It's not the Holy Grail, but for fans of The Da Vinci Code and its tantalizing story line about the Knights Templar, it could be the next best thing.
Ignored for centuries and found in the Vatican secret archives in 2001, a parchment about the early 14th-century heresy trial of the ancient Christian order is the basis of a limited-edition volume being published with a US$8,375 pricetag.
According to the Vatican archives Web site, the parchment shows that pope Clement V initially absolved the Templar leaders of heresy, though he did find them guilty of immorality, and planned to reform the order.
But pressured by French king Philip IV (Philip the Fair), Clement later reversed his decision and suppressed the order in 1312.
Only 799 copies of the 300-page volume Processus Contra Templarios (Latin for Trial against the Templars) are for sale, Scrinium publishing house, which prints documents from the Vatican's secret archives, said on Friday.
An 800th copy would go to Pope Benedict XVI.
The order of knights recently captivated the imagination of readers of the best-seller The Da Vinci Code, which linked the Templars to the story of the Holy Grail.
The Vatican work reproduces the entire documentation of the papal hearings convened after Philip arrested and tortured Templar leaders in 1307 on charges of heresy and immorality.
The military order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims after the First Crusade.
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