The Significance & Context of Apostolic Succession
Official heraldic Pontifical seal of the 12th century Ancient Catholic Church, of the Templar Ancient Priesthood of Solomon, carrying the 1st century denomination of Orthodox Catholicism
Carrying the original 1st century denomination of Orthodox Catholicism, the 12th century Ancient Catholic Church incorporates and embodies the venerable tradition of Apostolic Succession: The canonical practice of maintaining documented lines of Episcopal succession is not for any so-called “hierarchy” or “control”, as superficially misperceived in modern times. Rather, it is a classical framework for providing and supporting doctrinal authenticity and continuity of the original spiritual mission of the early Church.
The Ancient Catholic Church respects, recognizes and supports the religious validity of many Christian denominations which do not require direct or strict Apostolic Succession (e.g. Protestant, Pentecostal, Calvinist, Lutheran, Gnostic, Celtic, and Anglican). Nevertheless, the Church also accepts its own responsibility as Orthodox Catholic to maintain this tradition, as established by Apostolic scripture in the New Testament (Romans 10:15; John 20:21; Matthew 28:18) .
According to the Holy Tradition and Canons of the Catholic Church, Apostolic Succession is “the mark” of being “recognized as identical with the Church founded Jesus Christ upon the Apostles as the true Church of Christ. This One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church contains three marks, namely: Unity, Sanctity, and Catholicity.”
Apostolic Succession “means that the Church is one moral body, possessing the mission entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostles, and transmitted through them and their lawful successors in an unbroken chain to the present representatives of Christ upon earth. … It consists in the legitimate transmission of the ministerial power conferred by Christ upon His Apostles. No one can give a power which he does not possess.” . For these reasons, it is customary for classical Churches to maintain detailed records of Apostolic Succession, sometimes called “Succession Books”.
These ecclesiastical documents are traditionally given to all new Bishops with their consecration, allowing them to demonstrate their valid Episcopal lineage. (This is strictly practiced in the Old Catholic, Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations.)
The Ancient Catholic Church possesses many of its own lines of direct priestly succession, both from the Apostles, and from the most ancient sources as the earliest foundations of the Priesthood of Jesus and the Apostles. These sources of lineage are documented in the historical record as a continuation through successive Priesthoods since the beginning of recorded history. However, due to this rare degree of extreme antiquity, specific documentation of the lineage through each and every successive individual personality was not possible to preserve.
To perfect and canonize its own most ancient lineages, the Ancient Catholic Church has incorporated, recognized, and exhaustively documented canonical lines of Apostolic Succession, all of which passed through the Pope of Alexandria.
“Templar Lines” of Classical Apostolic Succession
The Ancient Catholic Church, as preserved and restored by the 12th century Order of the Temple of Solomon from the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon, carries seven primary sources of classical Apostolic Succession from ca. 33 AD. These constitute the original and legendary “Templar Lines” of Apostolic Succession, which were later restored to canonical status in the Vatican by Pope Benedict XIV from 1726-1740 AD:
(1) Nazarene Essene Priesthood of Jesus from ca. 33 AD;
(2) Saint Mark the Apostle;
(3) Saint Thomas the Apostle;
(4) Saint Mary Magdalene the Disciple (and Gnostic Apostle) of Jesus;
(5) Saint Thecla the Disciple (and Gnostic Apostle) of the Apostle Peter;
(6) Gnostic Essene Priesthood ca. 250 BC of the Cathars from 1054 AD; and
(7) Saint Bernard de Clairvaux the Patron Saint of the Knights Templar from 1129 AD.
These lineages of classical Apostolic Succession, transmitted by canonical “laying on of hands”, are supported by an additional seven sources of priestly Magistral Succession of the Magi Priesthood of Melchizedek, as the most ancient Biblical pre-Christian origins of the denomination of Ancient Catholicism.
Jesus the Nazarene Essene taught that Episcopal consecration can be “through the Holy Spirit” alone, without any human intermediary (Acts 1:2, 1:5, 1:8, 2:2-4, 20:28; I Peter 2:25; II Corinthians 1:21-22) , as was often recognized in the Ancient Priesthoods and by the Essenes.
Jesus also taught the Apostles that consecration by the Holy Spirit alone needs to be perfected only by Doctrinal Succession, consisting of following the original ancient doctrines as taught and practiced by Jesus himself (Acts 2:38-42; I Timothy 4:16; II Timothy 2:2; I Corinthians 11:2; I Timothy 1:3-4; John 7:16-17) .
A canonical precedent that the Ancient Priesthood lineages, in particular those directly connected with Knights Templar heritage, actually become are vested in the Pontificate as an institution. This precedent confirms that such lines do effectively pass by Doctrinal Succession, when vested in the Pontifical authority of a relevant classical denomination.
One especially prized “Melchizedek Ancient Orthodox Catholic Pontifical Line of 38 AD” was continued by direct succession from the Apostle Saint Simon-Peter through an extensive lineage of Popes, including all those who actively supported the Templar Order and the Independent Church Movement: Pope Honorius II in 1124 AD, Pope Innocent II in 1130 AD, Pope Celestine II in 1143 AD, the Cistercian Pope Eugenius III in 1145 AD, Pope Urban IV in 1261 AD, Pope Clement V in 1305 AD, Pope John XXII in 1316 AD, Pope Leo X in 1513 AD.
In 1655 AD, this Orthodox Catholic “Melchizedek Line” was passed to Cardinal Antonio Barberini (the nephew of Pope Urban VIII), who was consecrated by Papal order of Pope Alexander VII, which was actually performed by the Bishops Scanarello, Bottini and Govotti. Thus, the laying on of hands was performed, although not directly by the lineal predecessor. As a result, the lineage was effectively continued based upon the line being canonically vested in the Pontificate as an institution, by means of initiatory and doctrinal continuation of the tradition which characterizes that line.
This landmark precedent also establishes the means by which a priestly line is canonically “vested” in a Pontificate – by passing through several Popes of the Holy See as a historical institution. This is analogous to passing through multiple Pontiffs of a canonical denomination, or through multiple Grand Masters of the Knights Templar carrying recognized Pontifical authority of the Ancient Priesthood of Solomon since the 12th century.
According to the above scriptures, as supported by canonical precedent, all 14 sources of the “Templar Lines” of Episcopal and priestly authority constitute direct lines of initiatory succession, each additionally perfected by authenticity of Doctrinal Succession. Therefore, they wholly embody the lineal continuation of the Melchizedek, Solomonic and also Apostolic traditions. This establishes a substantial level of ecclesiastical authority, meeting the general standards of the Orthodox Catholic and Orthodox Churches under traditional Canon law for genuine Apostolic Succession.