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Article published by Jorge Molist in Revista de Arqueología

   ooking for settings for my novel The Ring I came across a fascinating church. My interest increased when I learned that it was the headquarters in Catalonia of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The parish church of Santa Anna, at a few meters from the popular Plaza Catalunya, has an intimate, almost clandestine, look. As a matter of fact during Napoleon’s invasion it was closed by the French and it seems that it was used by the Catalan resistance against the invaders.

   It is a hidden place, hidden from people, and even it seems, from time, and you get to it by crossing a little square, completely surrounded by modern buildings, that has two doors, one that opens on to Santa Anna Street and the other on to Ribadeneyra Street, both of which are shut during the night, giving more protection and mystery to the building.

   There seems to be a certain fear, a bitter remembrance, when on days like the first of May, the sacristans nervously wait for the last visitors to leave so that they can close the church in a hurry before the usual time. Is this an absurd fear, now well into the XXI century, that an anticlerical mob might damage the church?  Or is it that places too retain their memories, just as people do?

   Because in 1936, both churches, the old one that we can still see today, and the new, a stylized neo-gothic building, were set on fire in a riot. Maybe because the old church was part of the national heritage, its walls were left standing, but the new one was dynamited and all that remains of it is a single wall bordering the square.

   In the search for the symbols of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, I did not find any of the Order’s crosses engraved on their stones.

Caravaca
 
Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem
 

   There was no “quintuple cross” representing the five wounds of Christ, but a very different one, the one of the double arms, that turns out to be the “patriarchal cross”. This was the sign used by the Patriarch of Jerusalem that was also known as the cross of Lorena, and in Spain as the cross of Caravaca.

   It seems that originally this was the cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, but that Godofred of Bouillón, Duke of Lorena, and first de facto Christian king of Jerusalem, took this away from them, offering them in exchange the quintuple cross, with the Templars adopting the “patriarchal cross” in 1118.

   Even more surprising than the use of the “patriarchal cross” in a church belonging originally to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem was that after the fire of 1936,there appeared a big cross paté that had been hidden behind an altar. See picture.

Iglesia de Santa Ana   The paté cross is without doubt the most characteristic Templar one; it is red and has four equal arms that ‘splay’ open at the ends. We can also see today one of these crosses high up in one of the roofs of the church.

   The unexpected appearance of a “patriarchal cross” in a site belonging to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem may have an explanation despite the fact that the church was built when supposedly this cross was already Templar, but where did these paté crosses, exclusively Templar, come from? Were Templar rituals secretly carried on in that church way after the Templar order was forbidden?  This is the theory that I explore in my novel The Ring.  But sometimes reality is more astonishing than fiction and you can see what happened afterwards in this connection in the article “Esoteric knights in Santa Anna”.

   Of course The Ring is just a novel and, while offering the reader certain food for thought, aims mainly to give pleasure. It’s not a historical essay.  But this does not preclude everything described in it from having a solid basis, or my study of the chapel called “Dels Perdons”  (Of Forgiveness) or the “Holy Sepulchre”, and the lost crypt of Saint Joseph, from being strict and rigorous.

 

 
   
 
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