History of the OSMTJ Branches

1 – The history of the Grand Priory of Italy is as complex as that of international templar events, but its events are not very well known. Since 1815 the Grand Priory of Italy had dissociated itself from the Johannine beliefs of the Fabré-Palaprat. In claiming his autonomy from French affairs, loyalty to the Statutes of Philippe d’Orléans of 1705 was proclaimed, giving rise to a double Regency, entrusted to Giovanbattista di Valpezzala and Alvise di Valsile. The Grand Priory of the Italian Province was divided into four Regions or Priories (St. Mark, St. John, St. Stephen, St. Hilary) and twelve Valleys or Commanders, entrusted to Knights who would have assumed the predicate and the noble weapons, as in use for a long time. This orientation was reconfirmed at a Chapter held in Venice in 1867 and lasted until 1945, when his last Regent, Alessandro Vettori of San Marco and Valdorica, in charge since 1925 and of fascist political ideas, was executed in 1945 by the partisans in Bologna . Before dying he would have entrusted the fate of the Order to five Knights, only one of whom remains alive, such Gastone Ventura (1906-1981), and long after the war, he will reconstitute the Order in 1964, assuming the burden of Regency and continuity of the Order in Italy. After the death of Gastone Ventura there was a sort of fog and the Italian Templars, until 1993, passed under the jurisdiction of the Grand Priory of Switzerland, divided into two Great Balivates: the Historico-Lombard of Upper Italy and the Grand Bailiff of Tuscany. In Florence, some willing, led by Giuseppe Bagnai and stimulated by Nicolas Haimovici Hastier, decided to ask Switzerland for autonomy and become a Grand Priory of Italy. In this sense, on March 30, 1993, they presented a petition to the Grand Chancellor of the Order, Van der Stock, Belgian, asking to be constituted as Grand Priory of Italy.

2. The Bagnai group On 29 April 1995, in San Remo, the Great Commendatore, Haimovici, decreed the birth of a High Council for the Italian Language and, on 30 September 1995, decided to proceed with the election of the Grand Prior of Italy. Giuseppe Bagnai was elected and on 18 November of the same year, in Florence, within the framework of a National Chapter, the Statutes and Regulations of the new Grand Priory were approved. The Grand Priory of Italy also endowed itself with its own civil structure, but its Statutes and Regulations did not seem to some conform to those approved by the Knights in November 1995. The birth of this Templar structure, with four Commands, respectively In fact, Florence, Bologna, Rome and Milan aroused the opposition of some Knights, who did not intend to recognize the designation of Bagnai by Haimovici. After many controversies and fierce discussions, some dissociated themselves and, among them, the journalist Walter Grandis. There was a large exchange of letters and, finally, on 7 July, in Desenzano, the dissident members of the High Council met, who declared to identify themselves with the Grand Priory of the Italian Language, recognized by the Grand Chancellor Van der Stock, and not to recognize the Bagnai as the Grand Prior. The dissident Templars provisionally headed the Grand Balivo Corrado Damiani, from Trieste. On August 31, 1996, from Nice, the Great Commendatore Haimovici, with Magisterial Decree DM n.BB5, expelled these dissidents from the Order. This decision was not recognized by the Van der Stock who contested the very legitimacy of the Haimovici power because, according to him, nothing would have done to proceed with the election of the Grand Master and, therefore, the supreme decision-making power would have returned to the hands of the Grand Chancellor. When he went to Charleroi, Belgium, where the Van der Stock resided, on 28 February 1997 the Grandis was commissioned, like Visiteur d’Italie, to try to repair the relationship with Bagnai, an attempt that failed definitively a few weeks later. Thus it came about that on 29 September of the same year the Grand Chancellery of the Order (Van der Stock) issued Decree 67.8 with which the constitution of a National Council for the leadership of the Grand Priory of the Italian Language, excluding the group, was established. Bagnai.

3 – The Grandis group A serious institutional conflict opened between the Van der Stock and the Haimovici that led to the coexistence of two different OSMTJ Orders in Italy. In fact, the Grandis subsequently received several assignments from the Van der Stock, until, on 5 June 1999, G. Prior of Italy OSMTJ, in opposition to that of Bagnai, will be appointed. Giuseppe Bagnai’s group will then undergo further hardships. On April 15, 1997, from Nice, the Great Commendatore, Haimovici, withdrew the trust to the Grand Chancellor Van der Stock and, the following October 28, with DM n BB7, given the seriousness of the violations and abuses committed, temporarily suspended by his functions the Grand Prior, Bagnai, who refused to recognize the superior authority of the Grand Commander, as a “foreigner”, appointing Prof. Gustavo Ottolenghi in his place as regent Grand Prior. 12 November, with a subsequent Ministerial Decree n. DD3, the Haimovici, dissolved the Grand Priory of Italy by instructing the Ottolenghi to reconstitute it, within twelve months, with the name of Order of the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem. Subsequently, the Haimovici, after having consulted the Grand Priors of Switzerland and Occitania and the Grand Referandario of the OSMTJ, on 22 November, with DM n. BB8, expelled from the Order, along with others, the former Grand Prior, Bagnai. Finally, with DM n. AA17, dated 10 December 1997, appointed Grand Prix of the Grand Priory of Italy, the Grand Magistral Councilor, Stelio W. Venceslai. The new Grand Prior joined the Atlantic observance, entering the OSMTH constituting On 1 February 1998, the Bagnai founded another Grand Priory, adhering, instead, to the International Federative Alliance (IFA), but such organization after a short time has practically dissolved.

4 – The Zampolli group As part of the Grandis organization, after a few years there was a split and a group of Knights and Officers, led by Alberto Zampolli, after furious controversy, was established in 1992, in another autonomous group, as Grand Priory of the Language Italian – OSMTJ Registration took place in Pagani, a small town in Basilicata, and the group began to expand throughout Italy. Zampolli was particularly active: he sponsored and made his own the idea that Hugues de Paynes, the first Templar Master, was actually an Italian, Ugo or Ugone de Pagani or De Paganis. He boasted of having obtained, on June 25, 2003, the recognition of the World Templar Organization – OR.MO.TE and, in 2004, he came into contact with a certain Pasleau, a former Belgian Knight, who, according to him, in his 1965, he was appointed Grand Master by Constantin Platounoff of the former Covias group. The Pasleau, long since disappeared from the Belgian Templar chronicles, also because now old and perhaps harmless, was suddenly exhumed by Zampolli, who tried to turn it into a myth for his followers. Shortly before his death (29 May 2004), finally, Pasleau would have appointed him (19 May 2004) Lieutenant Grand Master ad interim and for life, which is rather contradictory. When Pasleau died, Zampolli proclaimed himself the 47th Grand Master of the Order. In summary, the splinter Templars have given birth to a secondary branch of the Order which then disappears. On this branch a false is grafted which is repeated a little everywhere. Given that the modern history of the Templars is little known, but very intricate, the fake becomes, with a chain of “copy and paste”, especially on the various websites, a historical truth. A colossal lie can help to be great. Pasleau had no power either as Grand Master, for he was never such, nor as a Knight, having been expelled from the Order after a few months of entering it. Just before he died he made the last scam. As for his moral authority, just browse through the Belgian press of the time, and not only, to assess the stature of the man in question.

5 – History of the Grand Priory of Italy – OSMTH
The Italian situation was described until 1997, the year that ended an era of great fluctuations. The current Grand Priory of Italy, in fact, was born on 10 December 1997, with a small group of members who remained loyal to the Orthodox Templar. At the beginning, obviously, the structure was very small (part of the Italian Templars had followed the Bagnai Group) and had only three Commendas, concentrated in Rome, Osimo (Ancona) and Palermo. Later, the Commendas of Caserta, Arezzo and Siena were added. This was not a very favorable situation, both because of the difficulties posed by the existence of many Templar groups or self-styled Templars, and because of the difficulty of ensuring a homogeneous relationship between the members of the Grand Priory, coming from different origins and associations. This led the Grand Prior, elected in December 1997, to elaborate a series of institutional documents, to stabilize the Ritual, for the organization of the G. Priory and for the rights and duties of the Knights (the De Magni Priorati Italiae Militum Temples Code). In July 2002 the OSMTH (of which the Grand Priory of Italy was a founding member in 1998) was recognized by the UN as an international NGO and member of the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, thus becoming the only international temple organization recognized. The action of OSMTH develops, according to its Statutes, on three fundamental directions: solidarity, culture (essentially historical, with particular reference to the Middle Ages) and training, within the framework of a scenario that puts the Christian ecumenism and, then, equality between men and women and the absolute transparency of the Organization’s acts. On these lines, which coincide with the Statutes of the Grand Priory of Italy, the development of the Grand Priory has gradually given rise to 38 Commands, distributed throughout the national territory. Currently, within the OSMTH the Grand Priory of Italy is the largest European numerical group, with about 40 Commendas and Precepts distributed in Italy and abroad. The phenomenon of foreign jurisdictions granted to Italy contributed to this development. The main countries subject to this jurisdiction were Bulgaria and Croatia, today autonomous Grand Priories. Recently, Spain, Romania, Slovenia, Malta, Holland, South Africa, Moldova, Hungary and Tatarstan have been added to these countries. All these countries adopt the Ritual and the Code (duly translated into their national languages) and the same insignia of the Grand Priory of Italy. In parallel with the establishment of the Grand Priory and its equivalent civil association, the Templar Academy was established for all cultural activities. Until 2011, the Academy carried out intense training activities, with conferences, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, for an average of about thirty cultural events a year. Moreover, with the Templar Academy, 4 masters have been activated on the theme: A thousand years of Templar history, of which 3 in Rome and 1 in Caserta, which have had an encouraging success. Since 2011 the Order’s cultural activities have been conducted in collaboration with the Templar Academy-Templar Academy, an autonomous Social Promotion Association, which to date has carried out an intense cultural and editorial activity. The activity of the Grand Priory is expressed, then, in the field of solidarity, with an average annual flow of interventions of around € 40 / 60,000.00. These interventions were carried out abroad but, above all, in Italy, in relation to the needs envisaged by the various Commendas. 6 – Other templar organizations or self-styled templars From the second post-war period, the Templar proliferation was particularly fertile in Italy, also because the Italian Republic, having abolished all the knightly orders and noble titles, except for some recognized by the State, paradoxically freed its constitution. Although fragmented in multiple rival organizations, the Templar diaspora seems to have a minimum common denominator: that of calling everyone back to the spiritual heritage of the ancient Templar Brothers. There are orders and other similar organizations, which define themselves as congregations, more or less religious or that seek to be considered such, in order to gain credibility with the Catholic Church. The proliferation of Templar associations or self-styled Templars, in Italy, but not only in Italy, is particularly discouraging, although this can be interpreted as a unique form of survival of a Templar ideal, sometimes even sincere, but much more often fraudulent. It is a phenomenon that derives, on the one hand, from the inadequacy of the international situation and from a series of reasons almost always referable to the protagonism and the leaderism of the respective creators. Attempts at union have always been frustrated by personal interests and rivalries, nor has the situation improved immediately after the Second World War. It is the enhancement of nothing, being unable to face more serious problems. Nor, as regards Italy, after Ventura, things went better. The restoration of certain principles and a credible organization, apart from the OSMTH experience, remains a chimera: Templar groups are born (and die) like mushrooms after a summer storm. Everyone sets their ambitions and believes they speak to the world. But the truth is much more modest. In all these groups the tendency, almost obsessive, to obtain any recognition from the Church of Rome is evident, to the point of passing off as such also the availability of a Bishop to recognize a sports association of scout type for a recognition of the Holy See! Also the Grand Priory of Italy has tried several times to establish relations of reciprocal collaboration with the Holy See, underlining the fact of having no interest in canonical recognition or historical or ideological revisions but, rather, in cooperation with the Church , to the extent of available resources, as Christians inspired by a single faith, establishing good neighborly relations. The attitude of the Church, against these demands, has always been elusive. A fortiori, it is that of the Holy See which, as a State, cannot recognize but its own Orders and those legitimized by the other States of the international Community. On the other hand, the Church’s position demands absolute respect, taking into account the fact that the Templar phenomenon is relatively recent and, often, polluted by not always commendable behaviors. Also for these reasons, the silence of the Catholic Church, faced with the recurring desire of the multiple Templar organizations or pseudo-Templars to be noticed and to obtain recognition from the Vatican, is rather eloquent.


From the OSMTH.org’s own Italian page: http://www.osmth.it/storia.html

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