The chivalric orders represent a new direction of Masonic thought and experience, in that they no longer refer to
Ancient Craft Freemasonry, but to ideals and practices of
Christianity. The first order, the
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, presents the story of the
Jewish Prince, Zerubbabel (in Hebrew:
and his efforts to secure permission of
King Darius (in Farsi: داریوش) I of the
Achaemenid Persian Empire to
rebuild the Second Temple at Jerusalem. The next order,
Knight of Malta, is a complete departure from Masonry based on the
Tanakh (in Hebrew: תנ״ך)
(the “Old Testament” of the Holy Bible) and is the first
Christian order. Here, the candidate represents a knightly warrior of the
crusades prior to his departure for
Terra Sancta, the “Holy Land”. The last order is that of
Knight Templar, the crowning glory of the York Rite system.
Again, in this quite decidedly Christian order, the candidate represents a knightly postulant
who desires to unite with a commandery of Knights Templar during the era of the
crusades. After several trials to test his faith, courage, and humility, he is rewarded by
achieving his desire.
• Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
• Order of Malta or Knight Hospitaler of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta
• Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple
• Past Commander or Knight Crusader of the Cross
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross:
In the middle of the Nineteenth Century, the feeling had become almost
universal that the Order of the Red Cross was of slight importance, and was at best little more than a social observance. Hence the ceremonials were hurried over, the
candidate was practically told that it was mere matter of form, and he went away profoundly impressed that the commandery was indeed a jovial institution. Never was a
graver mistake, and the impression so made was more injurious than beneficial. The ritual now adopted can not fail to correct that erroneous view of the value of the
The Order of the Red Cross is generally conferred upon classes, and made the occasion of social intercourse among the members; for the healing of wounds, and the
forming of new bonds of fraternity. The lessons of the ceremonies tend to these noble ends, and by conferring them with the dignity and pathos they merit those ends
This order consists of two sections:
(1) Zerubbabel (in Hebrew:
[the candidate’s] admission to the Jewish Council at
Jerusalem, in which he is invested with permission and authority to travel to
Babylon and attempt to obtain leave from
King Darius (in Farsi: داریوش) I to stop the
enemies of the Jews from hindering their progress in
building the Second Temple at Jerusalem, as well as to recover the holy
vessels of the First Temple which were taken as booty to
King Nebuchadnezzar II when he destroyed the
First Temple, as depicted in the
Super Excellent Master degree ritual.
Zerubbabel is also given a sword to defend himself; a sash to remind him of his cause; and a
password to get him by Jewish sentinels on his journey. Unfortunately, he is captured and made prisoner upon reaching the domains of
(2) At the court of Darius,
Zerubbabel renews his earlier friendship with the king, and is granted a position in the royal
household. He then participates in a friendly contest with other nobles of the realm regarding
the question: “Which is greater: the strength of wine, the power of the king, or the influence of
woman?” Zerubbabel contends for the latter, and adds an additional factor: The force of
truth. After delivering his declamation on women and concluding in favour of truth above all,
Zerubbabel is declared the winner of the contest and is granted his desires by the king. To
commemorate the occasion, His Majesty creates a new order, the Illustrious Order of the
Red Cross, and after an obligation, makes Zerubbabel its first member. Next follow the signs,
grips, and words as well as a historical lecture. The body is styled a council. The cornerstone of this order is the all-important attribute of truth, and the
importance of keeping one’s word. It foreshadows the words of Jesus Christ of
Nazareth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the Life,” as
quoted in John 14:6.
The banner of the order is green in colour. In its centre is a star of seven points, painted on gold, within which is painted the blood-red
cross of the order, surrounded by the motto,
Magna est Veritas, et Prævalebit, “Truth is mighty, and will prevail.” The letters on the arms of the cross are black.
The red cross of the order is of blood-red colour, of equal arms and angles, with the letters on the extremities of the arms, D T J L,
in black. The four arms, thus
indicating Deity, Truth, Justice and Liberty, commemorate our faith in God, and in the grand characteristics of the order. This cross is the jewel of the order, and
may be properly worn by the members thereof, suspended by a green and red ribbon.
Order of Malta
or Knight Hospitaler of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta:
original Knights of Saint John, or Hospitalers of Saint John, afterward known as Knights of Rhodes, and finally called Knights of Malta, were a
military-monastic order, established in 1080 C.E. to care for sick and injured pilgrims,
and was militarised nineteen years later during the First Crusade. As early as 1018 C.E.,
some merchants from Amalfi, in the
Duchy of Naples, being struck with the misery to which the pilgrims
were exposed on their road to Terra Sancta, the “Holy Land”, obtained permission of
Tāriqu l-Hākim, the
Fatimid Caliph of
Egypt, to erect a church and build a monastery near the site of the
Holy Sepulchre at
Jerusalem, which they dedicated to
Saint John the Baptist. They entertained all pilgrims
who came for devotion, and cure, the diseased among them. They became eminent for their devotion, charity, and hospitality.
Saint John the Baptist, being their patron, they were called Brethren
Hospitalers of Saint John the Baptist of Jerusalem, in order to distinguish them from the pre-existing
Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. They took the black habit of the
Hermits of Saint Augustine, and on the left breast
wore a cross of eight points. In war, they wore crimson, with the white cross, but in their monasteries, and on the day of their profession, the black garment only.
This order actually consists of two: The Order of Saint Paul, or the Mediterranean Pass, which is a preparatory order, and the Order of Malta itself. The Order of
Malta may be conferred in either full or short form. The full form is quite elaborate and beautiful but, alas, is not conferred by many commanderies. The short form
is but a summary of the lessons taught in the full form, and this is what is described here.
The Order of Saint Paul is the first of the Christian orders contained in the chivalric
system, and is based upon the story of the Apostle Paul (née Saul)
who, en route to Rome for trial, was shipwrecked on the
island of Melite (n/k/a Malta) in 60 C.E. The candidate represents a knight preparing to
depart for the crusades in the
Holy Land. He receives sustenance, both spiritual and physical, to gird him for the ardours of
In the next portion of the order, the
history of the Knights of Saint John (Knights of Malta) is explained and the periods
of the order’s history are paralleled with the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of
Jesus Christ. While
Freemasonry often comes under attack by fundamentalists who
accuse the fraternity of being un-Christian, the candidate for admission into this Christian order can offer clear argument to the contrary.
The Order of Malta is a suitable preparation for the Order of the Temple, in that it provides the candidate with additional
New Testament instruction, particularly in the
Eight Beatitudes. The symbol of the order is the
Maltese cross, its eight points symbolic of the Beatitudes and of the eight languages which
once were spoken by its members. The candidate is created a Knight of Malta and invested with words and signs specific to the order. The body is called a priory.
The jewel of the order, depicted here, is the only jewel required for
wear at all times on the uniform of a Knight Templar. Two bars are
typically worn on the jewel: the upper bar identifies the fratre's grand
commandery (generally his home state) on a black background, while the
lower bar identifies his individual commandery on a white background. An
eight-pointed Maltese cross is used for the jewel across the world, but
the rendering varies by jurisdiction. The centre of the American version
features eagle design, derived from pre-1885 renderings of the
Great Seal of the U.S.
Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple:
original Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (Poor Fellow-Soldiers of
Christ and of the Temple of Solomon), remain the most famous of the
military-monastic orders. Founded in 1119 C.E., following the
First Crusade, to protect the safety of thousands of
Christian pilgrims to the
Regnum Hierosolimitanum (Kingdom of Jerusalem), the organisation existed until 1312 C.E. when
Pope Clement V
disbanded the order in the Vox in excelso and
tendered most Templar assets to the Knights Hospitaler in the Ad providam.
This order begins with the candidate, a Knight of Malta, who, after soul-searching reflection and suitable answers to certain questions, seeks
to unite with a commandery of Knights Templar.
To test his faith, he is directed to perform a certain number of years of pilgrimage. Being full of zeal and wishing to accomplish more useful deeds, he requests and
is granted remission. He assumes a most solemn obligation, and then is obligated to a certain number of years of knightly warfare, as a test of his courage and
constancy. Having satisfactorily performed these, he is admitted to the asylum of the Knights Templar, where he is a participant in certain memorial exercises to
King Hiram (חירם) I of
Grand Master Hiram Abif, and
Cyrene. Accompanying these exercises is a reading of
New Testament scripture and an inspirational slide presentation. He is then required to
perform a time of penance in token of his humility. Following this, he seals his membership in the order in the most solemn, impressive and binding manner, and is duly
dubbed a member of the Valiant and Magnanimous Order of the Temple. Again, he receives certain signs, grips, and words, as well as an explanation of the important
accoutrements of Templary:
the Grand Standard, the
commandery’s beaucéant, the
the spur. The body is called a commandery. The relevance of this sublime order to the
Freemason can scarcely be overstressed. It provides a vivid connection between the
Craft and Christianity. Especially relevant and
meaningful is the address given by the Prelate (chaplain) during the course of the ceremonies.
The Order of Past Commander is a
side or “chair” order conferred upon present or past Eminent Commanders of commanderies in
this state by the Illinois Knights Templar Past Commanders Association since the 1980s. It is conferred during the
association's annual meeting held the day of the annual conclave of the
Grand Commandery. While the presiding
officer is styled "President", the subordinate officers' titles parallel those of the commandery, such as
Captain General, Prelate, Senior and Junior Warden, and so-on.
The induction ceremony, taken around a large cross-shaped table, involves brief lectures reflecting on each of the
twelve principal degrees & orders of the lodge, chapter, council and commandery. With each lecture, the exemplar and
the respective degree lecturer light a candle upon the table. The ceremony teaches the fratre to
remember, and rededicate himself to, the oaths he took in each degree and the lessons he learned in them.
The symbol of the order is a bi-coloured shape of Illinois' territorial borders, in the centre of which is a blood-red
crux ordinaria with a sunburst
emanating from the intersection of the cross' arms. The two colours of the state outline
are white over black, diagonally separated, alluding to the commandery's
beaucéant. The blood-red crux ordinaria, or
"passion cross" recalls the crucifixion of Jesus, circa 33 C.E., and his subsequent resurrection. The
sunburst modifies the cross and forms the style of cross used by sitting and past commanders on their
mantle breast, uniform cuffs, and
uniform shoulder boards.
Knight Crusader of the Cross:
The Knight Crusaders of the Cross is a
side or “chair” order conferred upon present or past Eminent Commanders of commanderies. It is not used everywhere, but is gaining
in popularity across the country. The degree originated in Florida in 1969 and spread
north. Typically it is conferred during the annual conclave of the state’s
Grand Commandery. The body is styled an asylum, and has eight officers, the highest
being the Knight Crusader of the East.
The induction ceremony opens with three brief lectures on Masonic Templary and the duties of a commander, followed by
the arrangement of the candidates into a cross formation in the centre of the asylum, where they receive refreshment and are dubbed Knight Crusaders of the Cross.
It concludes with a brief lecture on the ancient Knights Templar and an explanation of
the Jerusalem cross, as well as the modes of recognition among knight crusaders.
The Jerusalem cross represents
Jesus’ instruction to proselytise
Christianity around the world, a mission that started in
Jerusalem. It was part of the coat of arms of the
Regnum Hierosolimitanum (Kingdom of Jerusalem) (1099-1203 C.E.). The most
common heraldic interpretations are:
• Four tau crosses, symbolising the
Tanakh (“Old Testament”); and four
crux immissa quadrata (Greek crosses), symbolising the
• The Four Evangelists –
John – with
Jesus in the centre.
Note also how the Evangelists’ Cross eludes to the banners of the four cardinal
Tribes of Israel, and thus the supreme degree of Holy Royal Arch Mason.
• Christianity, represented by the
Teutonic cross, or
“cross potent,” in the centre; proselytised by missionaries to the
four corners of the world, represented by the four
crux immissa quadrata.
• Five crosses representing the
Jesus’ five wounds when
The similar crusaders’ cross was borne on the
crusaders’ banner prescribed by
Pope Urban II for the
First Crusade in 1096 C.E. The
Jerusalem cross is distinguished from the
crusaders’ cross by the bars at the ends of the
Jerusalem cross’ arms.