Templaria Festival

Castignano e i Templari

After the First Crusade, knights led by Hugues de Pe and his comrade in arms Geoffrey De Sentomé decided to found the order of the “Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon ” which became, in short, a powerful Western Christian Military order. They Drew inspiration from the Cistercian order and were supported by the most representative figure of their time in the European culture; the preacher and theologian Bernard of Chiaravalle. Of the three monastic vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, the Templar Order a fourth vow: to protect pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages, Castignano was a key point of transit, located near the Via Salaria, one of the most important consular roads leading out of Rome. According to tradition, the Templars were vigilant guardians of the streets of the villages. It is for this reason that the knights had a duty to keep watch of all the pilgrims on their way from Rome to ports of embarkation for the Holy Land and the Near East.

Three are testimonies that bind the name of Castignano to that of the noble knights: Via de Templari, once the countryside’s most important transit route connecting the countryside to the town square, a place of excellence for exchange among foreign merchants and local traders. The Church of Santa Maria del Borgo, administered by the Benedictine monks of Farfa since the 11th century, which, on the main facade, bears symbols of the ancient Templars. These symbols and the presence of a hospital attached to the Church (a shelter for pilgrims and travelers) do not exclude the possibility that the Church was temporarily administered by the Templars before the Benedictine management. Contemporary historical documents testify that the Church would pay a contribution of tithes every year, a privilege tax for the Pope, directly to the Order of the Temple.

Historically the valley of Piceno was one of the most important centers of the Templar Knights at the time of the Crusades and attended Castignano in their journeys to Jerusalem, leaving tangible evidence in the history, economy and tradition of the country. The Pro Loco Castignano (Castignano Volunteers) refuse to lose this memory and in their continued pursuit to clarify the thread that binds Castignano to the Knights Templar, they could no longer put off the issue. Every year thousands of onlookers come to the Festival and it continues to grow. The historical evidence and historiography of the actual Templar presence in Castignano was released in the book entitled “CASTIGNANO AND THE TEMPLARS”, reprinted in 2011 by the Capponi Publishers. The book was originally published in 1990, which was also the year of the first Templaria Festival. The book includes results of historical investigation by Prof. Jerome Patrignani and shows the link between Castignano and the Order of the Templars. The work is structured in the context of Templar, an art-historical event entirely dedicated to the exploits of the Knights Templar.

The main purpose of the Festival is to raise awareness, through the representation of the myth of the Templars, the history, the habits and the customs of medieval civilization Piceno, enhancing the local cultural heritage and development of the territory. The Templar Festival has an appreciation that goes far beyond the region for its originality, the level of training and philosophy, the beauty of the location, and the ability to teach through wholesome entertainment. Each year the Festival generates thousands of visitors from all over Italy and much of central Europe interested in, as well as the event itself, the beauty that Castignano is able to offer having kept almost unaltered characteristics of the medieval village. the artistic heritage of the province is substantial, including the crypt of the Addolorata, with paintings by Carlo Crivelli and Vincenzo Pagani (15th – 16th century); the monumental church of St. Peter, with the 14th century frescoes of the Last Judgement and with the precious relic of the True Cross, donated to Castignano in 1289 by Pope Nicholas IV, plus the Museum of Russian Icons, the only one of its kind in central Italy, with relics dating from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
During its first twenty years of life, the event has managed to grow in the level of the training, thanks to the efforts of the community of Castignano and the support of local authorities, which have sponsored, over time, a number of growth initiatives of the area.
Among the most appreciated advances, in 2008, the important work “Processus Contra Templarios”, (published in a limited edition from the Secret Vatican) was bought and it faithfully reproduces the minutes of the interrogation which the Templars were subjected to the Templars’ Roman Inquisition before the order was disbanded, in 1314. Included are the full transcripts of the proceedings of the trial, together, for the first time, a critical apparatus and enhanced by reprinting the seals in red wax of the Cardinal inquisitors. This document shed new light on the complex history and controversial process that brought an end to the Order of the Temple, rehabilitating, in part, the figure of the pope and his position in relation to the knights. This is a very prestigious publication, of which there are only 799 copies around the world. The work is visible to the public during the days of the Festival, with a secure enclosure.

In 2009, the theater school Middle Tempora was born in Castignano. It focuses on the techniques of medieval acting and diction and also inaugurated a series named francobollata, limited edition, with special red effigies of knights-crusaders. In 2010 the Templaria Festival was noticed by a documentary professional. With official images of the event, it circuited throughout Italy, gaining critical success and a great appreciation from the public. Following the success, a Knight Templar suit of armor was purchased and is displayed permanently inside the event. It was handmade by Piceni artisans according to medieval tradition of history and made up according to original models of the time. Initiatives have allowed Templaria to obtain the patronage of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture and appreciation in 2010, with an autographed letter by Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic, as well as re-confirming, for the third consecutive year, the presence of well-known television presenter, Robert Jacob, as the cultural director of the Festival, from 2009-2011. The Templaria Festival also obtained the patronage of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in 2011.