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: 

2. Knight Crusaders of the Cross of South Carolina. (2008). Retrieved from Grand York Rite of South Carolina: 

3. The "Chair Degrees" of York Rite masonry. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite of Freemasonry:

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 who 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 coming to us from the 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 the old French word "palais" meaning "palace or court" which stemmed from the Medieval Latin "palacium" and originating the Latin word "palatiummeaning the same. "Palatium" was most likely inspired by 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 from the Latin tongue that we find the etymological definition of infantry whereby we see it derives 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 strengthens 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" comes to us from Germanic languages; "Heh" (Anglian), "heah" (West Saxon), and haukhaz (Proto-Germanic) translates as "of great height, lofty, tall, exalted, high-class." The 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 a 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:

2. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary:

3. Denslow, R. V. (1951). A Templar Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry:

4. Connor, G. C. (1894). Order of the Red Cross. Retrieved from Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor:

5. Tierney, J. (1911). The High Priest. New York: Robert Appleton Company. (August 13, 2014 ).

6. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster:

7. Macoy, R. (1867). The Masonic Manual. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry:

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 Zerubbabel 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 upon Truth, and confers it upon Zerubbabel. This legend is based upon the accounts found in the Book of II Esdras in the Apocrypha 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 to 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 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 that 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 No.1 on August 1, 1783, and which associated 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 are 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 of St. Andrews. This group would reorganize into the "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 the 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:

2. Chivalric Orders. (n.d.). Retrieved from Albertus Magnus Commandery No.92:

3. Commandery. (n.d.). Retrieved from York Rite USA:

4. Connor, G. C. (1894). Order of the Red Cross. Retrieved from Shibboleth: A Templar Monitor:

5. Degree. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster dictionary:

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: 

8. The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross. (n.d.). Retrieved from Rainier Commandery No.28:

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 the 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 that are 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 late 14th century France, and is derived from two words: "lieu" and "tenant." The word "lieu" means "place" and "tenant" means "to hold" so lieutenant was used to meaning 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 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 the Old French word "mareschal" meaning "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" which is derived from the 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 in 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: 

3. Denslow, R. V. (1951). A Templar Encyclopedia. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: 

4. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: 

5. Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from