Crucem Sanctam subiit
A military chant from the Knights Templars (the real ones) in honor of the Resurrection and Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem
He bore the holy cross
who shattered hell
He was girded with power
He rose on the third day. Alleluia!
This Easter anthem is the work of the Knights Templar who were closely associated with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I call it an “anthem” because it truly has a military ring. The “Alleluia” refrain sounds like it could just as likely come from a column of mounted knights as from a choir of monks. Of course, the Templars were both.
Each one of the verses begins: “Christ is risen . . .” and then identifies the effects of the Resurrection on the Lord as well as on us: His rejection is His victory; He will die no more; His Blood has bought the fruit of Easter for us.
He who bore the weapon of the Cross and went into battle in order to liberate His people, has destroyed the very gates of death and hell by his sacrificial death. When the battle is over and the smoke clears there is silence over the whole earth—an apocalyptic silence that might be misconstrued for the end of all things. But it is exactly the opposite. After a moment, from the smoke and ashes the One who is called Faithful and True in a garment sprinkled with His own blood rides forth on a white horse (Rev 19:11). His word is as a sword that forever separates the light from the darkness and his livery proclaims His identity: He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (16).
The faith of the Templars led them to face death for the sake of Christ, the Holy Sepulcher and for the People of God who travelled to the holy places. We talk a great deal about a “Resurrection Faith.” Sometimes what we mean is too fluffy to be real. To live in the light of the Resurrection is to face death with one’s face set like flint, and to do so in joy and hope (cf. Is 30:7).
Last year, shortly before Easter, I had the blessing of celebrating Mass inside the tomb of Our Lord and then of spending the whole night locked in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with other pilgrims. We were able to spend as much time as we wanted praying inside the tomb. I was kneeling at Ground Zero. The tomb is dead center in the charola of the Church, the rotunda that marks the center of the world. All Templar churches were modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with round sanctuaries and an altar in the middle, to commemorate the miracle of the Resurrection. All roads lead to Jerusalem.
Inside the enclosed space of the tomb is another hidden space, like a Holy Grail. There is an icon of Our Lady on the marble wall of the tomb that just looks like it is hung there. But it is actually a door that reveals the rock wall of the original tomb. The stone is worn away polished from the uncounted pilgrims who touched and kissed it.
In the icon, Our Lady holds the Holy Grail. Actually, what is depicted is a ciborium. Grail means “dish” and the legends regarding the Holy Grail vary as to whether the object was a cup or a dish. In any case, the Eucharistic and Marian significance remains the same.
These are enclosed spaces within spaces—places of worship, sanctuaries in which we find meaning, refuge, hope and ultimate victory. Like concentric circles, these spaces lead us deeper within the mystery of faith in order to be liberated and break out from the narrowness the ego. We go in to get out.
He was girded with power. And so are we. This is the Easter proclamation of “Alleluia! Praise the Lord!” The chant of the Templars sets the cadence to our march forward toward the light of the new dawn and to eternity. But we do not need to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to benefit from the Resurrection, though I cannot recommend making such a pilgrimage enough. Our altars and sanctuaries, our sacred vessels, indeed, the very bodies of those who have become temples of the Holy Spirit, all lead us to Jerusalem. Our love for all that is true, good and beautiful, preeminently represented by the Resurrected body of Christ made present in the Eucharist and by the Immaculate and pierced Heart of the Coredemptrix, anchors us to Ground Zero. The power that singed our Lord’s image onto the shroud at the moment of His resurrection burst outwards like a shock wave that continues to reverberate through time and space. May we be singed with the image of Christ by the same Easter sunburst.
Christ has risen
and shone upon his people
whom he redeemed
with his blood. Alleluia!