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."


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