"The original founders of the Masons of today were, of course, the Knights Templar about whom much is written today, most of it, unfortunately, nonsense from the point of view of serious historical scholarship. The Templars were organized under the spiritual patronage of the Roman Catholic Saint Bernard of Clairvaux for purposes of protecting and defending the Holy Land from the Saracens. The "Poor Knights" were headquartered near the ruins of the Temple of Solomon and took for themselves the name, "Templar" as a result. They became very influential and powerful and built many castles in Western Europe especially. About 20,000 of them died defending the Holy Land and Jerusalem and their history is not without controversy.
They also had a base in Ethiopia under Emperor Lalibela who then expelled them later. While in Ethiopia, the Templars borrowed heavily from the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. For example, the well-known "Templar Cross pattee" is that of the Ethiopian Church. Templars wore a cord around their necks in imitation of the religious cord worn by Ethiopian Christians called a "Matab." (The Ethiopians believe that as St Peter was baptising in the River Jordan, he would cut a string from his prayer shawl to tie around the newly baptized person's neck, thus the Coptic tradition still gives out such cords at baptisms and it is also popular in Slavic Orthodox Churches to wear Crosses on cords, rather than chains). Their long white robes were reminiscent of the prayer shawls worn by the Ethiopians etc.
The Templars came to Europe and brought with them the riches of Africa and Asia e.g. chess and medical insights."
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This site may at times contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml