Before discussing the crucial statement, let’s review just a very brief aspect of the Templars. Their full name is the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. The organization was founded during the early Crusades in the 12th century. Their short name, the Templars, was derived from the fact that in 1104 CE while under the leadership of Hughes, Count of Champagne, they were given part of the former Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem as their headquarters. While living in what now constitutes the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Templars are believed to have spent ten years digging under the Temple Mount.
Mr. Byrne asserts that Captain Wilson, Lieutenant Warren and a team of Royal Engineers uncovered evidence to back the idea of Templar digging. In 1867, they re-excavated the area and uncovered tunnels extending vertically from the Al Aqsa mosque, down to about 25 meters before fanning out under the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Supposedly, Crusader artifacts are found in these tunnels.
The Templars of old were - after a long and torturous relationship with the Vatican - eventually slaughtered and/or disbanded, but passed their torch to the Masons of today. Mr. Bryrne states that, “The earliest written copies of Masonic ritual state unequivocally that the ancient Masons found the Ark of the Covenant hidden in a cave under the site of King Solomon's temple.” Then he quotes Templars as have having issued the following statement:
In pursuance of your orders, we repaired to the secret vault, and let down one of the companions as before. The sun at this time was at its meridian height, the rays of which enabled him to discover a small box, or chest, standing on a pedestal, curiously wrought, and overlaid with gold: he gave the signal of ascending, and was immediately drawn out. We have brought the ark up, for the examination of the grand council.”
What is important is the significance being placed on the sun’s altitude, which was at meridian height. If the Ark was located in Syene, Egypt, then the story might make sense. For in Syene, as Eratosthenes was aware when he first measured the circumference of the Earth, the sun is directly overhead at local apparent noon on the summer solstice. Rays from the sun there do indeed go straight down a vertical shaft and they would certainly shine powerfully off the surface of a golden Ark. However, Temple Mount is at 31 degrees 46 minutes 39.72 seconds North. The vertical rays of the sun never go north of the Tropic of Cancer that is located at 23 degrees 27 minutes North. As a result, the sun never gets higher than 81 degrees 40 minutes 20.28 seconds above the horizon at the Temple Mount. This is 8 degrees 19 minutes 39.72 seconds short of being directly overhead. On the winter solstice the sun’s maximum height at the same location is only 34 degrees 56 minutes 20.28 seconds above the horizon.
Now, let’s assume the sun was at this maximum summer angular altitude at precisely the moment that the Knights were looking down a 25-meter hole. If the hole were one meter wide (big enough for a man to fit through) then the direct sunlight would only penetrate about 6.85 meters, which is nowhere near the 25- meter depth found by the Royal Engineers. If it were two meters wide, then the sun might penetrate to about 13.7 meters, still short of the floor of any room at 25 meters that might hold the Ark. For a sliver of the sun to reach the bottom, the hole would have to be about 3.647 meters wide (11.965 feet). And of course, this huge hole would have to be dug precisely in the right spot. Yet even today the rabbis argue about the precise location of the Holy of Holies and Temple on the surface of the Temple Mount.
Of course, it is true that the Royal Engineers supposedly uncovered not just one tunnel, but tunnels (exact amount unspecified). This would seem to argue for holes that are smaller in size, i.e., not wide enough for the sun to penetrate 25 meters. Therefore, as the Temple Mount was not destroyed by these tunnels (which multiple huge holes would in fact do), we can conclude that any tale of the sun’s rays shining off a golden Ark down 25 meters is likely to be a hoax. If this is so, there is no reason to go further in the study of the Templars to explore where (including to the Vatican) that the Ark might have gone as a result of such tunneling activity.
J. R. Church published THE ARK OF THE COVENANT - WE HAVE FOUND 17: Prophecy Publications, 1993, pp. 13-15. In it, he says the Ark is underground at the Vatican. From the 7th century, there is a record that allegedly shows Pope Vitalian (CE 657) had the Ark and the two stone tablets. Church met a Benedictine monk who claimed to have seen it in the vaults of the Vatican, thirty miles east of Rome. The tale goes that four stories down was the Ark, golden articles and old drapes from the tabernacle. But with no evidence that the Ark was in the Temple when Rome conquered Israel, and with the Knights Templar excavations discredited, there is no means apparent for the Vatican to have acquired the Ark. If they have it, why not produce it?