What is Chivalric Freemasonry?
a history and explanation of our order
• All Master Masons are Encouraged to Pursue Templary
• Knights Templar Home in Paxton
• The Knights Templar Eye Foundation
• Knights Templar Educational Foundation
• Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage
In the early Eighteenth Century, Jacobites such as
Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay,
FRS, and Karl Gotheif, Baron von Hund and Alten-Grotkau, put forth a fanciful
theory that Freemasonry was historically connected to the
crusades and the
order of warrior-monks known as the
Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and
of the Temple of Solomon) – better known as the Knights Templar. Although
these theories have been firmly impeached, they continue to this day to be parroted by
the ill-informed, whether in support of, or in opposition to, the Craft.
Soon after Ramsay and Gotheif popularised the Masonic crusader myth, Masonic Templarism originated in the lodges subordinate to the
Most Ancient & Honourable Society of Freemasons (a/k/a the “Antients”)
under Most Worshipful Grand Master John Murray, 3rd Duke of Athol,
PC, who was also Grand Master of
Masons in Scotland. In or about 1780, the
Order of the Temple was codified into the Masonic system, following the
Holy Royal Arch degree in sequence; by that time, the
Antients were led by
Most Worshipful Grand Master John Murray, 4th Duke of Athol,
The first Templar to be initiated in the United States was William Davis who was given the degrees of
Super Excellent Master,
Holy Royal Arch Mason, and
Knight Templar by St. Andrew’s Royal Arch Lodge on 28 August 1769. Davis owned an chemist shop in
Boston, but is perhaps most noted for his efforts at the
Battle of Bunker Hill (more accurately, Breed’s Hill) in 1775, where Davis
reportedly suggested the so-called “barrel defence” in which barrels full of earth and stone were rolled down on the attacking British forces.
Other Revolutionary War notables were similarly invested into the
Order of the Temple. Among them was
Most Worshipful Grand Master Paul Revere who had been initiated on 11 December 1769.
Latterly, on 14 May 1770, Joseph Warren, another
Revolutionary War hero, would add his name to the roster of early American
Templars. In Canada, the first Provincial Grand Conclave was organized in 1855 under the direction of Colonel William James Curry McLeod Moore who took the role of
Provincial Grand Commander. Thirteen years later, the
Grand Priory of the Dominion of Canada (n/k/a The Sovereign Great Priory of Canada) was formed and, once
again, Colonel McLeod Moore would take the helm as
Canada’s first Grand Prior.
Like our ancient predecessors, the modern Knights Templar are individuals who share a commonality of purpose and belief. As such, we are drawn together in a
brotherhood to explore the mysteries of our order. Each Sir Knight is bolstered by the commonality of his fellows, but the order is not only focused inward. There
are many opportunities for drawing our families into activities with a special recognition and status for our wives. Beyond the family, there is an ongoing outreach
into the community that expands for a third time, the circle of fellowship of mutually rewarding activities.
Master Masons are Encouraged to Pursue Templarism:
The Knights Templar are at the pinnacle of York Rite Freemasonry. A
Master Mason begins his journey towards knighthood by
petitioning for the York Rite degrees and orders. These include
the capitular degrees, the
cryptic degrees, and the chivalric orders.
The Knights Templar provide a path for those who wish to continue the growth of character, morality and brotherly love through
Freemasonry. Building on what is taught in lodge, the modern Knights Templar add the lessons of
Christian brotherhood and devotion to duty that so marked the
ancient Templars. Today, that spirit lives on. It is captured in our commanderies by
modern Knights. Nobleness of purpose, commitment to a cause, self-sacrifice and honour are not just abstractions, they live in the chivalry of the Knights Templar
where pageantry and action combine for the good of the order and the world.
Steeped in the spirit of chivalry, the modern Knight Templar is devoted to honour in all things, abhorring cruelty, deceit and cowardice. Devoted to duty to his
order and his country, he is a leader in protecting the rights of others, especially those who cannot protect themselves.
Knights Templar Home in Paxton:
Open to all Freemasons and our families, the Knights Templar Home, in
is supported by the
Grand Commandery of Illinois as a service to our brethren. In the highest
Masonic tradition of charity, the home is a place where the aged and infirm can get care in an atmosphere of brotherly love.
Located in central Illinois,
it is convenient to all parts of the state.
Knights Templar Eye Foundation:
This nationwide foundation is instrumental in providing care for anyone with serious eye disease and
without financial means to receive treatment. The Foundation is so respected within the medical
community that necessary treatment can begin with only the word of the director.
Knights Templar Educational Foundation:
The Knights Templar Educational Foundation’s bursaries are not “grants in aid,” but are open to all students regardless of their financial circumstances.
All applications will be considered without regard to age, race, religion, national origin, gender, or
Masonic ties or affiliations.
Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage:
In addition to the many religious observances throughout the year, the
Grand Encampment of Knights Templar sponsors an annual
Holy Land Pilgrimage. The purpose of the
pilgrimage is to send a Christian Minister to the
Terra Sancta, the “Holy Land”.
Masonic membership is not required and the minister can be either male or female.
In the United States, individuals bodies are referred to as commanderies and the principle officer is styled an Eminent Commander. Generally, commanderies – and
preceptories, as they are known in Canada – will take the name of a key player in templar or
mediæval history; for example, St. Bernard Commandery No. 35 or
Albertus Magnus Commandery of Research No. 92.
A commandery of Knights Templar has twelve officers, in order of rank: Eminent Commander, Generalissimo, Captain General,
Recorder, Treasurer, Prelate, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Standard Bearer, Sword Bearer, Warder, and Sentinel. Members are styled “Sir Knight”. A quorum of at
least nine sir knights must be present to open a commandery. Commanderies’ conclaves are typically held monthly. The state governing body is the
Grand Commandery. The national body, to which American grand commanderies must
belong, is the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America.
The regalia worn by the modern day Masonic Knights Templar is a harsh departure from that worn by the
Templars of the Middle Ages. The sharpest contrast is in the amount of ornamentation on
the sword. The templar rules of order forbade any decoration on the templar’s sword while a
modern templar sword is full of all manner of carving, engraving and ornamentation.
The regalia of Masonic Templars has changed since the 1769. The regalia formerly included a triangular black apron bearing the
skull and cross bones, an emblem familiar to the Masonic Templar as a symbol of
mortality. Additionally, knights wore white satin gauntlets with a cross in blood-red felt
crux ordinaria (Roman cross) thereon.
The mantle is of white cloth. Is hood is always worn down, over the wearer’s back. A large,
blood-red crux ordinaria is on the left breast. Sir Knights’
mantles are secured with a white neck rope, and the hood is unlined and white. A
past commander’s mantle is bordered in red and
secured with a red neck rope; his cross’ intersection is surrounded with a sunburst; and his hood is lined in red.
The cap is a round-sided, brimless, flat-topped pillbox style cap of red felt or velour. In
the centre of its face is a blood red crux ordinaria. The cross is outlined in
silver-white on the caps of Sir Knights. On the
caps of past commanders, the cross is outlined in
gold with a sunburst radiating from behind the intersection.
A nine-pointed silver star, bearing a blood red
crux ordinaria surrounded by the motto, In hoc signo vinces,
“In this (sign), you will conquer”, is the emblem of the order and is worn on the baldric above
the heart. Note: although referred to as a
baldric in the ritual, the sash is more properly a riband, as it is not designed to carry a weapon. Rather, the sword is supported by
an unrelated strap.
Several jewels are authorised to be worn from the breast pocket of the black uniform coat. Among them are the jewels of the
Order of Malta and, less commonly, that of the Order of the Red Cross. Also worn
are the jewel of the wearer’s office, and that of an Eminent Past Commander if the wearer was
regularly installed and presided over a commandery. Finally, there are the jewels of various honours presented by the
Grand Commandery and the
Grand Encampment. A ribbon denoting military service may be worn above the jewels by honourably