The Order of DeMolay takes its name from Jacques DeMolay, who gave his life rather than betray his friends. His example of friendship and devotion is the primary lesson of the organization for all of its members. DeMolay (1244-1314 A.D.) was the last Grand Master of the historic Order of the Temple. These knights, known as Templars, were a band of men who were both knights and monks, and who protected pilgrims on their travel to and from the Holy Lands.
The Templars were both wealthy and influential. The French King, Philip the Fourth, was envious of the Templars and wanted their wealth. He trumped up charges of sacrilege, or heresy against the church, and ordered the arrest of all Templars in France.
Through Philip’s influence over Pope Clement the Fifth, the persecution of the Templars extended through much of Europe, effectively destroying the Order. Jacques DeMolay and other officers were jailed and tortured for more than seven years. They repeatedly refused to turn over the Templars’ wealth or to reveal the names of Templars who had managed to escape arrest.
It was common to torture prisoners until they confessed to whatever charges were made against them, and DeMolay reportedly made such a tortured confession. However, he later publicly denied the confession. In those days, “recanting” a confession was punishable by death, and so, on March 18, 1314, DeMolay and one of his principal officers were burned at the stake near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Because he was true to his brethren, even at extreme personal cost, our founding members selected DeMolay as the namesake for our Order in 1919. Although the Templars identified with the (Catholic) Christian faith, the Order of DeMolay is open to young men of all religious faiths. DeMolays are taught to imitate the courage and character of DeMolay, not necessarily his specific beliefs and faith.