Rome is days ahead on 700-year-old Knights Templar story

October 15, 2007

In the competitive world of agency news, most Reuters correspondents are more than happy to file a breaking story a few minutes ahead of the competition. Our financial reporters sometimes win a beat of a second or less – and get kudos from their editors because even that can make a difference to clients. When it comes to religion, though, the time frame Parchment of replica document in which Pope Clement V absolved the Knights Templar of heresycan stretch out to eternity. Disputes that are centuries, even millennia old still influence things today.

Our veteran Vatican specialist Phil Pullella juggled these two approaches when he filed an exclusive story on a 700-year-old mystery several days before his rivals. Thanks to his excellent contacts there, Phil got the first look at a soon-to-be-published set of reproductions of documents from the trials against the legendary Knights Templar Christian military order from the era of the Crusades.

The lavish leather-cased set, which will cost 5,900 euros ($8,333) apiece, is not due to be presented to the public until October 25. Its faithfully reproduced documents show that the Templars, whose rise and fall have inspired writers for centuries right down to The Da Vinci Code, were absolved of the charges of heresy that led many members to be burned at the stake. Read the full story here.

“This set altogether weighs about 40 pounds,” Phil said. “My contact had to lug it around in a suitcase on wheels. The pages are reproduced just as they are in the Vatican Secret Archives, right down to stains on the pages and threads that sewed the parchments together.”

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