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Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th! Today is a day that is observed with a certain degree of caution by some. What would you be looking out for? Will a black cat cross your path? Will you walk under a ladder? Will you break a mirror? Some may say that this is superstitious nonsense. History, however, has another take on it.

The origins of Friday the 13th come from antiquity. It all started with the first Crusade, which took place between 1096 – 1099 under the auspices of Pope Urban II and the Roman Catholic Church. The objective of the endeavour was the recovery of the Holy land from Islamic rule. His call was taken up by many Christian kingdoms across Europe and was characterised by an enthusiastic popular response across all social classes.

Following the successes of the first Crusade, a number of Crusader states were formed in the Holy Land, leading to an influx of pilgrims from Western Europe to travel to the sacred sites of Christendom.

Many pilgrims were either killed by banditry, or whilst crossing through hostile Muslim controlled territory. This led to the founding of a military order called the Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon in 1118 by Hugues de Payens, along with relatives and brothers in arms, with the sole purpose of protecting travellers on their pilgrimage.

The Knights Templar swore an oath of poverty, chastity, obedience, and were expected to honour the fasts and vigils of the monastic calendar just as the Cistercians and other monks.