The Order of the Solar Temple (OTS) was a cult and religious sect that claimed to be based upon the ideals of the Knights Templar. OTS was founded by Joseph di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva, as l’Ordre International Chevaleresque de Tradition Solaire (OICTS), and later it was renamed Ordre du Temple Solaire. It is associated with a series of murders and mass suicides that claimed several dozen lives in France, Switzerland, and Canada in 1994 and 1995.
Some historians allege that the Solar Temple was founded by the French author Jacques Breyer, who established a Sovereign Order of the Solar Temple in 1952. In 1968, a schismatic order was renamed the Renewed Order of the Solar Temple (ROTS) under the leadership of the French right-wing political activist Julien Origas.
The OTS was a millenarian cult that believed that the world was coming to an end and that they were the chosen ones who would be saved. They also believed in reincarnation and that they would be reborn into a new world after the apocalypse.
The OTS was a very secretive organization and little is known about its inner workings. However, it is believed that the group was led by a council of elders and that Jouret and di Mambro were the most important figures in the group.
The OTS was a very wealthy organization and its members were drawn from the upper middle class. The group owned several properties in Switzerland, France, and Canada, and it is believed that they had a large following in South America as well.
The OTS first came to public attention in 1994 when the bodies of 53 people were found in a chalet in Morin Heights, Quebec. The victims had been shot and then set on fire. The following day, the bodies of 23 people were found in a farmhouse in Granges-sur-Salvan, Switzerland. The victims had also been shot and then set on fire.
The OTS was responsible for a total of 74 deaths in 1994 and 1995. The group’s final act of violence took place in October 1997, when 35 people were found dead in a chalet in Cheiry, Switzerland. The victims had been shot and then suffocated with gas.
The OTS’s motives for the murders and suicides are still not fully understood. However, it is believed that the group was motivated by a combination of factors, including their belief in the impending apocalypse, their desire to escape the world, and their fear of persecution.
The OTS’s murders and suicides shocked the world and led to a great deal of speculation about the group and its motives. The group’s complex beliefs and its secretive nature made it difficult to understand, and the OTS remains a source of fascination and controversy to this day.
- Introvigne, Massimo. “Order of the Solar Temple.” In Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements, edited by J. Gordon Melton, 695-699. Second edition. Leiden: Brill, 2004.
- Mayer, Jean-François. “The Order of the Solar Temple: A History.” In The Order of the Solar Temple: The Temple of Death, edited by James R. Lewis, 1-24. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.
- Palmer, Susan J. “The Solar Temple: A Case Study of a Millenarian New Religious Movement.” In Millennialism and Violence, edited by Michael Barkun, 163-189. London: Frank Cass, 1996.
- Saliba, John A. “The Order of the Solar Temple: A Millenarian Movement in the 1990s.” In Perspectives on the New Age, edited by James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton, 239-256. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.