Templar Times


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Installed as Grand Orator

Well, today ended the 147th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho and the 2014-2015 officers, elected and appointed, were installed today. Brother G. Arthur Shoemaker now sits as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho and I look forward to next year. 

I have the pleasure of serving the Grand Lodge of Idaho as the Grand Orator. Art served as Worshipful Master of my Lodge in 2008 while I served as Senior Warden so I happily accepted the appointment when Art approached me this last Summer. As Grand Orator it is my duty to deliver an address at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge on a Masonic topic as well as dedications and other times as designated by the Most Worshipful Grand Master. I look forward to serving in this capacity and serving the Brethren of Idaho.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Ancient City of Tyre

In Freemasonry, we learn a bit about the Biblical character Hiram, King of Tyre, or Hiram I, who was an ally of King David and King Solomon, and who was integral in the building of King Solomon's Temple. During Hiram's reign 10th century BC, the height of the kingdom of Tyre, improvements such as cisterns, ports, shipyards, temples, and palaces, were made to the island and made it a jewel in the Mediterranean region.

Tyre, also known in Arabic as Ṣūr, is located 83-km south of Beirut and is the fourth largest city in what is now Lebanon, and which was known for being the dominant city-state of the Phoenician Empire. The literal translation of Tyre is "rock" as the original location of Tyre was very rocky. According to statements made to Herodotus, the city of Tyre was founded around 2750 BC. Originally it was a heavily fortified island, but over the centuries it has been connected to the mainland. The city had many plazas and squares, but due to the space restrictions of the island many of the buildings were built taller and were the sky-scrapers of their time. The Tyrian Island had two harbors, one on the northern and southern sides of the island; these two harbors gave it maritime prominence is ancient days. The northern harbor is still in use today. Prior to Alexander the Great, Tyre was just an island and on the mainland there was a community known as Ushu, but known as Palaetyrus, or Old Tyre, by the Greeks. This mainland city was primarily used for supplying the island as it sat at the foot of mountains and near the gorge of the ancient Leontes River, and they prospered as a result of the maritime wealth accumulated by Tyre.

Tyre has had a profound effect on the history of civilization. Tyre was a maritime power in the Mediterranean and was known as "Queen of the Sea." Around the 700 BC, Phoenician traders began to expand their trade. In turn this expansion led the Tyre establishing colonies around the Mediterranean such as Carthage and as far west as Spain. They traded first with wood, metals, salves, wine, and glass, but one of its trades it was known for, was its rare purple dyes which were used primarily by royalty as it was so costly. It was the purple dye that gave the Phoenicians their name as Phoenician means "purple people," originating from the Greek word "phoinios" meaning "purple." It is said that the alphabet into Greece was attributed to Cadmus of Tyre. The sister of Cadmus was named Europa and which it is believed that the continent was named. It there prowess on the seas and in trade that made them such a great match for King David and King Solomon, and the building of the Temple.

Tyre was continuously attacked by nation and empire; the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Crusaders, and Arabs. The Phoenicians were defeated by Cyrus the Great and Tyre was created one of the four vassal kingdoms of the Empire. Under the Persians, the Tyre was known for furnishing ships. Alexander the Great attempted to lay siege, but was originally unsuccessful. He had to destroy Ushu to build a causeway to the island was he enabled to bring siege engines and scale the walls of Tyre. He was brutal to the people of Tyre; he executed many of the males who were of age to serve in the military, sold thousands to slavery, and razed the city to the ground. This brutality stems from the Tyrians killing an ambassador that Alexander has sent to them asking for a peace treaty. Alexander's primary goal was Egypt, but after the death of his ambassador, he had to set an example. Although the people received brutal treatment, the King, Azemilcus, or Azimilik, was spared. The city would eventually be rebuilt and they regained autonomy, but never to the prominence they once were and eventually they would be enveloped by the Roman Empire.

The city of Tyre was captured by the Crusaders in 1124 and would become an important city in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Tyre was the site for the Archbishop of Tyre, the most notable of whom was William of Tyre who is known for recording the history of the medieval Knights Templar. In 1291, Tyre was taken by the Mameluks and then became a part of the Ottoman Empire. This lasted until the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the state of Lebanon in 1920. At the present day, Tyre covers a larger part of the island and has expanded along the causeway (expanded greatly since Alexander's time) toward the mainland. It is primarily composed of Shia Muslims, but has a small community of Sunnis as well as Christians. Along with fishing, tourism is a primary source of income. This ancient city has had impact on the world that covers the histories of ancient empires, religious traditions, and even the legends of our ancient and honorable Fraternity.


1. Byers, G. (2010, January 26). The Biblical Cities of Tyre and Sidon. Retrieved from Associates for Biblical Research: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/01/26/the-biblical-cities-of-tyre-and-sidon.aspx#Article 

2. Ellis, E. S., & Home, C. F. (1913). The Ancient City of Tyre. Retrieved from Public Bookshelf: http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/The_Story_of_the_Greatest_Nations_and_the_Worlds_Famous_Events_Vol_1/ancientc_jg.html 

3. List of kings of Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kings_of_Tyre 

4. Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Phoenicia. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia: http://www.ancient.eu/phoenicia/ 

5. Mark, J. J. (2009, September 2). Tyre. Retrieved from Ancient History Encyclopedia: http://www.ancient.eu.com/Tyre/ 

6. Padfield, D. (1994). The Destruction Of Tyre. Retrieved from The Church of Christ: http://www.padfield.com/1994/tyre.html 

7. Phoenicians. (n.d.). Retrieved from Time Maps: http://www.timemaps.com/civilization/Phoenicians 

8. Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyre,_Lebanon 

9. Tyre. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Brittanica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/611914/Tyre/ 

10. Tyre (Sour). (n.d.). Retrieved from Tyre City Webpage: http://tyros.leb.net/tyre/ 

11. Tyre, Lebanon. (n.d.). Retrieved from About: http://atheism.about.com/od/bibleplacescities/ig/Tyre-Lebanon-Phoenician-Photos/Tomb-of-Hiram-1.htm

Saturday, September 6, 2014

30th Birthday

Well, here's to 30 amazing years on this planet!!! I have a great family, I've traveled around the world, I've had the pleasure of serving in the military, I'm going through an amazing journey through Freemasonry, I'm in my final semester as an undergraduate at Boise State, and I look forward to what the future may bring to my life.

Now it's time to relax before going to dinner tonight with the family and then a night on the town with my friends.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Teutonic Knights

Another chivalric order that was established during the Crusades was the "Orden der Brüder vom Deutschen Haus St. Mariens in Jerusalem" or Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, or also known as the Teutonic Knights. This medieval order was primarily composed of German nobles and, similar in duty with the Templars and Hospitalliers, it was established to aid Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals, but in comparison to other knighthoods was relatively small.

Noblemen would serve as either Knights or Priests (thought nobility was not required for priests) while those of common lineage would compose the infantry or work as book-keepers or in the hospitals (this third class was often referred to as serving brothers). The knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Life as a knight was communal, they owned nothing personally and, in keeping of their vows, the armor they donned in battle was plain and simple. The uniform of the knights was a white surcoat with a black cross (often a cross pattée) upon the left shoulder. The squires also used these same colors so they could be identified with the Teutonic order. The motto of the Order was: "Helfen, Wehren, Heilen" or "Help, Defend, Heal". 


The members of the order assembled to form the "Generalkapitel," or General Chapter, which was often used to elect the new Grand Master met annually and usually was only attended by the higher officer. For the elections, the Großkomtur of the late Hochmeister set the date and location of the elections, and once assembled he nominated a knight to serve as first elector. If approved, the first elector then nominated a second elector. This process continued until eight knights, one priest, and four members of common lineage were selected. This committee would meet privately where the first elector would make nominations for Hochmeister and only a majority vote would result in a new Hochmeister. The decision would be taken before the Generalkapitel where priests would escort the new Hochmeister to the altar to take the oath of office all the while singing the hymn "Te deum laudamus."

The order was led by the "Hochmeister" or Grand Master who was still considered "first among equals" and who served for life or resignation. This position had to be chosen from the knight class only which meant that the Hochmeister was of noble birth. Until 1525, this position was elected by the Generalkapitel and until 1466 was also sovereign prince of Prussia.

Appointed by the Hochmeister, the Großgebietiger were high officers that filled the following offices: 
The Großkomtur who was the deputy of the Hochmeister and had supervision over the clergy; sometimes referred to as Preceptor
The Treßler or Treasurer
The Spitler who was responsible for all hospital affairs
The Trapier who was responsible for dressing and armament
The Marschall who was the chief of military affairs
There were also a variety of special offices that worked for the Hochmeister. The Kanzler, or Chancellor, of the Hochmeister and the Deutschmeister. The Chancellor took care of the keys and seals and was recording clerk of the GeneralkapitelThe order was given the right to mint their own currency in 1246 and the production was overseen by the Münzmeister, or master of the mint, of Thorn. The Pfundmeister, or customs master, of Danzig. The Generalprokurator represented the order at the Holy See. The Großschäffer was a trading representative with special authority.

The Teutonic Knights were divided into three national chapters: Prussia, Livland and the territory of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Each national chapter was led by a Landmeister which position was elected by the regional chapters. After 1309, the Landmeister of Prussia was also the Hochmeister. The Landmeister of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was also known as the Deutschmeister, and after Prussia and Livland were lost became the Hochmeister. With the order spread throughout the Holy Roman Empire, there was also a regional structure with supervision being left to a Bailiwick. The administrative unit at the local level was known as a Kommende and was ruled by a Komtur (Commander)


The Teutonic Knights were formed and recognized by Pope Celestine III in 1192 in Acre. This order was started by merchants from Lübeck and Bremen who had set up a field hospital during the Siege of Acre. This hospital was needed as German knights and soldiers suffering from sickness or wounds were left unattended as most of them did not speak Latin or French. Eventually a site within the walls of Acre were purchased. It was enlarged to include quarters for members, pilgrims and soldiers.

By 1198 the order started to turn into military order which also started the position of Hochmeister or Grand Master. In 1209 the order dropped its hospital mission and became strictly a military order. The order was given land in present day Germany and Italy, but also had property in Turkey and in the Levant (northeast of Acre). Most of the donations coming from the Holy Roman Empire. In 1214, Emperor Frederick I gave the position of Grand Master a spot in the imperial court and Frederick II exempted them from taxes and allowed use of imperial lands.

Not as strong or popular as their Templar and Hospitallier orders, the Teutonic Knights were still known for their battle prowess. They moved most of their forces to Transylvania in 1211 to help defend the borders of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Kipchaks, a Turkic tribal confederation. This didn't last long and in 1225 these knights were expelled by force by King Andrew II of Hungary as it was alleged the knights were attempting to place themselves under Papal instead of Hungarian sovereignty.

In 1226, Konrad I, Duke of Masovia (northeast Poland) requested help from the order to protect the borders from the pagan Prussians who were accused of destroying crops, stealing cattle, razing towns, destroying convents, murder, and sacrificing victims to their pagan gods. In 1230, the Teutonic Knights took part in the Prussian Crusade which was a joint invasion of Prussia intended to Christianize the inhabitants of the area. The Holy Roman Emperor gave the order rights of conquest and possession of Prussia. The order erected a fortress at Thorn, or Toruń (birthplace of Nicolaus Copernicus) near the Vistula River and on a grove of oaks considered sacred by the pagan inhabitants.

The Teutonic Knights ruled Prussia as a sovereign monastic state (comparable to Knights Hospitallers in Rhodes and Malta). Fighting was fierce between the order and the native Prussians, but eventually the fighting died down and the people started to assimilate to the culture, religion, and language perpetuated by the order. Eventually Europeans (primarily Germanic, Flemish, or Dutch) started to emigrate to Prussia. In their conquest through the Baltic region, they defeated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1237 at the Battle of Saule which resulted in the Livonian order being absorbed into the Teutonic Knights. During this time the order continued to conquer Prussian territory and even attempted to expand into the Russian Empire, but was repelled. The order then turned its focus to pagan Lithuania which was seen as equally brutal conflict as that in Prussia, but fighting in Lithuania would last for two centuries.

In Poland, the knights took over property in Chelmno Land (northern central Poland) as a base of their operations. From this the knights were able to create the independent Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. This caused friction with the Polish monarchs and with problems with succession land disputes erupted. War erupted between Poland and the order. In 1291, the order moved its headquarters to Venice after the loss of Acre and the last Western holds in the Holy Land.

In 1309 the Knights moved their headquarters to Marienburg and the Landmeister of Prussia was merged with that of the Hochmeister. Fighting continued until 1343 when the papacy ended the conflict with the Treaty of Kalisz which left Chelmno Land to the knights, but the Poles regained Kuyavia and the Lands of Dobrzyń.

While fighting in Lithuania continued, the order was also involved with ending piracy in the Baltic Sea. The Victual Brothers were stationed on island, but were besieged and conquered in 1398.

Troubles with Poland woould be reignited after the Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania was baptized into Christianity and married Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and subsequently became King of Poland. By 1407, the order had the lands of Prussia, Pomerelia, Samogitia, Courland, Livonia, Estonia, Gotland, Dagö, Ösel, and the Neumark. The new Lithuanian-Polish alliance did not trust the order and in 1409 the "Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War" began. The Teutonic Knights were defeated in 1410 by a Polish-Lithuanian army at the Battle of Grunwald. An attempt was made to take Marienburg (headquarters of the order), but this failed due to strong resistance.

The First Peace of Thorn was signed in 1411 which allowed the Teutonic Knights to retain most of their land, but their reputation was damaged and their power began to dwindle while Poland and Lithuania rose in power. Infighting began and after a decade they began to lose lands. The knights fought against Poland again with the Polish–Teutonic War which lasted from 1431 to 1435. This war was a result of the alliance between the Teutonic order and Švitrigaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, who was waging a civil war against his brother King Jogaila of Poland. The Teutonic Knights invaded Poland, but was defeated. Poland allied with the Hussites to prevent Teutonic support of Švitrigaila. In 1435, Polish forces defeated and suppressed the rebellion, and the Teutonic Knights signed the Peace of Brześć Kujawski.

In the next few decades Prussia began to fall apart. Starting in 1454, the Prussian gentry and burghers rose against the order in what is known as the Thirteen Years' War. The Prussian gentry and burghers were supported by Poland and in 1466, the Second Peace of Thorn was signed recognizing Poland's rights over western Prussia. 

The Order maintained eastern Prussia with Königsberg as its headquarters and capitol. However they were no longer considered sovereign and independent, but vassals of the King of Poland. By the end of the end of 15th century it lost its property in Sicily and influence with the Papacy. The order lost complete control of Prussia and was ousted after the Polish-Teutonic War (1519-1521).

The Protestant Reformation had a strong effect on the order and in 1522 the Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg converted to Lutheranism, resigned from the order, and became the Duke of Prussia (a vassal of Poland). Martin Luther held a negative view of the order and actually wrote a letter to the knights trying to convince them break their vows as he said they were no use for God.

The order continued to lose its lands during the following century, but did maintain many of its holdings in Protestant regions of Germany and Livonia. The Livonian property was lost in 1561 when neighboring powers started partitioning off the territory during the Livonian War. The remainder of the property was in the Holy Roman Empipre and restructured the order with a 3-tier system: commanderies, bailiwicks, and the general chapter. After the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, the order was open to Protestants, but most were Catholic.

On February 9, 1801, the Treaty of Lunéville which signed the peace between France and Holy Roman Empire, the latter being defeated and which resulted for the Teutonic Knights, the loss of their lands and possessions on the left bank of the Rhine River. In 1809 Napoleon Bonaparte forced its dissolution and lost control over its holdings to Napoleon's allies. It continued to exist, but only as a ceremonial organization in Tyrol and Austria until it was banned by Hitler in 1938. It was reestablished after the end of WWII. Today it continues to exist as a philanthropic order in Vienna, Austria, seeking to care for German-speaking communities in foreign lands which was the original mission of the order. There is a Protestant branch still in existence in Utrecht, a province of Kingdom of the Netherlands.


1. Moeller, C. (1912). Teutonic Order. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 14, 2014 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14541b.htm

2. Teutonic Knights. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teutonic_Knights

3. Teutonic Knights. (n.d.). Retrieved from Middle Ages: http://www.lordsandladies.org/teutonic-knights.htm

4. Urban, W. L. (2000). The Early Years of the Teutonic Order. In The Prussian Crusade. Chicago: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. Retrieved from Monmouth College: http://department.monm.edu/history/urban/books/PrussianCrusade2.htm

5. Woodhouse, F. C. (n.d.). Teutonic Knights: Their Organization And History. Retrieved from World History Center: http://history-world.org/teutonic_knights.htm

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Semester at Boise State

Today marks the first day of my last semester as an Undergraduate student at Boise State University. This semester will be a heavy course load as I'm taking 5-courses, or 16-credits, with 4 of those classes being upper division classes: 3 History and 1 Political Science.

Fight Broncos, celebrate the orange and blue 

Boise, we'll stand and cheer for you 

Fight for distinction & our alma mater 

Bravely defending B-S-U! 

Fight on Courageously for Boise State 

Success and honor make her great 

Boise's proud tradition- 

Head's up competition- 

Glory for B - S - U 

Go! Orange! 

Go! big! blue! 

Fight! Fight! B-S-U!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Knight Crusader of the Cross

Another "chair degree," within the York Rite system, available for present and past Eminent Commanders is the Knight Crusader of the Cross. The other one is the Order of Knights PreceptorThis order is not used everywhere, but is still growing.

The body is referred to as "Asylum" and is supported by the following officers:
Knight Crusader of the East
Knight Crusader of the West
Knight Crusader of the South
Knight Crusader of the North
Knight Crusader Treasurer-Recorder
Knight Crusader of the Holy Cross
Knight Crusader of the Asylum
Knight Crusader of the Temple
This order was established in Florida in 1969. Like the other chair degrees in the York Rite, this order meets and confers this degree at the state Grand Commandery meeting which is how most "chair degrees" operate.

The initiation is opened with three brief lectures on Masonic Templary and the duties of a Commander. The candidates are then arranged according to the ritual and dubbed "Knight Crusaders of the Cross." It ends with a brief lecture on the ancient Knight Templars and an explanation of the emblem of the order and the modes of recognition of the order. The emblem of the order is the Jerusalem Cross with the motto "Non Nobis Domine Non Nobis Sed Nomini Tua Da Gloriam" or "Not to us, not to us, O Lord, But to thy name give glory."


1. Knight Crusaders of the Cross. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand York Rite Bodies of Tennessee: http://www.tngrandyorkrite.org/index.php?chapters=Y&page=KCC 

2. Knight Crusaders of the Cross of South Carolina. (2008). Retrieved from Grand York Rite of South Carolina: http://www.yorkrite.org/sc/kcc.pdf 

3. The "Chair Degrees" of York Rite masonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite of Freemasonry: http://www.yorkrite.com/degrees/#4

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Officers of the Order of the Red Cross

The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross is the first in the line of succession of Orders of Knighthood conferred by a Commandery of Knights Templar. When this order is conferred, a Commandery of Knights Templar opens a Council of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross which is composed of the following officers: Sovereign Master, Prince Chancellor, Prince Master of the Palace, Master of Cavalry, Master of Infantry, Excellent High Priest, Master of Finance, Master of Dispatches, Standard Bearer, Sword Bearer, Warder, Sentinel, and Guards.

The presiding officer of the Council, correspondent to the Eminent Commander in the Commandery, and who, in the ritual, represents the Persian King, is known as the Sovereign Master. A Master is someone who is a master or authority in a skill or profession as well as someone is seen as a ruler or governor. This Master has an honorary title of Sovereign which is defined as someone possessing supreme power or authority within a sphere of influence. Sovereign is came to us from Old French word "soverain" meaning "highest, supreme, chief" and this was deriving from the Vulgar Latin word "superanus" meaning "chief or principal." The word "master" originates in the Latin word "magister" translating as "chief, head, director, or teacher." These two words establish this position as the unquestionable leader of a Council of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross.

Corresponding with the Generalissimo in the Commandery, the Prince Chancellor is the second in command. Traditionally, this position was a nobleman who was secretary to someone such as a King or acted as the Minister of State. The etymological root of the word "prince" is "princeps" which is Latin for "first man, chief leader; ruler, and sovereign." Chancellor stems from the Late Latin word "cancellarius" translating as "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court."

The Prince Master of the Palace is the third and last of the dais officers of the Council. In Persian courts, officers with noble blood were referred to as 'prince' and the senior ranking Prince often served as the Master of the Palace whose duty it was to supervise the affairs of the Royal household. We've seen previously where 'prince' and 'master' come from, but from these two words that we see that this position was seen as the authority over the household, similar to the Steward used in English courts. Palace came to the English language from old French word "palais" meaning "palace or court" that stemmed from the Medieval Latin "palacium" and originating the Latin word "palatiummeaning the same. "Palatium" was most likely inspired by the Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome where Caesar's house was located.

The Master of Cavalry corresponds with the Senior Warden of the Commandery. This officer is the authority of and holds superior knowledge over the Cavalry, which traditionally the component of the military that was mounted on horseback. In the Middle Ages, the Cavalry was a force to be reckoned with as a man fighting from horseback also had the advantages of greater height, speed, and inertial mass over an opponent on foot. Cavalry started to become synonymous with knights as the purchase of a warhorse and its maintenance was expensive, and knights usually came from noble families. Cavalry has evolved from the Italian word "cavalleria" meaning "mounted militia" and rooted in the Latin word "caballarius" which translates to "horseman."

Also referred to as the Companion Conductor, the Master of Infantry, corresponds to the Junior Warden of the Commandery. In comparison to Cavalry, Infantry was often composed of common folk were the troops who fought on foot (direct combat) and often suffer the greatest number of casualties in a battle. Their role on the battlefield expanded as they were inexpensive and it was much easier to recruit more infantry versus the cavalry. it is the from the Latin tongue that we find the etymological definition of infantry whereby we it derive from the word "infantem" referring to someone in their "youth" or infancy which was used to refer to soldiers that were too young, inexperienced, or of low rank.

The Excellent High Priest is in charge of a representation of the Jewish council that presided over the second building of the Temple in Jerusalem and is the one who charges Zerubabel to travel to the Persian court. As this order ties together Chivalric Masonry to Royal Arch Masonry, this officer only further strengthen this bond as the High Priest presides over a Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry in America. According to the Bible, the High Priest was the supreme religious leader of the Israelites and was a hereditary position stemming from Aaron, the brother of Moses. Once the Temple of Solomon was constructed, the High Priest was the lone person who could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and give sacrifice to God; the High Priest also had duties over other classes of priest and other sacred duties. For the Christian, Christ is seen as the greatest High Priest whereby He sacrificed himself for the atonement of the world. This officer has the honorary title of "Excellent" which stems from the Latin word "excellentem" meaning "superior, excellent, or of first-class." The word "high" is comes to us from Germanic languages; "Heh" (Anglian), "heah" (West Saxon), and haukhaz (Proto-Germanic) translate as "of great height, lofty, tall, exalted, high-class." Priest is rooted in the Latin word "prester" meaning "priest or elder."

The Master of Finance corresponds to the Treasurer and the Master of Dispatches corresponds to the Recorder or Secretary. Finance comes from the Latin word "finis" meaning "a payment in settlement, fine or tax." The origin of "dispatch" is not known, but we see it in 16th century Spanish (despachar) and Italian (dispacciare), both meaning "to expedite or hasten."

An officer in both the Commandery and the Council of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Standard Bearer is an officer whose duty to carry and protect the banner, ensign, or standard of the Order; he would correspond with the Marshal in the Lodge. The standard is a mobile symbol or representation of a military unit, state, household, or organization. To orders of knighthood, the standard served as a rallying point during battle. Some theorize that the word "standard" stems from the Old French word "estandart" meaning "military standard, banner" which came from the Frankish word "standhard" translated literally as "stand fast." Others theorize that it came from the Old French word "estendre" meaning "to stretch out," from the Latin word "extendere" meaning the same. This is thought to have been used as the banners or flags were often placed on long poles that would extend into the air for all to see.

The Sword Bearer that is also found in both the Commandery and the Council, and whose duty it was to carry the sword for the head of the order as well as assist in the protection of the standard. The word "sword" is Germanic in origin and rooted in the word "swer" which translated to mean as "to hurt or to cut."

In the Commandery and the Council, the officer charged with guarding over the entrance is known as the Warder. Traditionally a Warder referred to a watchman, a prison guard, or warden. Warder comes from the Anglo-French words "wardere" or "wardour" meaning "guardian, keeper, or custodian."

The Sentinel guards the Commandery and Council from without the door to ensure the knights are not caught or taken by surprise by those wishing to cause harm or those who are not entitled to be there. This word is rooted in the Latin word "sentire" translating as "feel or perceive by the senses."

Lastly, in the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, there are found Jewish and Persian Guards who don't correspond to any officer in the Commandery, but only serve in a ritualistic capacity. The word "guard" is defined as "one assigned to protect or oversee another." This word is derived from the Proto-Germanic word "wardo" translating as "to guard."


1. Chivalric Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite of Freemasonry: http://www.yorkrite.com/degrees/#3

2. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php

3. Denslow, R. V. (1951). A Templar Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: www.phoenixmasonry.org/templar_encyclopedia.htm

4. Connor, G. C. (1894). Order of the Red Cross. Retrieved from Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor: http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/shib/shib05.htm

5. Tierney, J. (1911). The High Priest. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12407b.htm (August 13, 2014 ).

6. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/

7. Macoy, R. (1867). The Masonic Manual. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonic_manual/knights_of_the_red_cross.htm

8. Speidel, F. G. (1978). The York Rite of Freemasonry. Raleigh: Press of Oxford Orphanage.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross

The first order conferred by a Commandery of Knights Templar is the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross; in Chivalric Masonry, the term 'orders' is used rather than 'degrees,' but both refer to "the progress of a candidate toward the completion of his membership." In the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the candidate represents Zerrubabel and presents himself as a Royal Arch Mason to a Grand Council that just convened in Jerusalem to deliberate upon the unhappy condition of the country and which desires to find a means to secure the favor of King Darius in order to proceed with the rebuilding dealt with in the Royal Arch degree. The candidate is detained and guided to the Persian court and reminds the King of his promises to aid the Jews in their work. Debate ensues and Zerrubabel boldly proclaims that Truth is on his side of the issue. So impressed with the speech, King Darius decrees his support for the continuation of the rebuilding, establishes the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross founded up on Truth, and confers it upon Zerrubabel. This legend is based upon the accounts found in the Book of II Esdras in the Apocrapha and in the writings of the famous Jewish historian, Josephus.

This order is a transitional degree that bridges Royal Arch Masonry to Chivalric Masonry. The lessons taught encourage the constant search for Truth, and emphasize the importance of Liberty and Justice with a right to worship Deity under whatever name he may be called. Historically, elements of this Order were practiced in Ancient Lodges before the final form of the Master Mason Degree came into use. It is still practiced in the full ceremonial form by the Knight Masons of Ireland and the Knight Masons of the United States, and as the Red Cross of Babylon in the English Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees.

The degree is conferred in a "Council of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross" which is presided over by the Sovereign Master, and supported by other officers, and will create a "Companion" of this Order. This Order, in American, has been under the control of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the USA since its founding.

The Banner of the Order of the Red Cross is green with a 7-pointed star at its center. Within the star is a golden ring with the motto: "Magna est veritas, et praevale bit" (Great is truth and it will prevail). Within the golden ring is a white circular field with a red Greek cross upon it. On each of the four arms is a letter which represents Deity, Truth, Justice, and Liberty. These will commemorate our faith in God and in the Grand Characteristics of this Illustrious Order.

When studying the history of the Order of the Red Cross, it is important to note that there are a number of degrees that use the same name, but have no relationship with each other. How this order came to be in existence is not exactly known, but most scholars agree that it was first conferred in the American Colonies by Scottish or Irish troops. It was through the efforts of Thomas Smith-Webb and Henry Fowle that this Order survived and came to be attached to the American Templar system. Some have claimed that it was taken from the Scottish Rite, but according to Ward St. Clair states that this is erroneous and  W.J.B. MacLeod Moore (Provincial Grand Commander in Canada) stated that after examining the ritual he concludes that the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross used in America comes from the Irish degrees known as "Knights of the Sword, Knights of the East, and Knights of the East and West," has given under the Templar warrants of Ireland, and the Royal Arch Chapters of Scotland." These names are not to be confused with the degrees, with the same name, found in the Scottish Rite. 

While Thomas Smith-Webb is seen as the main driving force behind the continuation of the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, it needs to be remembered that it existed prior to his efforts. The first mention of the Order of the Red Cross is in the “Beaumont” diploma issued by South Carolina Encampment #1 on August 1, 1783 and which associated in with the Order of the Temple. Another record is found in New England where a certificate from the Encampment at Newburyport, Massachusetts, was issued to Hamilton Moore on February 16, 1796.

Looking back at the history of the York Rite in America, we see that the earliest recorded conferral of the "four steps" on William Davis in St. Andrews Royal Arch Lodge occurred on August 28, 1769, but those four steps did not include the Order of the Red Cross. Some theorize that the Order of the Red Cross was brought to Boston through Benjamin Hurd Jr., a merchant whose travels took him to Europe. In St. Andrews Royal Arch Lodge there is no mention of the Red Cross until the minutes of February 3rd, 1797 reflect the efforts of Benjamin Hurd, Jr. to establish an association and that they be recorded in the "book of the chapter". It is theorized that while on a trip to Europe that Benjamin Hurd, Jr. received the Order of the Red Cross and brought it with him to Boston. He organized an "Association of Red Cross Knights” that was independent from St. Andrews. This group would reorganize into "Boston Council of Knights of the Red Cross." Then on December 21, 1805, it was disbanded and reorganized "Boston Encampment of Knights Templar" who took over the property and ritual of the Council of Knights of the Red Cross along with the Order of Malta and Order of the Temple. Not only did Thomas Smith-Webb and Henry Fowle helped spread the Order of the Red Cross around Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but because of their influence, the newly formed General Grand Encampment (known today as Grand Encampment) adopted the Templar system used in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; that of Order of the Red Cross, Order of Malta, and Order of the Temple.

The Order of the Red Cross was a point of contention when the Sir Knights from New England and Pennsylvania came together to form a national Templar organization. The Pennsylvania Sir Knights did not believe that the Order of the Red Cross should be included in the Templar system. The controversy over the Order of the Red Cross would continue throughout the 19th century. Many attempts were made to remove and eliminate the Order of the Red Cross from the American Templar system. Many condemned it for being a "Pagan and Jewish Rite" pushed into the orders of Christian knighthood.

Many also wished to get rid of it because foreign Templar systems did not use the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross as a prerequisite to the Order of the Temple. The Constitution also required visiting Sir Knights to be in possession of the Order of the Red Cross, and many wanted to get rid of the Red Cross because they wanted to keep harmony between all Sir Knights around the world and allow them to visit. Eventually the Grand Encampment would amend the Constitution with addition of Section XXI which stated:
“A Knight Templar created in a foreign jurisdiction, and who has not received the Order of Red Cross may, at his examination, take the valve and have that order communicated to him and hereafter may be admitted to the Asylum.”
Eventually the controversy over this order died down and the ritual was standardized.

The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross is important as it ties in Ancient Craft Masonry with Chivalric Masonry, the Old Testament with the New Testament. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross reminds us of the important lessons of Truth and we can see that the legend foreshadows the message of Christ when he declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the Life.”


1. Chivalric Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite of Freemasonry: http://www.yorkrite.com/degrees/#3

2. Chivalric Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from Albertus Magnus Commandery #92: http://www.chicagoyorkrite.org/commanderyresearch/ChivalricOrders.html#RedCross

3. Commandery. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite USA: http://www.yorkriteusa.org/commandery.htm

4. Connor, G. C. (1894). Order of the Red Cross. Retrieved from Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor: http://www.sacred-texts.com/mas/shib/shib05.htm

5. Degree. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/degree

6. Scully, F. J. (1952). History of the Grand Encampment Knights Templar of the USA. Greenfield, IN, USA: Wm. Mitchell Printing Co.

7. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar_(Freemasonry)#The_Illustrious_Order_of_the_Red_Cross_.28Order_of_the_Red_Cross.29 

8. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. (n.d.). Retrieved from Rainier Commandery #28: http://rainiercommandery.weebly.com/the-illustrious-order-of-the-red-cross.html

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Priory of Knights of Malta, Part I: Officers

The Order of Malta is the second in the line of succession of Orders of Knighthood conferred by a Commandery of Knights Templar. When the Order of Malta is conferred a Commandery of Knights Templar opens a Priory of Knights of Malta which then confers the Order of Malta along with the preparatory degree, Knight of St. Paul, or the Mediterranean Pass. The officers of the Priory are Prior, Lieutenant Commander, Captain General, Chaplain, Marshal, Captain of Outposts, and Guard.

The Prior is the chief officer of the Priory and is equivalent to the Eminent Commander in the Commandery of Knights Templar. A Prior is a traditional title used to represent a monk or priest who is the head of a religious house or order. This rank is below that of abbot. Prior comes to us from the Latin tongue and is used to mean "former, previous, first, etc." from which it was used to figuratively as "superior (in rank), forefather, and better." The Order of Malta is the first of the Christian Orders conferred in a Commandery of Knights Templar and impresses upon the candidate the importance of faith, and it is interesting to note that the title presiding officer of this group is an ecclesiastical, or religious, one rather than one that denotes a military position.

The second-in-command of the Priory is the Lieutenant Commander. This position corresponds with the Generalissimo in the Commandery. The title "Lieutenant Commander" is a popular position often used in naval units who is ranked below "Commander." A Commander is someone who is in charge of a group of people. This title reminds us that while a high ranking officer, the Lieutenant Commander is still subordinate to the Prior. The word "lieutenant" is rooted in the late 14th century France, and is derived of two words: "lieu" and "tenant." The word "lieu" means "place" and "tenant" means "to hold" so lieutenant was used to mean placeholder, substitute, or deputy; in this context it is referring to someone who is subordinate to a higher authority. The word "commander" is derived from the Latin word "commandare" meaning "to recommend, to entrust, to commit, and to order." His primary duties are to assist the Prior, particularly in the closing of the Priory.

Third in line is the Captain General and corresponds in the Commandery with the same name. He assists the Prior in opening the Priory and leading the opening procession. This title has often been used for military officers, but is also used for gubernatorial reasons. Etymologically the word "captain" comes from the Latin word "capitaneus" meaning "chief" which itself originated from the "caput" meaning "head." General is also rooted in the Latin, from the word "generalis" meaning "inclusive" or "relating to all". This was expanded to an officer holding superiority over others.

Corresponding to the Prelate in the Commandery, the Chaplain is charged with scriptural lessons to the candidate as well as other ritualistic duties. Traditionally a Chaplain is a member of the clergy who is attached to a private chapel, organization, military unit, institution, or society. This title comes from Old French "chapelein" meaning "clergyman" deriving from the Medieval Latin word "cappellanus" meaning the same.

The Marshal is the last of the 5-officers stationed in the East. This officer corresponds to the Senior Warden in the Commandery and Senior Deacon in the Lodge as he is the conductor of the candidates during the ritualistic ceremonies of the Order and is charged with the arrangement of ceremonies. The title Marshal has been used by the military, courts, and other parts of society as someone who is charged arranging and directs "ceremonial aspects of a gathering." Marshall comes from Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from Frankish-Germanic word "marhskalk" meaning "horse-servant." It is interesting to see that the medieval Knights Templar denominated their third-in-command as Marshal was in charge of the troops and advised the Grand Master on all things relative to the war effort. It is also interesting to note that the title "Marshal" is not used in the Commandery of Knights Templar, but the Order of Malta.

Stationed in the West of the Priory in the Captain of the Outpost and whose duty it is to work with the Guard to ensure the security of the Priory. He would correspond in the Commandery with the Warder and the Junior Deacon in the Lodge. An outpost is a "security detachment dispatched by a main body of troops to protect it from enemy surprise." As we saw with the Captain General, captain derives from a Latin word to mean "chief" and the word "outpost" is a combination of "ut" meaning "out, without, or outside" in Old Anglo-Saxon languages and "poste" which is Middle French for a "place where one is stationed."

The last of the listed officers of the Priory is the Guard. This officer sits without the doors of the Priory and corresponds with the Sentinel in the Commandery. He ensures the security of the Priory from without. The word "guard" derives from "garder," an Old French word meaning "to keep, maintain, preserve, or protect."

During the initiation ceremony, there are also banner-man and Knights at the Table in the West, but they are not the assigned officers appropriated to a Priory of Knights of Malta; I will talk about them in future parts of this series though. I find the history of these titles to be fascinating and how Freemasonry has adopted them into the Priory of Knights of Malta.


1. Speidel, F. G. (1978). The York Rite of Freemasonry. Raleigh: Press of Oxford Orphanage.

2. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php 

3. Denslow, R. V. (1951). A Templar Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: www.phoenixmasonry.org/templar_encyclopedia.htm 

4. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/ 

5. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Reference.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/ 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Knights of Malta: Past and Present

Within the Commandery of Knights Templar, there are conferred 3 chivalric orders: the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Temple. The Order of Malta is an order which emphasizes the lesson of faith. The pass degree of the Mediterranean Pass, or Knight of St. Paul prepares the candidate for the Order of Malta by introducing the lesson and example of the faithful martyr of Christianity. After passing through the preparatory degree of the Mediterranean Pass (which surrounds the story of Paul on the island of Malta from which this Order receives its name), the candidate solicits himself to become a member of the Order of Malta. This ceremony teaches the history of the Maltese Order as inheritors of the crusading Knights Hospitaller. The preparatory degree emphasizes the need of faith while the lessons of the Order express examples of love, mercy, and the unfearing and faithful martyrdom of Christianity. The body is called a Priory and the conferral of this order is presided over by a Prior.

It is important to note that the Order of Malta that started in the medieval ages still exists today, but the Order of Malta conferred in the Commandery only commemorates the medieval knights until their time in Malta from which they took their name. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, headquartered in Rome, is the only valid continuation of the medieval Knights Hospitallers and Knights of Malta. There are a variety of different groups who take the name of Order of Malta, but used the name out of inspiration and commemoration. The Masonic order only follows the Knights of Malta until the 16th century with their famous battle against the Ottoman Empire.

The candidate, going through the Masonic Order of Malta, is given only a brief history of the original medieval knighthood. While we Masons commemorate this order it is important to understand the history and see how the order evolved over the years. A proper understanding of history will give us better insight and guidance as men, as Masons, and as Knights.

History of the Order

The common history, covered here, will take us from its legendary founding in the 11th century to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

Today known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, or better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), is a Catholic-based religious order and one of the world's oldest surviving orders of chivalry.

In 623 AD, Abbot Probus was commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to build a hospital to care for and treat pilgrims in the Holy Land. This hospital was enlarged in 800 AD by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, and added a library to it. In 1005, Caliph Al Hakim destroyed this among other Christian buildings in Jerusalem. In 1021, Caliph Ali az-Zahir of Egypt, the Seventh Caliph of the Fātimids, took over governance of the Holy Land. In 1023, he gave permission to merchants from Amalfi (Italy) to rebuild the Hospital in Jerusalem. This hospital was located near the Abbey of St. Mary of the Latins. This hospital was served by Benedictine monks. After the First Crusade, the hospital would be expanded by the efforts of a monk referred to as "Brother Gerard," who is said to have been a native of southern Italy.

On February 15, 1113, the order was formally named the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem and recognized by the Papacy with the issuance of the Papal Bull "Paschal II." There original goal was not militaristic, but only medicinal; it wouldn't be for several decades (circa 1200 AD) that existing documentation shows that knights were being used as escorts for pilgrims as well as in battle against the Saracens. The Knights Hospitallers were originally led by a "Master of the Hospital", but this would change in 1267 to "Grand Master" who was elected to serve for life with the permission of the Pope.

By donation by appreciative patients and the efforts of Gerard, the Hospitallers grew. But, as they grew, so did the number of patients and pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. There was enough demand that the Hospitallers expanded to include a class of knights who would escort and protect pilgrims throughout the Holy Land. Along with the class of knights, the order also employed two others: a chaplain class and infirmary class.

The knights were themselves also again divided into two classes: secular knights and professed knights. The secular knights would only serve for a short period while the professed knights took vows of permanent allegiance to the Hospitaller order. These knights were led by an officer known as a "Marshal." Fighting alongside the knights, but not coming from noble stock were "Turcopeles" and these were supervised by an officer called "Turcopiliers."

The Hospitaller's rivals, the Knights Templar, were known for their famous uniform of a white mantle emblazoned with a red cross. To differentiate themselves, the Hospitallers wore a black mantle with a white cross except in battle when they wore a red mantle with a white cross, which uniform was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1248.

Eventually the Holy Land was lost and the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell to the Muslims led by the Sultan Salah ad-Din (or Saladin), founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187 and the Hospitallers fled to Margat, then to Acre in 1197, which fell in 1291. When Acre fell, the Hospitallers fled to the coastal town of Limassol on the island of Cyprus. Most likely due to the politics of the Kingdom of Cyprus and wishing to be independent, the Grand Master, Guillaume de Villaret, made plans of acquiring the island of Rhodes as their new domain. This island rests just off of what is now Turkey. While Guillaume de Villaret made the plans for Rhodes, it was his successor, Fulkes de Villaret, who executed the plans.

On August 15th, 1309, the island was surrendered to the Knights Hospitallers and essentially came to rule as an independent state with all the rights of privileges that belong to a sovereign state. With the control of Rhodes the knights also gained control of smaller surrounding islands. The acquisition of this island changed the mission and operations of the Knights Hospitaller who also became to be known as the Knights of Rhodes.

There were very few pilgrims on the island, and with the dissolution of the Knights Templar, the order became more militaristic with most of its battles taking place on the sea rather than land. In 1334, the Knights of Rhodes defeated Andronicus III Palaeologus, the Byzantine Emperor, who still claimed to own the island of Rhodes. In 1440, Az-Zahir Sayf ad-Din Jaqmaq, the Sultan of Egypt attempted to attack the Knights of Rhodes, but the island had been strongly fortified so the forces were rebelled and a naval battle followed without either side gaining a decisive victory. This Sultan attacked Rhodes again by siege in 1444, but this ends after 40-days.

On May 29th, 1453, the tides would start to turn against the Knights of Rhodes. On this date, the Ottoman Turks under Mehmed II captured Constantinople. With the Byzantine Empire gone and the Ottoman Empire established the Knights of Rhodes became an important aspect of the security for Christians and merchants in the Mediterranean, particularly against Barbary or Ottoman pirates. It is also said that they committed acts of piracy themselves against Muslim ships and ports, particularly along the North African coastline.

Seeking to unseat the Knights of Rhodes, Mahomet II attacked the island in 1480, but this attack failed. Under the governance of Suleiman (II) the Magnificent, the island was attacked by an armada of around 400 ships and an army composed of around 150,000 men while the Knights of Rhodes consisted of only 7,000 knights. The Knights of Rhodes were able to hold up for 6-months, but their supplies ran out and so on December 22nd, 1522, the knights surrendered to the Ottomans. So impressed by their bravery, Suleiman decided to spare their lives and even had his own ships carry the survivors to Sicily. Due to his valiant conduct and leadership during the siege, and even in the face of defeat, the Grand Master, Philippe de Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, was proclaimed a Defender of the Faith by Pope Adrian VI.

Until 1530, the Knights Hospitallers (or formerly Knights of Rhodes), were homeless. They sought assistance from the monarchs of Europe, but with the loss of the Holy Land and the rise of the Ottoman Empire, no one was willing to listen. Finally in 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V of Spain, with the approval of Pope Clement VIII, gave the order the island of Malta. In return, the knights would have to give an annual payment of a Maltese falcon to the Viceroy of Sicily on All Souls Day. For getting the island, the order promised to resume its previous mission of securing safe passage for Christian merchants through the Mediterranean Sea and fighting back against the Muslim pirates that infested the waters.

It was from this period, that the order would be known as the Order, or Knights, of Malta and started to wear the famous Maltese cross. The 8-points of the cross are said to represent the 8 obligations and aspirations:

Live in Truth
Have Faith
Repent of sins
Give proof of humility
Love justice
Be merciful
Be sincere
Endure persecution
With the acquisition of much of the Templar property and the general growth of the order, the holdings increased and were so organized. They were organized into "tongues" or nations (Aragon, Auvergne, Castile, England, France, Germany, Italy, and Provence). Each of these was supervised by a Prior; if there was more than one priory in the tongue, by a Grand Prior. On the island of Malta, the resident knights of each tongue were headed by a Bailli. Each tongue was divided into Priories who were composed of Bailwicks which were comprised of Commanderies

The return of this order to the Mediterranean and their actions against Muslims enraged Suleiman, who had shown them mercy on Rhodes. He mustered all the strength of the Ottoman Empire that he could afford and set sail for the Maltese archipelago; had the Ottomans taken the island of Malta this would give them a launching point for invasions into Western Europe. He threw his might against the Knights of Malta on May 18th, 1565. The Turks fought with monstrous ferocity, but the knights were able to repel several of their attacks and maintain control over most of the island. By August the Knights numbers were dwindling though. Some knights suggested abandoning the island, but the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette refused to follow such ideas. On the 23rd of August, the Turks attempted, what would be, there last great assault on the Maltese fortifications. The Knights of Malta were able to keep fortifications strong by working day and night, and even the wounded had to sometimes take part in battles. The Ottomans were not spared from the troubles as disease was spreading through the overcrowded quarters and supplies were starting to run short. The morale was also diminishing because of the ability of the Knights to hold off such a stronger Turkish force. Sicilian reinforcements started to arrive in September in Mellieħa Bay. The Ottomans didn't realize that the reinforcements were a small force and retreated on September 8th. This would immortalize the Knights of Malta, but would eventually cause problems for the order.

Once the Ottomans had retreated, it was time to rebuild the cities that had been destroyed. The old capitol city had been destroyed so a new one was erected which was named Valletta in member of the Grand Master who had weathered the Turkish siege.

The Protestant Reformation

Spiritually, the Order of Malta was subservient only the Pope and with the 16th century, came the Protestant Reformation. This Reformation would cause lasting political and religious changes that would affect Europe that are still seen today.

The Protestant Reformation was a movement initially aimed and reforming the Catholic Church, but this was not the first time this occurred. Some like Jon Wycliffe attempted to make reforms and stop what they saw as abuses of power. The Protestant Reformation is formally recognized to have started with the publication of the "95 Theses" by Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk. This publication challenged some of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. This movement spread throughout Europe and the prospects of reforming the church faded so the reformers were forced to separate from the Catholic Church. Many different denominations popped up throughout Europe. In the German states, Lutheranism had become a prominent religion which would cause a rift between the northern and southern German states; Germany would not become a unified state until after Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In Switzerland you see the rise of Calvinism and in England you see the rise of the Anglican Church under the reign of Henry VIII.

Fights between Protestantism, Catholicism, and the Vatican's influence on secular rule (among other things) would lead to the Thirty Years War and to the Peace of Westphalia. The Thirty Years War was one of the most destructive conflicts on the continent and included most of the European powers. Initially sparked over religious practices, it started to turn into a fight between the French and the Hapsburgs. In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia would be signed which resulted in Protestants being allowed to continue religious practices within their state, marked the decline of feudalism, the rise of the Bourbon dynasty, the Hapsburg supremacy stopped, and the decline of influence of the Catholic Church in states by establishing the rights of sovereignty of a state. This would change how states interacted with one another and cause grievances for future wars

It is during this time that Protestant versions of the Order of Malta were established in England, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, and Austria. We also see that monarchs and states that were previously Catholic and were now Protestant stopped giving donations to the Catholic Order of Malta. This is also around the time that the Masons no longer track the history of the Order of Malta. The Protestant Reformation would cause the Order of Malta to lose footing in England and northern Germany, adopt new ways of income, and ultimately their ties to the Catholic Church would spell the end of their time on the island of Malta.

The Post Reformation Era

The Order of Malta continued to operate in the Mediterranean as a counter to the Muslim pirate and merchants. In 1571 combined their fleets with Charles V and several other European powers to attack and devastate the Turkish navy at the Battle of Lepanto. This battle took place on October 7th, 1571, on the northern edge of the Gulf of Corinth (western Greece). This victory would virtually destroy the Ottoman navy and prevent any further spread of the Ottoman Empire into Western Europe.

The Knights of Malta continued to construct fortresses, watch towers, churches, hospitals, and other buildings on the island. The main hospital was massive and also contained schools for studying anatomy, surgery, and pharmacy. As mentioned above, a new capitol named Valletta was started in 1566. It was designed by a military engineer named Francesco Laparelli then finished in 1571 by Ġlormu Cassar. Even with all of these projects, the relationship between the knights and natives were still poor as the latter felt they were treated as second class citizens.

In a time where religious and secular control of the Catholic Church was starting to decline, it is not surprised to see that the Grand Master of the Order of Malta was granted the status of "Prince of the Holy Roman Empire" in 1607, and a few decades later the Grand Master was awarded ecclesiastic equality with cardinals.

Their relative power in the Mediterranean, the victory against the Ottoman Turks in 1565 and 1571, and the dissolution of their rivals, the Templars, seems to have given the Maltese order an inflated ego. Financially they were declining, but this only encouraged them to start plundering and which led to idleness and the practicing of licentious habits. Soon discipline among the ranks degraded and members of the Order started selling their services to other navies for a price; discipline became so degraded that, in 1581, the Grand Master, Jean de la Cassière, was made prisoner by his own knights. The French Navy was the most common destination for Knights of Malta, which is ironic seeing that the French had trade agreements with the Ottoman Empire, the sworn enemy of the Order of Malta. Soon the Order of Malta was accused of committing acts of piracy, even against Christians. The crimes committed by the Knights of Malta would be another nail in their coffin.

The French National Assembly in 1789, by decree, abolished the Order of Malta in France, and, by 1792, the French government seized their assets and propertyThe Order of Malta was headquartered on the island of Malta until June 12th, 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte captured the island during his conquest to Egypt. This may not have been the intent of Napoleon, but the Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim refused to allow Napoleon's ships to enter the Maltese port en mass. He laid siege and captured the island within a day. The Maltese Order was against dispersed. The island was going to be returned to the Order in 1802 with the Treaty of Amiens, but in 1814 the Treaty of Paris gave the island of Malta to the British Empire.

The Order found strong support in Russia, most likely due to the presence it had had in the Imperial Russian Navy. On November 24th, 1798, Paul I, Emperor of Russia, was elected as the new Grand Master, after the abdication of the previous Grand Master. He created an additional Grand Priory to the Roman Catholic one known as "Russian Grand Priory" which dwarfed the rest of the Order. Because of the loss of the Maltese island and the Protestant Reformation, income from European sources had dwindled and most of their income was now coming from Russian. The problem was that Paul's election as Grand Master was never approved by the Papacy, which made Paul the de facto rather than de jure Grand Master of the Order. The Papacy removed the position of Grand Master after the problem over Paul and until 1879 the Order was governed by Lieutenants. The position of Grand Master was restored by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 which he bestowed upon Geschi di Sancta Croce.

It was in 1834, during the time of the Lieutenants, that the Order of Malta was headquartered in Rome. It was here that the original work of the order, hospital work, became their main concern once again; losing their military side except for the traditional attire. In the Crimean War and WWI, they contributed to hospital and relief efforts on a large scale which only intensified during WWII. Today the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) has a presence in over 120-countries, with 12 Grand Priories and Sub-Priories and 47 national Associations, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centers, daycare centers, first aid corps, and specialist foundations. In 1994, SMOM was given the same status as the Red Cross as an Observer Member of the UN.

The Ancient and Masonic Order of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta

The Masonic Order of Malta was most likely introduced into the United States from Scotland or Ireland along with the Order of the Temple. According to Francis J. Scully in his work, "History of the Grand Encampment Knights Templar of the United States of America," stated that:

"The original work of the Knights of Malta was introduced into New England along with the Order of the Temple. In the early years it probably consisted only of a series of questions and answers and the signs of recognition which were communicated to the candidate. Later on, the ritual was revised and elaborated."

Reading through the first volume of this work, he cites J.W.S. Mitchell who stated the following of the Order of Malta:
“The degree, so called of Malta, or St. John of Jerusalem, crept in we suppose, by means of a bungler, who, not knowing enough of the ritual to confer it properly satisfied himself by simply addressing a few words in the ceremony of dubbing; and thus, by the addition of a few signs and words but imperfectly understood, constituted a Knight Templar also a Knight of Malta, and so the matter stands to this day.”
It was through the efforts Sir Knights Thomas Smith-Webb and Henry Fowle that it continued to exist as an appendant Order in America, primarily in Massachusetts. When a national body, now known as the Grand Encampment, was formed in 1816, the Constitution adopted stated that the rule of succession be: “Knight of the Red Cross, Knight Templar and Knight of Malta.” Today it falls second in line in the succession of conferral, but this was not always so. Some thought that it should be a separate degree, some thought it was an appendant order to follow the Order of the Temple, and some thought that one receiving the Order of the Temple was automatically a Knight of Malta as well. Until the 20th century the Order of Malta was a point of contention in American Templary. Debates ensued for years and Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment gave their differing opinions on the matter. In 1865, the Grand Master, Benjamin B. French pushed for the Order of Malta to be second in line of succession, but the special committee on this subject did not want to introduce "new difficulties" so they proposed that "and Knight of Malta" be added. In 1874, the Committee on Digest of Templar Law inferred that the Order of Malta should be conferred as a separate Order. The Grand Master at the time, John Q.A. Fellows, agreed stating, "The true work of the Order is really sublime and accords well with the ceremonies of that of Knights Templar.”

At the 1880 Triennial, the Grand Master Vincent L. Hulburt held an unfavorable view of the Order of Malta when he stated:
“It is not pretended that the Order of Knight Templar and the Order of Knight of Malta bear any historic relation to each other. In origin and purpose they are distinct and dissimilar. Does the Order of the Templar require the adoption of this alien adjunct? Is it so imperfect, so wanting in all the essentials to secure the admiration, the love, and the loyalty of its champions, that it must call in the aid of this foreign elements to give it strength and permanent success? Let the experience of every valiant Sir Knight of this vast convocation furnish the answer. Giving every degree of every grand and order of Masonry all the merit it can justly claim, it remains true that Knight Templarism stands unapproachable and alone, the colossal monument of human aspiration and heroism and faith. Above all the shadows and vapors of our selfish life it rises adorned with all that art, inspired by genius, could contribute; its tablets gleaming with the names that have made its history immortal; its summit, bathed in the prophetic splendor of the dawn and the high noon of consummation, surmounted by the cross, the sign of the invincible spirit and purpose that reared and consecrated, a pledge of final triumph. There is no yearning for human sympathy, no plea for real brotherhood, no prayer for human progress and freedom and ultimate redemption, that does not find an answer here. Let this divine form stand unaided to challenge veneration and worship; let it not be obscured by adventitious props and aids. At most, we should only allow the attributes of the Order of Malta to be conferred, as heretofore; and I trust that the Grand Encampment will plainly and finally declare that the Order of Malta is not required as an adjunct of Templarism.”
Many feared that the Order of Malta being full ceremony may overshadow the ritual of the Order of the Temple. It would take until 1919 for the Order of Malta to be given full recognition as an individual order to be conferred in a Commandery of Knights Templar. So that it didn't eclipse the Order of the Temple certain changes in the ritual were adopted at that Triennial and in 1934 the Constitution was revised to reflect the changes as follows:
“The Orders shall be conferred in the following succession: Red Cross, Knight of Malta, and Knight Templar.”
While the Masonic Order of Malta is not tied to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, we still commemorate a common history, that of the Knights Hospitaller who as we see became known as the Knights of Malta. All Masonic Knights of Malta should remember the allegorical elements and important lessons taught in this Order of Knighthood.


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