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Omne Datum Optimum

The Bull Omne Datum Optimum, issued by Pope Innocent II in 1139 indicated the official approval of the Order by the Holy See. It granted many unique privileges and set some guidelines for the Order’s operations. This bull was soon followed by the bulls Milites Templi (Pope Celestine II, 1144) and Militia Dei (Pope Eugene III, 1145).

Bishop Innocent, Servant of the Servants of God. To his beloved sons Robert, grandmaster of the religious order of the Temple which is situated in Jerusalem, and his followers and brothers, both present and in the future forever. Every good reward and every good gift is from above, descending from the Father of Light, with Whom there is no change and no overshadowing vicissitudes. Caringly, beloved sons in the Lord, we praise the omnipotent God for you and on behalf of you, because your religious order, your venerable institution is made known throughout the world. Although you were by nature sons of wrath, committed to the pleasures of this age, through inspiring grace you became attentive hearers of the Gospel, having forsaken worldly ostentation and private property, indeed having abandoned the wide path that leads towards death, you humbly chose the hard way that leads to life and in order to justify being considered among the knighthood of God you always bear on your chest the sign of the life-giving cross. In agreement with this is the fact that you, just as true Israelites and warriors most skilled in holy war, are indeed fired up by the flame of charity and fulfill by your deeds the words of the Gospel that says: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his souls [sic, the text has animis ‘souls’ where is should say amicis ‘friends’]”, whence, in accordance with the words of the great Shepard, you are not afraid to lay down your souls for your brothers and defend them from attacks of the pagans.

Also, since you are known by the name of the Knights of the Temple, you were appointed by the Lord to be defenders of the Catholic Church and assailants of Christ’s foes. It is indeed lawful that may you exert in your pursuit and laudable devotion in such a holy deed with all your heart and all your mind. Nevertheless, we encourage your corporation in the Lord, and, for the remission of your sins, by the authority of God and St. Peter, prince of the apostles, we charge you, as well as your those serving you, that you intrepidly fight, invoking the name of Christ, against the enemies of the cross, in order to protect the Catholic Church and to secure that which is under the tyranny of pagans and ought to be rescued from their filth. As for the things that you will receive from the spoils, you can confidently put them to your own use, and we prohibit that you be coerced against your will to give anyone a portion of these. We establish that the house or “the Temple” in which you are gathered, for the praise and glory of God and the defense of his faithful ones, as well as liberation of the church of God, with all your goods and possessions that it is known to legitimately have at the present time or may acquire in the future through concessions of bishops, generosity of kings and princes, gifts of the faithful or in any other just away, with God’s help, shall be under the guardianship and protection of the Apostolic See for all time to come.

We also establish in this present decree that the religious life that has been instituted in your house, inspired by divine grace, shall be observed inviolably and the brothers who serve the Lord therein shall live chastely without personal property, and, confirming their profession by words and morals, shall be subject and obedient to their master and to those whom he ordains. Moreover, since this house of your sacred institution merited to be the source and origin of the order, it shall likewise forever be considered the head and principal of all the places that belong to it. In addition, we command that, upon your, Robert, our beloved son in the Lord, or any of your successors’ death, no brother of this house shall be put forward unless he is a military and religious man who had professed the habit of your order, and if the proposed man is elected by none other than all of the brothers or by a better and purer part of them. Moreover, no ecclesiastic or layman may infringe upon or diminish the customs jointly instituted by the master and the brothers for the purpose of observing their duty and religion. Those same customs, that have been observed by you for some time and have been fixed in writing, cannot be changed by anyone other than a master, at the consent of at least the better part of the chapter. Also, we prohibit and forbid in all possible ways any ecclesiastic of layman to exhort from the master and the brothers of this house any fealty, homage, oaths or other securities, often employed by seculars.

Be also aware that, as your holy institution and religious knighthood has been established by divine providence, it is not at all fitting for you to relocate to any other place under the pretext of a more religious life, because God who is indeed unchangeable and eternal, does not approve inconstant hearts, but rather wishes that you carry out the sacred plan, once intended, to the very end of the due action. How many great men in a military garb of worldly power pleased the Lord leaving him an eternal memorial? How many and how great men in battle armor, in their time, bravely fought in God’s witness and in defense of the laws of their fathers, consecrating their hands to the Lord in the blood of infidels, and after laboring in combat received the reward of eternal life? View your calling accordingly, brothers, both knights and servants, and, as the apostle says, “let each one of you abide in the calling wherein he was called.” Therefore we deny your once brothers, once dedicated and received into the holy order, any ability to return to secular life after making profession of your knighthood and assuming the religious habit. And it is not lawful for anyone, after making profession, to reject the Lord’s cross and the habit of your profession, once taken up, nor may he change residence to another place or even a monastery, under the pretext of a more or less religious life, if the brothers or the acting master have not agreed to it or have not been consulted, and no ecclesiastic or layman should have a permission to accept or retain them. And because those who are defenders of the Church should live and be sustained from the goods of the Church we by all means prohibit the exaction of tithes against your will from all movable and unmovable possessions and anything that belongs to your venerable house. But we confirm with apostolic authority the tithes that you might extract by your zeal, with the advice and consent of the bishops from the hands of clerics and laymen, and even those that you obtain with the consent of bishops and their clerics. And, so that nothing would lack for they fullness of your salvation and the care of your souls, and so that sacraments of the church and holy services are more conveniently held within your holy order, we sanction, in a similar fashion, that it is permitted to you to receive honest priests and clerics, who had received ordination in God, to the best of your knowledge, wherever they arrive to you from, and to keep them both in your headquarters and in other locations subordinate to it — provided that, if they are from the neighborhood, you ask their bishops for them, and that they are not considered hostile to any other profession or order.

But if the bishops happen not to be willing to concede them to you, in no way you have the right to receive and retain them by the authority of the holy Roman Church. If, however, some of them, after making the profession, appear to be troublemakers in your order or house, or simply not useful, you, along with the better part of the chapter, are allowed to remove them and give them the license to transfer to a different order where they wish to lead a godly life, replacing them with other suitable men. These, however, shall be tested within your community over a year’s term, after which, if their conduct measures up, and they have been found useful for your service, then they shall finally make the profession of living according to the rule and obeying their grandmaster, so that they may have the same food and clothing as you, as well as their bedding, except for what they wear as closed garments. But even these should not be permitted to become involved in the administration of your chapters or your houses other than so much as you would lay upon them. They shall also only have as much care of your souls as you have charged them with. Moreover, they shall not be subject to anyone outside of your chapter and they shall offer obedience in all and by all to you, Robert, my beloved son in the Lord, and your successors, as their masters and prelates. In addition, we command that you leave ordinations of the clerics, whom you might wish to be brought forth into the holy orders, to a Catholic bishop, if indeed he is Catholic and has the grace of the apostolic See, who, doubtlessly supported by our authority, bestows what is required. We also prohibit these clerics to preach for money or profit and you to send them to preach for the same purpose, unless it happens that the grandmaster of the Temple at the time makes a provision for this, for specific reasons. And whoever of these is accepted into your company, he shall promise to maintain permanency of residence, to change his habits and to fight for the Lord every day of his life, with obedience to the grandmaster of the Temple, having placed a written assurance thereof upon the altar. While also reserving for bishops episcopal rights, in regard to tithes, as well as religious services and burials, we likewise grant permission to build places of worship in locations given to the Holy Temple, where your community resides, in which religious services would certainly be held and where, if any one of your or your community should die, they may be buried. For it is not unbecoming and constitutes clear danger to the souls if the brothers of the order commingle with multitudes of men and crowds of women, under the pretext of going to church. In addition, we decree by apostolic authority that, in whatever place you happen to arrive, you should receive the sacraments of confession, unction and all others from honest and Catholic priests, lest something be lacking in the partaking of spiritual gifts. Because indeed we are all in one Christ, and there is no distinction of faces with God, both in the remission of sins and in other beneficences, and we wish both your communities and your servants to be recipients of the apostolic benediction that has been granted to you. Therefore, nobody is permitted to rashly trouble the aforesaid place or to take out its possessions or to retain the possessions that had been taken out, as well as to diminish them or to wear them out by any ill-treatment, but they should be kept untouched and be used for the good of your order and God’s other faithful, in every possible way. Therefore, if anyone, with the knowledge of this our decree, rashly attempts to act against it and, having been warned for the second and third time, and does not suitably correct his fault, he shall lose the dignity of his power and honor. He will find himself accused of the perpetrated injustice before the divine court and be unworthy of the most holy body and blood of our God, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and also be subject to severe vengeance at final judgment. Those, however, who maintain these precepts shall obtain the benediction and grace of the omnipotent God and his blessed apostles Peter and Paul. Amen.

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