Religion in HBO's Carnivàle

 The Christian military order known as the Knights Templar are mentioned a number of times in Carnivàle. The Knights Templar have been described as “a cleansing union of warrior and monk, violence and faith. They lived by God and zealously died for him.” (‘Firebrands of the Franks’ 100). The Order started when Pope Urban II called for Christians to aid in the liberation of the holy city from the Turks. They lived essentially in poverty but had a strong sense of brotherhood, living the life similar to that of a monk. They were extremely violent in their epic fight for God, frequently uses tactics such as massed charges involving heavy shields and horses. ('Firebrands of the Franks')


The symbol of the Knights Templar appears in Carnivàle as a red cross along with the inscription ‘in hoc signo vinces’ or ‘by this sign we conquer’.

A strong scene involving the Templars takes place during the episode ‘Lonnigan, Texas’. Ben touches a ring with the symbol and has visions of the Knights during rituals and even of the eventual end of the Order in which they were burned at the stake. This same vision occurs a number of times in the series.

"The man, Phineas Boffo, is an old colleague of Samson's and offers his hand. "We freak finders gotta stick together," he says. Angry at being outsmarted, Ben takes his hand, and terrible visions of Crusaders and torture appear. When Ben looks down, he has Boffo's lodge ring in his hand, and he drives off, with the man yelling after him to give the ring back." 'Lonnigan, Texas' (

However, due to the series sudden cancellation and the cliffhanger storylines that resulted, the true importance and story of the Knights Templar in relation to Carnivàle was left almost untold.

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