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Skull and Bones Symbol: Templar Tombs

One of the most noteworthy of ancient secret symbols, the skull and crossed bones symbol was also one of the most important Knights Templar symbols.

The emblem of the skull and crossed bones was an important religious symbol for the members of the Knights Templar association. One particular use of this emblem was in the tombs of the Knights Templar. Specifically, the emblem was incorporated into the unique burial tradition practiced by the Templar Knights. Bodies laid in Templar graves have been discovered as having had the legs removed from the torso. In addition, the legs have been crossed in a posturing similar to the intersecting bones featured on the Templar flag, the jolie rouge, which was also used by pirates. Former Templar knights flew the jolie rouge flag on their ships after becoming pirates subsequent to the disbanding of the association during the early fourteenth century.

The emblem of the skull and intersecting bones featured on the jolie rouge flags was representative for the former knights of bodily resurrection; alternatively, the emblem was traditionally representative of death for pirates. Both used the flag to similarly warn others of their ruthlessness with regard to treating victims. In addition, for the former templar knights, the skull and crossed bones symbol was a direct allusion to the Crucifixion: the skull represented Golgotha, which is Aramaic for “The Place of the Cross” (Matthew 27: 33), the place where Jesus was believed to have been crucified, while the crossed bones represented the cross on which Jesus died. This gave a rich religious significance to the manner in which members of the Templar association were buried.

In fact, the Knights believed that only the skull and two bones were required in order for bodily resurrection to occur. This belief consequently translated into the manner in which the bodies of members of the Knights of Templar association were buried upon their death. Conversely, the Roman Catholic Church espoused that resurrection was a physical phenomenon that required all bones to be properly buried in order to ensure that the individual have the possibility of attaining heaven. This divergence in opinion led to a rift between the Knights Templar and the Pope of Rome. Pope Clement V, under pressure from Philip IV of France, officially disbanded the monastic order in 1312.

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