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On your journey through the three degrees of Symbolic Masonry and as you have learned the proficiency lecture for each degree, no doubt many questions have arisen concerning the meaning of the ritualistic ceremonies, the historical implications and the ‘why’ of the legends of Freemasonry. Although many erudite brethren have delved into the history and mysteries of Freemasonry no one has as yet determined the exact time the fraternity originated or where it first came into being.

The York Rite believes that the Sublime Degree of Master Mason to be the ultimate degree of Freemasonry, and that all others are added and explanatory. Most students of Freemasonry agree that the story of the Craft as presented in the three degrees is incomplete, and that the degrees offered in the York Rite of Freemasonry complete the story and answer many of the questions in the mind of the newly made Master Mason.

The York Rite is one of the appendant bodies of Freemasonry in which a Master Mason may proceed to supplement and amplify the Blue Lodge degrees, affording historical background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry. The York Rite takes its name from the old English city of York. It is said that Athelstan, A British king, was converted to Christianity in York and that he granted the original charter to the Masonic guilds in that city nearly a thousand years ago.

The York Rite is not a religion in itself, it does, however, develop themes based on the Medieval Crusades. 

The degrees of the York Rite are classified as Capitular (Chapter of Royal Arch Masons), Cryptic (Council of Cryptic Masons), and Chivalric (Commandery of Knights Templar) and they are broken further as follows:

Chapter of Royal Arch Masons
  • The Mark Master Degree
  • The Past Master Degree
  • The Most Excellent Master Degree
  • Royal Arch Degree
Council of Royal and Select Masters
  • The Royal Master Degree
  • The Select Master Degree
  • The Super Excellent Master Degree
Commandery of Knights Templar
  • Order of Red Cross
  • Order of Malta
  • Order of the Temple

In none of these degrees are any memorization required to advance from one degree to another. 

There are many easily learned parts that any interested Mason may acquire and participate in the conferring of the work. In the York Rite, most of the work is by a cast of characters made up to portray more vividly the message and the cast is robed to add to the impressiveness of the lessons.


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Founded in 1797, in Boston, Massachusetts, as a national organization, the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, International now has jurisdiction over half the 7,000 Chapters in the world, including several provinces in Canada, the Grand Chapters of USA, Philippines, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and many chapters in Central and South America. Upon your exaltation as a Royal Arch Mason you will become a member of the oldest and largest rite of Royal Arch Masonry. 

No Rite of Freemasonry covers the world so much as does Royal Arch Masonry. In every country of the earth, on every continent and on many isles of the sea, Will be found Royal Arch Chapters, eager and willing to receive their companions from other parts of the world into that full fellowship that characterizes Royal Arch Masonry. 

In Royal Arch Masonry is found the essentials of symbolism and philosophy necessary for a Master Mason to understand that which he has received only in part. 

Probably there is no other Masonic order more closely associated with the symbolic or Mother Lodge than the Capitular Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. In fact, the fourth and final Degree of the present Capitular Degrees as conferred in the Chapters, that of Royal Arch Mason, was formerly a Degree of the Lodge for which only actual Past Masters were eligible. This Degree was taken from the Lodge system as practiced in the Old World from which it originated when the first Chapters were organized in the early 18th Century in our country. On the union of the Grand Lodges in 1813, a part of the compact of union read, "Ancient Craft Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason including the Holy Royal Arch."

This Degree along with the Mark Master's Degree and two others comprise Capitular Masonry as it exists in our modern day. Some of the lessons taught in the philosophy of the symbolic or "Blue Lodge" can be better understood and appreciated if experienced with the supplementary information involving the Ancient Craft Masonry of the Old Testament Era of the Bible, as portrayed in both the Capitular Degrees of the Royal Arch Chapter and the Cryptic Degrees of the Council of Royal and Select Masters. 

Upon your exaltation as a Royal Arch Mason you will become a member of the oldest and largest rite of Freemasonry.  The value of Royal Arch Masonry will be appreciated by all who are exalted to that most sublime degree, particularly by those who are seeking to complete their Masonic education. It reveals the full light of Ancient Craft Masonry, presents it as a complete system in accordance with the original plan and justly entitles you to claim the noble name of Master Mason.

On a national level, Royal Arch Masons support a project or philanthropy known as Royal Arch Research Assistance, and abbreviated "RARA". The purpose of this research is to determine the reason that some individuals, particularly children, experience learning difficulties through a disorder of the inner ear, which does not properly transmit sounds to the brain so that it may correctly interpret them. The resulting conflict in hearing by children who experience this disorder leads to both learning and behavioral difficulties. Progress is being made through research, but it is a complex process requiring much research before perfecting a complete cure. 

The Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry consists of four degrees, Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason.


This is the first of the four degrees in the Chapter, and in it, the candidate is still symbolically laboring on an unfinished temple, he is taught the nobility of labor and that in the erection of his moral and spiritual temple he must determine and prepare the materials of which that temple is to be constructed and to have due care that in so doing the work which he shall present, bearing his mark, shall be such as to designate him as one worthy of admission to “that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

This degree also teaches us to discharge our several duties punctually and with precision, the duty of assisting a distressed brother is forcibly illustrated. Historically the degree illustrates the process by which the work on the temple accomplished by each craftsman was identified.

The Mark Master Degree is believed to have originated as a ceremony of registering a craftsman's mark in those years distinguished by operative craft masons and their temple building. It was later developed into a full-fledged degree by the Masonic fraternity as we know it today.  Some scholars say it was the earliest degree and may predate all others by many years. It is highly regarded by students in all Masonry, teaching lessons that have proven of value in all walks of life. Some Grand Lodges place so high an eminence on the Mark Master Degree, that they confine it to the jurisdiction of a separate grand body, the Grand Lodge of Mark Masters. 


The Past Master Degree came into being because originally the degree of Royal Arch was conferred only on actual Past Masters of a Symbolic (Blue) Lodge. This restriction prevented many worthy brethren from receiving the full information of the degrees of Freemasonry. Eventually’ it was conferred upon all candidates for the Royal Arch Degree. The brother receiving it in that manner is a Virtual, not an Actual, Past Master; that is, the conferring of this degree by a Chapter gives a brother no rights as a Past Master in a Symbolic Lodge unless he has actually served as Master of his Lodge.

The degree of Past Master was instituted in order to conform to tradition and to make it possible for worthy brethren to receive the Royal Arch degree.  It teaches that he who would rule others must first learn to rule himself.  The first record of its conferral is found in 1768 in England. 


The Most Excellent Master Degree is a product of American innovation. It was conferred in a Royal Arch Chapter as early as 1783 in Middletown, Conn. It is by far the most spectacular degree in all Freemasonry. It is the only degree that brings forcibly to our attention the completion and dedication of King Solomon's Temple.

It recites or dramatizes the historical incidents or events surrounding the completion and dedication of King Solomon’s Temple. Here the Mason sees for the first time completed the construction of the Temple on which he has symbolically labored in all previous degrees. Symbolically it represents the building of life and character and the reward, which come to him who faithfully performs this task.  Also this degree emphasizes the opportunity and obligation of Companions to disseminate light and knowledge to less informed brethren.


Except the Masters Degree no Masonic Degree is more important in its historical and symbolic significance than this. In some form it appears in every Rite, but only here does its history, its symbolism, its lessons show so vividly its connection with the Master Mason degree and the fact that it is, indeed, the final chapter of that essential degree of Freemasonry. The Royal Arch Degree is the climax or culmination of Ancient Craft Masonry and Masonic Symbolism for here we find that which was lost-the word for which you were given a substitute in the Master Mason degree is imparted to you in solemn and impressive ceremonies. It is described as "the root and marrow of Freemasonry." 

It brings to light that for which the Mason has searched. Its lessons are the essence of Masonic truth. Its ceremonies for the most part are founded upon the return of the Israelites from captivity to rebuild a destroyed temple, and the discoveries they made.  It is the complete story of Jewish History during some of its darkest hours. Events of the objects of the Jewish people were preserved, discovered and restored.  Jerusalem and the Holy temple are destroyed. The people are being held captive as slaves in Babylon. Here you will join with some slaves as they are set free to return home and engage in the noble and glorious work of rebuilding the city and the Temple of God. It is during this rebuilding that they make a discovery that brings to light the greatest treasure of a Mason --the long lost Master's Word.

Many historians have traced the earliest origins of the Royal Arch Degree to Ireland, late in the 17th century and in England in 1738, In 1752, ambulatory or military warrants for Lodges were introduced. This was instrumental in placing the Royal Arch Degree on a par with the Master Mason Degree.

Military lodges were greatly responsible for planting Freemasonry in the Colonies and also gave birth to the use of the Marl and Royal Arch degrees in the "New World." Lodge records show that the Royal Arch Degree was conferred at Fredericksburg No. 4 on December 12, 1753. George Washington was raised in this lodge a few months prior to this date.

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Council completes a story, a Masonic allegory. Freemasonry is very philosophical and teaches its ideals by allegory or story. This philosophy is moralistic and religious however Freemasonry is not a religion, nor a substitute for one.

Ancient Craft Masonry centers around the story of the preservation, loss and recovery of the Word.  The Word presents man's search for life's purpose and the nature of God. Symbolic Freemasonry, as in the Lodge, teaches of the loss of the Word and hope for its recovery. Royal Arch Masonry, as in the Chapter, teaches of its recovery. Cryptic Masonry, as in the Council, completes this story by teaching of the Word's initial preservation.

As in many of the Masonic degrees, the origins of the degrees of Cryptic Masonry are shrouded in mystery. Yet, they have attained a substantial growth and one out of every two Royal Arch Masons is a Cryptic Mason.

Nearly two hundred years ago the degrees of Royal Master and Select Master appeared. Traveling Masonic lecturers throughout the East were conferring them upon Masons, while engaging in instructing in Craft (Lodge) and Capitular (Chapter) degrees. Even one Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite included the degree of Select Master as one of its "detached" degrees. But, these beautiful degrees were not to remain detached for any length of time. The state of Connecticut bore the first Grand Council in 1819. In Virginia and West Virginia the degrees developed in the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons where they still remain. In the 1870's a General Grand Council was formed for the United States of America.

Biblical students and archaeologists know of the vaults or crypts beneath King Solomon's Temple. These vaults exist even at this late date. Masonic degrees were probably not actually conferred in these vaults.

However, such a legend does persist throughout Freemasonry. The legends, conveyed in this system of degrees, form a beautiful allegory or story. The Masonic author, Albert G. Mackey, writing of the vault, says: "The vault was, therefore, in the ancient mysteries, symbolic of the grave: for initiation was symbolic of death, where alone Divine Truth is to be found. Freemasons have adopted the same idea. They teach that death is but the beginning of Life; that if the first, or evanescent Temple of our transitory life be on the surface, we must descend into the secret vault of death before we can find that sacred deposit of Truth, which is to adorn our second Temple of Eternal Life." This teaching is not unusual in Freemasonry since as was stated previously the requirements for membership include a professed belief in God and one's eternal life.

The Cryptic Rite or degrees derives its name from the setting of the degrees of Royal Master and Select Master in the underground crypt beneath King Solomon's Temple. The word cryptic means hidden, hence its use in describing these degrees. The last of the series of Cryptic degrees is not cryptic because it does not comply with the requirement of a vault scene. It might be regarded as one of the Cryptic Rite's detached degrees for it has no connection either in history or symbolism with those of Royal Master and Select Master, as shall be discuss later.

The degrees of the Council of Royal and Select Masters are necessary to fully complete your education in Ancient Craft Masonry. The degrees of our Masonic system are not chronologically arranged and in the degrees of Royal and Select Master, which many believe are the most beautiful and impressive of all, you learn of additional incidents in the building of the first temple. During these degrees you represent the Master Builder, Hiram Abiff, and learn why the word was lost and the secret of its preservation and recovery.

The degrees of the Council will enable you to more fully understand your third degree of Symbolic Masonry and the degree of Royal Arch.  An interesting side degree governed by the council is the 'Royal Ark Mariner' degree. It is conferred only upon Super Excellent Masters and in a Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners whose officers are those of the Council.


This is the first degree of the Cryptic Rite as conferred in the United States of America. Candidates who receive the degree are impressed with its dignified ritual and relevant teachings. It contains one section which is generally regarded as an outstanding display of symbolism and content of philosophy. The ritualistic presentations in the degree explain the articles contained in the Holy of Holies of King Solomon's Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant, a knowledge of which is essential to those who would fully understand the preceding degrees. It is conferred in a place known as the council chamber, which represents the private apartment of King Solomon’s Temple, where he and his two associates (Royal Assistants) met for consultation and deliberation during the construction of the Temple, and the drama portrayed in it sheds additional light on both the Master Mason and Royal Arch degrees. It and the following degree are essential to a clear understanding of the events of one section of the Royal Arch.


The degree of Select Master has not always been associated with that of Royal Master. Jeremy Cross, a traveling Masonic lecturer, author, and educator of the early 1800's, is given credit by most writers for having combined the two degrees into one rite. There is strong evidence to support the theory that the degree came from a similar degree of the Scottish Rite called Intimate Secretary of Grand Tiler of King Solomon. Regardless of its origin the legend of this degree is old.

The scene of this degree is laid in the underground vault of King Solomon's Temple. The events which characterize the degree are stirring enough to make it one of intense interest. The historical object of the degree is to commemorate the deposits of an important secret or treasure which, after the preliminary preparations, is said to have been made by our three Grand Masters.  The ritualistic presentations contain the story to "complete the Circle of Perfection" in Ancient Craft Masonry.


As we have stated, the degree of Super Excellent Master is not a degree of the Crypt, but it relates events that lead to the recovery of the lost Word. This degree beautifully tells of a period of history in which all Freemasons are interested, that period following the destruction of the first Temple. It is a vivid dramatization of truth and fidelity and never fails to impress those who witness it, either for the first time or after many times. It has one of the best written rituals in Masonry.  The degree of Super Excellent Master is one of the best devised, most impressive, and beautiful degrees.

The essence of the degree is foretold in the presentation by the Principal Sojourner in the Royal Arch Degree when he makes reference "Zedekiah was one and twenty year old when he began to reign and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem, and he did that which as evil in the sight of the Lord his God," etc.   It is most enlightening and relevant to one's daily life.  In a display of exciting events, Biblical characters come to life exemplifying the historical drama of the Holy Bible. It deals with incidents in the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar when Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, was conquered and carried captive to Babylon. It enlarges upon the section of the Royal Arch having to do with the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King, and teaches in most dramatic fashion the lesson of fidelity.  Here Nebuchadnezzar rules again; Zedekiah proves the results of his wicked life; Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesy the promises of Almighty God.

As stated earlier, an interesting side degree governed by the council is the 'Royal Ark Mariner' degree. It is conferred only upon Super Excellent Masters and in a Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners whose officers are those of the Council.  Let's review what it is.


This degree, although worked under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, and requiring every candidate to be a Mark Master Mason, has no historical connection whatsoever with that degree. Mark Grand Lodge's rule over the 'Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Royal Ark Mariners' is simply a quirk of fate and a very interesting story in itself (but one that must be left unto after you have joined our ranks!). 

It stands entirely alone and totally unrelated to any other degree in freemasonry.  

As its name suggests, it has a nautical flavor and takes, for its scenario, the circumstances leading up to the Great Flood as recorded in the Book of Genesis and the steps taken by Noah to build the Ark by which mankind was preserved from perishing in the "Universal Deluge". 

Like the Mark Master Mason's Degree, which is based on an established fact (i.e. the construction of the Temiple at Jerusalem), so the degree of Royal Ark Mariner is also based on an actual happening, (i.e. the Great Flood), as recorded in the Bible and as established in the year 1929 by the archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, who not only found clear evidence of the flood, and established that it had occurred some 6000 years previously, but also proved that it had covered an area of some 4000 square miles of what was then Mesopotamia, now Iraq. To the people of that part of the world, who probably never travelled beyond the perimeter of their own villages, it must have seemed that the whole world was under water.  

Quite recently, there have been developments in that part of the world inasmuch as an expedition, looking for evidence of the Ark on the Turkish-Iranian border and using aerial photographs and radar imagery, believe they have found the remains of the Ark, 75 feet below ground level on the upper slopes of Mount Al Judi, at an altitude of some 7000 feet. The image appears to be about 515 feet in length (comparing favorably with the 300 cubits specified' Genesis). It is worth reflecting that one translation of the Bible says that the Ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat rather than Mount Ararat and also that the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, has its own 'Noah' character and that, in the Qur'an account of the flood, the Ark comes to rest on Mount Al Judi, which is part of the Ararat mountain range and a mere 20 miles from Mount Ararat! There's certainly food for thought there and, who knows, we may be on the threshold of a most remarkable discovery.  

Getting back to the masonic side, the senior officers of a Royal Ark Mariner Lodge represent Noah and two of his two sons, Japheth and Shem.  

Like the Mark Master Mason's Degree, there is only one ceremony to complete, i.e. the ceremony of Elevation, and this is relatively short (about 45 minutes).  

During the ceremony, analogies are drawn between the dangers of the flood and the dangers of life and how we should strive to reach the 'Ark', the haven of rest, just as Noah's family and the other occupants of his ark did, according to the account in the Bible.  

Once again, in this degree there are some really beautiful portions of ritual which are guaranteed to make a lasting impression on every candidate

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The Knights Templar is a Christian-oriented fraternal organization that was founded in the 11th century. 

The Commandery has had a long and interesting history. Although written records date back only to the mid 1700s, scholars believe they can trace the organization back to the Crusades.

One of the Orders of the Commandery is "The Order of Malta". This the scholars believe to be descended from those early Knights of Malta. 

Originally, the Knights Templar were laymen who protected and defended Christians traveling to Jerusalem. These men took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and were renowned for their fierceness and courage in battle.  

Eventually they were driven out of Jerusalem by force and ended up on the Island of Malta. Later, being forced from there, they were welcomed in Italy and Germany until once more they were forced to move on and the Order was suppressed with each Knight going his own way until the Order reappeared.

History tells us that they, too, eventually were driven from Jerusalem and ended up on the Island of Malta.  Later, being forced from there, they were forced to retreat back to Europe and were welcomed in Italy and Germany until once more they were forced to move on and had to disburse and hide from harsh rulers with each Knight going his own way.

Scholars are of the belief that many of these Knights escaped and carried the secrets of the Knights Templar with them to one day be resurrected. 

The Knights Templar represent Freemasonry from the background of the New Testament era of the Bible. It is the change from the time of Ancient Craft Masonry to that of Christian Masonry, and thus "Every Christian Mason should be a Knight Templar".

The earliest recording of Knights Templar in the U.S. dates back to 28 August 1769 in Boston, Massachusetts. The organization began to flourish and we learn that an Encampment of Knights Templar (today known as a Commandery) was organized in South Carolina. Other Encampments then followed. On 21 June 1816, the General Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America was organized

Three Degrees Of The Knights Templar consists of three degrees: Order of Red Cross, Order of Malta and Order of the Temple.  

The Order of the Red Cross is based upon Old Testament events and is thus pre-Christian in its focus. This order has much in common with the 15th and 16th degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.

The Order of Malta and the Order of the Temple have a New Testament orientation and their lessons are based upon the crusades of the original Knights Templar. Whether there is an actual historical link between the modern Masonic Knights Templar and the historical group of the same name is debatable. Some think there is such a link, others do not.

Each of these portray beautiful and impressive lessons and explain the Christian interpretation of Freemasonry.

Today, the Knights Templar display their courage and goodwill in other ways. They organize fund-raising activities such as breakfasts, dinners, dances, and flea markets. They support Masonic-related youth groups and they raise millions of dollars for medical research and educational assistance.

The Commanderies of Knights Templar support two philanthropies, The Knights Templar Eye Foundation and the Educational Loan Foundation. The first, which is organized through the Grand Encampment, deals with the correction of eye problems, as experienced by both children and adults. These are the types of vision handicaps which can be corrected through surgery. The second philanthropy is providing financial assistance to students through low interest loans which do not have to be repaid until after the student has graduated. Some Grand Commanderies have their own special projects to help others.


As the first step in a Commandery of Knights Templar, The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross continues or reverts to the period of the Royal Arch Degree when the Jews were returning from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. One of their number prevails upon King Darius to restore the Holy Vessels to the new Temple. They had been carried away by the Babylonian armies when the first Temple was destroyed. In presenting his plea before the King, the companion gives a powerful testimony to the almighty force of Truth.  The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, peculiar to America, teaches the lessons of the triumph of TRUTH.


The second Order in the Commandery is the Knight of Malta with its pass degree of Knight of St. Paul or the Mediterranean Pass. This Order is the first Christian Order encountered by the candidate. The ritual is based historically upon one of the old Orders of the Crusades.

Shifting to the time of the Crusades, admission to the Mediterranean Pass is sought so that a safe pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher might be undertaken. This is a sublime and sacred Order, which culminates in the enrollment of the supplicant as a Knight of Malta.


This is the third and most impressive Order of the Commandery and is wholly Christian.  No Degree or Order in Masonry is more solemn, or soul searching than the Order Of The Temple. It is a fitting climax to the labors of the humble penitent, who has faithfully performed the seven symbolic years of preparation for this consummation of his endeavors. He is knighted a Christian warrior.

Knights Templar were so named because of their close association with the site of the Temple during the years they occupied Jerusalem. The Ancient Order Of  The Temple has been dispersed and its warlike spirit has passed away. There remains, however, a spirit of refined and moral Chivalry, which prompts its members to be ever ready to defend the weak, the innocent, the helpless and the Oppressed. Beautiful lessons of the death and ascension of our Saviour are inculcated and the candidate is received into full fellowship, in the most solemn manner.

The Order Of  The Temple is often called the most beautiful of all Orders and Degrees of Masonry. No Mason, who is a believer in the Christian religion, should be satisfied until he has received this -- the capstone of the York Rite.

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An Honorary and Invitational Body Dedicated to Masonic Research. This is an invitational organization which requires all members first be Royal Arch Masons and be active in their local York Rite programs. The primary aims of the Grand Council, A.M.D. are to encourage research in Masonic subjects, and to support the local York Rite bodies. The Allied Masonic Degrees are detached degrees, some of which many years ago, were conferred under Craft warrants and formed part of the then loosely governed Freemasonry of the period.

Many of these detached degrees became dormant in some places, although in others they were conferred as side degrees. In time the better of these degrees were grouped together in an organized body under the title of Allied Masonic Degrees. They are conferred in the United States in Councils chartered by the Grand Council. Each Council is limited to twenty seven members, with two exceptions. One of these Councils is known as the Council of the Nine Muses and is limited to nine members. The other is Grand Masters Council, which has what is known as a roving charter. The purpose of the latter Council is to provide a place of membership in the Allied Masonic Degrees for brethren residing in localities where Councils have not been organized. Membership in every Council of Allied Masonic Degrees is by invitation, and is predicated on membership in the Royal Arch Chapter.

The degrees comprising the system are:

Royal Ark Mariner

Secret Monitor

Knight of Constantinople

Saint Lawrence the Martyr



Grand Tilers of Solomon

Allied Masonic Degrees Master of Tyre

Excellent Master

Installed Sovereign Master

Installed Commander Noah

Red Branch of Eri

Ye Ancient Order of Corks



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The Order of The Red Cross Of Constantine is an invitational organization of Royal Arch Masons and is considered by many to be the highest honor that can be awarded within York Rite Masonry.   It was established in England in 1865.

The membership of each Conclave is limited.

An individual must have demonstrated a high level of dedication and performance in his Masonic activities, be proposed for membership by a member knight, and pass a unanimous ballot. 


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Each applicant must be invited, must have been a Master Mason for more than five years and must be a  Trinitarian Christian by faith. He further should hold the 32nd degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, although this may be waived if the Petitioner is a Knight Templar. 

We require that all applicants must be entitled to honor in Freemasonry because of services performed for the Craft, the Church, or the Public.

We consider offices held in Masonic Bodies as evidence of service performed to the Craft. Also, honors already received in the fraternity such as the K.C.C.H., the 33rd degree, the Red Cross of Constantine, the K.Y.C.H., etc. We also consider services such as offices held in Church, activity on Boards and Committees, active work with the Boy Scouts, DeMolay, Community drives, etc., or other types of evidence of service performed for one's fellow-man. We judge each application on its own merit. Our concern is that they meet our basic requirements, and that they are worthy of the honor of membership as a reward for service they have performed.

The Royal Order comprises two Degrees, that of Heredom of Kilwinning and that of the Rosy Cross. Tradition tells us that the former was established in Judea, in Palestine, but whether at the time of the Crusaders of much earlier origin, tradition is silent.

The word "Heredom" has been variously interpreted, but the most obvious derivation is from the Hebrew word "Harodim", meaning "The Rulers", and the name of Kilwinning refers to the re-establishment of the Order by King Robert the Bruce at Kilwinning, where he presided as its first Grand Master.

The Degree of Heredom of Kilwinning is a peculiarly interesting Degree and full of instruction to Craft Masons, as in its lectures it explains the symbolism and teaching contained in the first three Degrees of what is sometimes referred to as St. John' s Masonry.

The Rosy Cross Degree, tradition takes its origin on the field of Bannockburn, on Summer St. John s Day 1314, and was instituted by King Robert the Bruce, who having in the course of the battle for Scottish independence, received assistance from a body of sixty-three knights who may have been original Knights Templar and Freemasons.


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The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests is an invitational organization with membership limitations. 

Members are selected on the basis of outstanding performance as a Commander of a Commandery of Knight Templar. They have control over thirty degrees but usually confer only the "Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest" degree.


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Knights of the York Cross of Honour is a Honor Group of York Rite Masons who are dedicated to serving the Masonic Fraternity as a Labor of Love. 

Requirements for membership are that each proposed candidate for membership must have presided over a Lodge as a Master, over a Chapter as High Priest, over a Council as Illustrious Master and over a Commandery as Commander. 

No individual should aspire to membership in K.Y.C.H., when he has done the required work and done it well. He will be invited to membership. Those who labor will be rewarded by being invited.


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The Order of Knight Masons is an invitational and honorary body.  

The Grand Council of Knight Masons of the United States of America, in consideration of its origin strives to:

1. Perpetuate the ancient rituals of the Irish Masonic Canon, (the "Green" degrees) by promoting their frequent and regular conferral in its constituent councils, and by its expectation that such conferral will be executed with an accuracy, a precision, and a dramatic power congruent with the highest traditions of the Masonic institution.

2. Elevate to membership in its constituent councils only those Freemasons who in their character and persons have amply and thoroughly demonstrated in their Masonic lives, by means of a faithful attachment to the institution, a true and honorable record of service to its goals, and a genuine dedication to its high ideals.

3. Foster in its constituent councils the regular exploration and study of the Masonic Tradition and Heritage by means of an aggressive program of scholarly inquiry and research, and to pursue that Masonic learning in the spirit of our Celtic forbears who kept the light of faith burning in times of darkness.

4. Encourage its constituent councils to discover in the pleasures and diversions of the festive board that warm fellowship and that joyous fraternity, which have ever characterized and actuated the great spirit of this Ancient Craft.

5 Promote the charitable dimension so central to, and inherent in, Masonic life and tradition by obliging its constituent councils to contribute with customary Masonic liberality to those institutions, both Masonic and non-Masonic, which serve the needs of the greater community.

There are three degrees - Knight of the Sword, Knight of the East, and Knight of the East and West. 

These "Green" degrees are ancient and are in essence "Old Testament." The 15th, 16th, and 17th degrees of the Scottish Rite, and the Order of the Red Cross of the Commandery are to some extent similar and all are based on the legend of Zerubbabel.


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Membership, which is by invitation, is predicated on Masonic affiliation and Christianity. The Society is not merely another degree of Freemasonry which may be acquired and outside of the normal "workings" of the Craft.

The Masonic qualification assures the membership that the neophyte has given proof of that fidelity and privacy which characterizes a member of that Fraternity. The Christian qualification is required because the character of the Grade rituals is completely Christian, and would not be understood or appreciated by those of other faiths. This character is emphasized in the Ceremony of Admission and it will be noted that a certain community outlook and understanding among the members (called Fraters) is necessary.

The Society is in amity with the only other similar societies in the world--Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (England) and Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (Scotland).

MSRICF Orders / Grades

First Order: Consisting of Four Grades:  These are classified as the Learning Grades.

  • First Grade - Zelator
  • Second Grade - Theoricus
  • Third Grade - Practicus
  • Fourth Grade - Philosophus

Second Order: Consisting of Three Grades:  These are the Teaching Grades.

  • Fifth Grade - Adeptus Minor
  • Sixth Grade - Adeptus Major
  • Seventh Grade - Adeptus Exemptus

The jewel of these two orders is a bar with the letters S.R.I.C.F. from which is suspended a green ribbon with the grade achieved embroidered in Roman numerals and the jewel.

The Third Order consists of Two Grades:  These are the Ruling Grades, conferred only by or with the permission of the Supreme Magus.

  • Eighth Grade - Magister ( The jewel is the same as the VII except the ribbon is gold with a suspended jewel.)
  • Ninth Grade - Magus ( The jewel is a mitre from which is suspended a red ribbon and jewel.)


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The York Rite Sovereign College of North America exists primarily to be of service to the York Rite of Freemasonry. They provide a resource of ritualists for the other York Rite bodies for special occasions.  Their main degree is that of Knight of York.

The prerequisite for membership, which is by invitation only, is good-standing in all four York Rite bodies: Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery.

The purpose of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, are as follows:

1. To foster a spirit of cooperation an coordination among each of the Bodies of York Rite Masonry.

2. To assist in worthy efforts to improve the ritualistic and dramatic presentation of York Rite work.

3. To conduct an education program in order to inculcate a greater appreciation of the principles, ideals and programs of York Rite         Masonry.

4. To strengthen York Rite Masonry in every possible manner.

5. To build up a love of country and to aid and support genuine Americanism.

6. To reward outstanding service to York Rite Masonry by awards, honors and other methods of proper recognition.

7. To support Charitable and Benevolent Endeavors of Freemasonry.

The Gold Honor Award may be given to any Mason for unselfish and faithful service in any branch of the York Rite. The recipient need not to be a member of a College, nor is it required that he be a member of all the other York Rite bodies.

Order of the Purple Cross of York

Order of Purple Cross The Order of the Purple Cross of York, the highest honor of the College, is conferred upon those members of the College who have distinguished themselves by their service to humanity or to the Rite. 

The recipients are designated Associate Regents of the Sovereign College, and from their ranks are chosen the Regents or active members of that body.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014