This Masonic legend, mostly told in the Swedish Rite lodges, is a curious variation of stories surrounding the final days of Jacques de Molay. The core of the legend is found in the so-called Strasbourg Manuscript, dating around 1760. The document is in French, although there are some indications that this was not the author’s native tongue. Carl Friedrich Eckleff (1723-1786), the originator of the Swedish Rite, is most likely connected to this document in some way. The manuscript is somewhat oddly entitled Deuxième Section, de la Maçonnerie parmi les Chrétiens (“Section 2, Masonry among the Christians”) and I will probably publish it as a curiosity at a later point. There are some additional later details for which I am mostly following Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei, by C. Lenning.
When Jacques de Molay became certain that his days were numbered, he arranged for his nephew, one count de Beaujeu, to visit him in prison. The Grandmaster had previously noted this young man as someone who could be trusted with the task of keeping the Order of the Knights Templar alive. De Molay instructed his nephew to go down to the crypt in which prior grandmasters of the Order were buried. There, underneath one of the coffins, de Beaujeu was to find a crystal box encased in silver and bring it back to the Grandmaster. The young man followed these directions and returned with the crystal box. De Molay was well pleased with his nephew’s loyalty and made him swear an oath, promising to do whatever it takes to preserve the Order until the day of the Last Judgement. It also turned out that the crystal box that had been retrieved from the crypt contained a precious relic, once given to the Knights Templar by King Baldwin of Jerusalem — the right index finger of John the Baptist. [click to continue…]