Deeper into Jeopardy! XLIX: The Knights Templar – $800

Jeopardy! category: THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (27-7-2015)

$800 clue: In the 1140s this symbol was added to the Knights’ white mantle as a symbol of Christian martyrdom

Correct response

The gist: The main one, really. If you’re looking for a symbol of Christian martyrdom, you can’t really get more on-the-nose than a cross. The cross as a Christian symbol, of course, represents the implement of torture to which Jesus was nailed as a particularly cruel form of execution, after he was convicted with blasphemy by the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court) for proclaiming himself the son of God, and convicted of unnamed but clearly serious charges by a Roman court under Pilate. In the earliest days of Christianity, however, the cross was not a favoured symbol of the religion, as a symbol of torment and torture that some living Christians may have even witnessed or heard about first-hand. These early Christians favoured symbols like the staurogram, a stylized abbreviation of the Greek for “cross.” By some time in the second century CE, however, the cross was being cited in anti-Christian writings, so whether or not it was being used reverentially by Christians, it was certainly at least associated with them. In the early third century, though, it was a firm enough symbol that the Church Fathers could refer to it euphemistically and be confident their congregation would get the idea.

Today, of course, the Cross is a ubiquitous sight, adorning the steeples of most churches, found inside places of worship, on clothing and jewelry, and more. Many Christian denominations make the Sign of the Cross on themselves as an act of worship. Some denominations, however, do not usually use the Cross as a symbol; the LDS or Mormon Church, for example, claims to preach a gospel of a “living Christ,” and the Cross, a symbol of the death of Christ, is incompatible with that message.

A wax figure in Belgium of a Knight Templar with the red cross on his mantle

A wax figure in Belgium of a Knight Templar with the red cross on his mantle

The clue: I mean, there are other symbols of Christian martyrdom, but in an $800 clue, don’t overthink it – go with the obvious. Plus, the famous image of a white-clad knight with  red cross emblazoned on his chest is not something I think is limited to my once-Medievally-obsessed mind, but I could be wrong about that.

In Jeopardy!: Again, I just can’t analyze all ~3500 mentions of the word “cross” in the J!Archive. I just can’t. I can tell you that this is the only mention of the cross along with the Knights Templar, and there are four that mention it with the Crusades. And that’s all I can give ya. But interesting anyway, I hope.

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