The screams of anguish from heretics no longer filled the dungeon and their rusty chains hung limp from hooks embedded in the stonewalls. A small group of hooded men gathered around a single charcoal brazier, their faces illuminated by the flames of torches. It was 1835 and Geronimo, bishop of Tarazona, the last of a long line of fifty-six Inquisitor-Generals, was dying. With him, the Holy Inquisition in Spain would also officially end.
“Welcome brothers,” said chief aldaide Monserrat Pastor of the Barcelona inquisition. “As members of the Hermandad each of you has served the holy Catholic faith and the Holy Inquisition well, and through your efforts thousands of heretics and blasphemers have confessed and have received justice.
At your hands these tools of the Inquisition,” as he gestured at the devices around him in the torture chamber, “ the rack and the wheel, thumbscrews and the iron maiden, have routed out those who would destroy our faith and guided them as they discharged their consciences and saved their souls. Your skills and dedication to your craft in applying the three grades of torture – the cord, the water, and the fire – have helped fill the ranks of the Auto-da-fe, sending sinners to their ultimate reward. You have done your jobs well and the Holy Office is proud of you all!”
“For more than a thousand years the Holy Inquisition has served our faith well,” he continued. “All that will come to an end very soon, and I have called you all here to prepare for what lies ahead of us. As you know, The Holy Father has seen fit to conclude our efforts and confiscate the property of the Inquisition and apply it to the public debt. We will, of course, obey, but it is important that the skills you have honed on the flesh of countless heretics here in this chamber not be lost to future generations.”
“When you first joined the Holy Inquisition you raised your hands and pledged your bodies and eternal souls to this blood oath:”
“Should you have failed in carrying out this oath faithfully you all know what the consequences were. On the second stage of your journey to affirm your faithfulness as a familiar you were inducted into the Hermandad, the religious confraternity of the Holy Inquisition. In an elaborate ceremony you took an oath to peril your life in executing the commands of the Holy Office and to denounce all heretics. As members of the Hermandad you became in effect the body of the Autos-da-fe, without which the Inquisition would have been unable to impress its power on the people so effectively.”
“Brothers, do you now reaffirm these two oaths that you have taken?” asked aldaide Pastor.
“Yes, we do, with all our hearts and pledging our eternal souls,” shouted the brothers as one voice.
“Then I have good news for you, my brothers,” Pastor said. “King Fernando VII has decreed that the Hermandad shall survive the Inquisition, and I have been instructed to take secret measures to insure that it does.”
The Maniple Humanus Somes is formed
“The times ahead of us are dark, and I cannot tell you how long you must walk in darkness. You will be hunted down like rabid dogs and your names will be defiled, but know you all that you serve a greater and higher good”
“Each of you are masters of your trade and carry within you the skills to manipulate the human body to bring forth white-hot daggers of pain in your subjects. You have shown that you are masters at using this pain to extract the truth and change the very behavior of these poor unfortunate and deluded souls. It is vitally important that the skills you have developed live on, until that day when they are seen by all as respectable and necessary for the well-being of mankind!”
“Brothers, hear me well!” Pastor said. “I am asking you to leave these familiar surroundings and your colleagues who have supported and nurtured your work, and disperse like seeds upon the wind to the four corners of the world. Each of you will be a disciple of your craft, seeking out patrons who will appreciate and help preserve the work we have done here. Are you willing to embark on this dangerous and difficult quest to preserve our art?” he asked.
There was a murmur of assent, although many of the gathered brothers had no true appreciation of what lay before them.
Pastor nodded, and said “Thank you, my brothers. Our time is short. I regret that I cannot invest you in your duties in the same grand manner as the ceremony upon which you joined the Hermandad. Please lower your cowls and place your left hand on mine. Raise your right hands and join me in pledging yourselves to a new secret brotherhood, which goes far beyond the Hermandad. You are about to become members of Maniple Humanus Somes, an order whose aim and purpose is to foster and protect the skills with which the members of the order can manipulate the human body.”
As one, the assembled brothers bared their heads and raised their hands, repeating this most holy oath:
“Thank you my brothers,” said Pastor. “From this day forward, you will go your separate ways. You will keep your past as integral members of the Holy Inquisition a secret, lest our enemies seek you out and eliminate you. You can count on support only from other members of our new order, and you will know your brethren by this secret handshake.”
He demonstrated a handshake with each of the brothers by which they could know one another. (Unfortunately the details of this handshake have been lost over the ages.)
Pastor then gave each of the brothers a signet ring with the seal of the order and a packet of instructions for the journeys that each of them must now take into the world.
“You are empowered to set up schools and centers of learning, and to seek out opportunities where our skills will be appreciated and wealthy, influential patrons that you may serve. Never falter that there will always be a need for our skills. Take upon you apprentices to further spread the word of our brotherhood.”
“Go now,” he said. “You all have my blessings that the skills we have perfected here as part of the Holy Inquisition will continue to be useful and will not be lost to the knowledge of men. God speed!”
The skills spread
From this small band of brothers, and others like it that were formed in the last days of the Holy Inquisition, the skills developed were not lost. The skills were spread throughout the civilized world by the brothers and were practiced, sometimes in the name of God and sometimes to further political or ethnic credos. Over the years the basic three grades of torture – the cord, the water, and the fire, developed a whole new cadre of practitioners for whom the Holy Inquisition was only a dim memory.
Legend says that a brother found his way to Russia where he found in the Tsar’s secret police a willing outlet for his skills. In later years the KGB of Stalin’s Russia as well as the German Gestapo were eager clients. There were any number of small dictatorships in South America who sponsored and promoted the skills of the Maniple Humanus Somes brethren to extract the truth from recalcitrant witnesses and used pain to help change their behavior. The French and then the North Vietnamese practiced many of the rope and cord methods on their prisoners of war. There are those that contend that the skills of the Maniple Humanus Somes are still being used today in some of the “dark prisons” used to fight the war on terrorism, but true to the secret nature of the society these are only rumours.
The Healing Side of Maniple Humanus Somes
As often happens over time, there were practitioners of the Maniple Humanus Somes who forgot about their true origins, rejecting the “dark” side and embracing only the healing and curative aspects of their skills.
They claimed that their craft came from early physicians like Hippocrates and Hector who developed a primitive form of therapy to help relieve suffering. These early physicians advocated massage and hydrotherapy, and did so as early as 460 B.C. They adopted “physical therapy” as the name for their art.
Later, in 1894, four nurses in Great Britain formed the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy as a health care profession that provided services to individuals to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout life. It is not surprising that they used many of the same skills and similar tools as the Maniple Humanus Somes had developed through the use of the rack and the wheel.
Physical Therapy today
No longer do “physical therapists” wear cloaks and hoods. Most today would not recognize the secret oath or signet ring from their order. The classic instruments of pain from torture-chambers (e.g. - the rack, wheel, thumbscrews) are more likely to be found in museums, but their more modern instruments are still actively used today. For example, the racks used to bend and stretch the bodies of their patients are now motorized.
Therapists work out of "physical therapy clinics", in our hospitals, or they will come to your home to cause you pain. The results are the same. They manipulate the human body in unnatural positions that bring forth white-hot daggers of pain in their patients– agony and screams, pain and torture. They are intent on convincing their patients to change their behavior and do things that their body is telling them not to do.
Their thousand-year-old skills are still in widespread use around the world. The Holy Inquisition is gone, but remember that those that practice the skills are still active and among us. Beware! ---------------------------------------
Note - the names and dates in this story are all documented in history except one. While King Fernando VII did decree that the Hermandad should survive the Inquisition, and the skills of the Inquisition to induce victims to confess their sins have survived long after the end of the Inquisition, to this very day, it is not surprising that documentation to support the formation or even the existence of the Maniple Humanus Somes or its oath is lacking. The organization could well exist, however, based on evidence of continuing wide-spread use over history of their techniques.