brothers and nephews of Beltian, the Archbishop arrived in effect to be Pope, and took the name of Clement V. He established his see at Avignon, in France, where he put in execution the first six conditions which he had accepted. When the favorable moment arrived for the execution of the seventh, Philip the Fair declared that it consisted in the total extermination of the Knights Templars throughout all Christendom, which was done as far as possible in his power, and that of the monarchs with whom he was allied.
Clement adopted the following ruse: He first caused a new crusade to be preached in Europe, and even in Syria; he then sent the following letter to Palestine to the Grand Master of the Templars and Hospitaliers:
“We inform you, my brethren, that we have been urgently solicited by the Kings of Aragon and Cyprus for aid to the Holy Land. We order you to come to France as secretly as possible, to deliberate with us. You will also be careful to bring with you large sums to equip a numerous army.”
Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of Templars, obeyed the injunctions of the HOLY FATHERS; but Foulques de Villeret, the Grand Master of the Hospitalliers, occupied with the siege of Rhodes, could not quit his army, and thus delayed the ruin of his Order. The unfortunate De Molay sailed for France, and by a trap, fell into the hands of his enemies. The Pope had agreed that the Knights of the Temple should be arrested at the same time, in different Christian Kingdoms, and that they should be handed over to the Inquisitors as suspected of heresy: that their property should be seized in the name of the church and that they should be put to death at the stake and upon the scaffolds, after having been put to the torture to make them avow to imaginary crimes.
The execution of this frightful plot was not deferred: the Pope informed the King of Aragon, Castile and of Portugal to annihilate the Templars, and on the day appointed they were all arrested and plunged into the dungeons of the Inquisition. The iniquity of the Judges was such that they pardoned a murderer named Squin de Florian, who had been confined with a Knight Templar, because he deposed that his companion had revealed to him the crimes and impurities at the reception of Templars. Squin de Florian, the robber and assassin was received at a public audience by Philip the Fair and Pope Clement the V, laden with presents and glorified for his religious zeal.
After such encouragement to informers, thousands of them arose on all sides and the duties of the Inquisitors became easier.
They were also sufficiently encouraged by Philip the Fair and Clement the V who presided over an auto da fe. In Italy, Austria, Spain, and particularly in France, a prodigious number of scaffolds were erected, which consumed the unfortunate victims of the cupidity of a Pope and the avarice of a King.
So perished the gallant De Molay, the last Grand Master of the Templars, and his brave companions in arms, betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and cruelly slaughtered by order of the Head of the Church and the Kings of the realms. These bloody executions having terminated the two execrable tyrants divided between themselves the riches of the Templars. Philip kept the land and Clement took all the ornaments of gold and silver, and the coined money, which enabled him to reward the infamous panderings of his nephew and the Countess de Foix.
But God had at last marked the end of the term of this criminal existence. Whilst the Pontiff was being transported to Bordeaux his malady increased; they were obliged to stop his litter at Roquemare on the Rhone, in the Diocese of Nimes, where Clement died on the 20th day of April, 1314.
As soon as Clement the V had closed his eyes, his treasures were pillaged. The cardinals seized on enormous sums of coined money. Bernard, Count de Lornogne, nephew and minion of the dead Pope, carried off chalices and ornaments worth more than a hundred thousand gold florins ($5,347,000.) The Countess de Foix stole as her share all the jewels of the HOLY FATHER, and there were no minions nor mistresses of the Cardinals who were not enriched by the spoils of the Sovereign Pontiff. Jean Villani says that “in the midst of this disorder in which every one was so desirous of pillage, they only left an old traveling mantle to cover the dead body of Clement, and that was in part consumed by a candle falling on the bed where it lay.” For two whole years the Christian World was surrendered to the most deplorable anarchy. Philip the Fair followed Clement to the grave and the summons to them by De Molay at the stake “to meet him at the Bar of God within one year” had been fulfilled. (Philip IV, the Fair, was born at Fontainebleu, France, in 1268. He came to the throne in 1285. Crowned at Rheims Jan. 6th, 1286. Died Nov. 29th, 1314, from an accident while hunting.) In 1316 James de Ossa (or “Jimmy Bones” as he was called) was elected Pope, by himself placing the tiara on his own head, proclaiming himself Pope, by the name of “John the twenty-second,” on the 21st of September of that year. He established the infamous “Apostolic Chancery” with a scale of prices for indulgences for every sort of crime which by its extortion and greed prepared the way for the light and dawn of the Great Reformation in the 16th century, until the sun of Liberty burst forth at last over the world, creating new Nations on the Continent of America, which free men and Freemasonry, amidst blood and tears, have consecrated as their own and our own beloved Scottish Rite, from the birth and organization of the American Republic and Nation, the United States of America, which can never be dissolved. Cato Perpatria.