Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sights and Places: Grand Lodge of New York

Located in the borough of Manhattan is the Masonic Hall that sits as the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. Today it consists of two buildings: one was built in 1907 (and located at 23rd St. and 6th Ave.) and the other in 1913 (facing 24th St.). This first building was erected over the previous Masonic Hall and was designed by Harry P. Knowles and the rooms were renovated from 1986 to 1996 by Felix Chavez. This building on 23rd St. is composed of a commercial building where rent brings in revenue needed for the upkeep of the building on the 24th St. where Masonic activity occurs.

The Masonic Hall house the Grand Lodge office, Lodge meeting rooms, Grand Lodge meeting rooms, and the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Library and Museum. Blue Lodges along with numerous other Masonic bodies meet in this building.

The Grand Lodge Room is a two-story, auditorium-style room that seats over 1,000 people.

The Renaissance Room, located on the 6th floor, is decorated to look as if the room is carved from stone and gold with murals and frescos.

The Hollander Room is, located on the 6th floor, is a small library-conference room with a famous statue of George Washington sculpted by Brother Bryant Baker, but incorporates Mayan and Incan motifs.

The Ionic Room, located on the 6th floor, is decorated in Mediterranean motif and takes its name from one of the classical orders of architecture.

The Corinthian Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with strong colors with art that has a porcelain appearance, and this room takes its name from another of the classical orders of architecture.

The Jacobean Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with heavy woodwork and medieval motif that would make a knight feel at home.

The Doric Room, located on the 8th floor, is decorated with a Greek motif and takes its name from another of the classical orders of architecture.

The French Ionic Room, located on the 10th floor, is decorated with a French motif that includes oil paintings, busts of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, gold filigree throughout the room, and Ionic columns.

The Colonial Room, located on the 10th floor, is decorated and furnished, as the name implies, with a colonial theme.

The French Doric Room, located on the 10th floor, is also decorated with a French motif, and the walls are lined with Doric columns, but the oil paintings in this room focus more on countryside scenes.

The Empire Room, located on the 12th floor, is decorated with early 19th Century French Neapolitan style with Greek and Roman influences.

The Gothic Room, located on the 12th floor, is modeled after the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, with the blue and white fleur-de-lis design stenciled in the false windows, and carved gargoyles on the ceiling beams.

The Chapter Room is decorated with terracotta colors and an Egyptian theme.

The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library, located on the 14th floor, is one of the world's largest Masonic libraries. According to its website, the Library "has pursued its mission to collect, study and preserve the Masonic heritage, focusing its efforts on the history and impact of Freemasonry in New York State."

I have never been to the Grand Lodge of New York, but this is one of the items on my Masonic Bucket List.


1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library: https://nymasoniclibrary.org/home/

2. Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from Atlas Obscura: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chancellor-robert-r-livingston-masonic-library

3. Dubé, B. (2006, October 18). Masonic Lodge. Retrieved from New York Daily Photo: http://newyorkdailyphoto.com/nydppress/?p=218

4. Elliott, M. (2014, October 15). A Look Inside Manhattan’s Masonic Hall: Grand Lodge of New York. Retrieved from Untapped New York: http://untappedcities.com/2014/10/15/a-look-inside-manhattans-masonic-hall-grand-lodge-of-nyc-photos/

5. Masonic Hall (Manhattan). (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonic_Hall_(Manhattan) 

6. Our Grand Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York: https://nymasons.org/site/grand-lodge/ 

7. Venues. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Hall NYC: https://www.masonichallnyc.org/venues/

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Three Magi

Today is the Epiphany, or the Day of the Three Magi, which marks the end of the Christmas Season as well as commemorates a number of different events in the life of Christ: the revelation to and adoration of the Three Magi, the baptism of Christ by the Baptist, and the miracles at Cana; it is also sometimes known as Theophany meaning "manifestation of God." According to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, three wise men, or magi, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, were visited by an angel who declared the Messiah had been born and these three traveled to Bethlehem, following a star in the sky said to rest over where Jesus was born. When they found the baby Jesus they praised his glory and bestowed the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were respectively symbolic of His royal standing, His divine birth, and His mortality.

The Book of Matthew is the only of the four gospels to mention the Magi. It doesn't mention an exact number, but it is thought to be three due to the three gifts they bring. This number was favored by Origen, St. Leo the Great, and St. Maximus of Turin. In Eastern Christian traditions, it is believed to be twelve Magi not just three. Other depictions display two magi and, in another, four. These magi were said to be kings in regards to Pslam 72:11, "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him." Some suggest that the visitation of the Magi is a fulfilled prophecy by Balaam, a non-Israelite prophet, mentioned in the Book of Numbers. Biblical scholars believe that Isaiah prophecized the gifts given by the Magi.

It wouldn't be until the sixth century that the names Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar were attributed to the visiting magi. The "Excerpta Latina Barbari" refers to them as Bithisarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa. From the "Excerpta et Collectanea", written by the English monk Bede, states that the first magus was named Melchior who was an old man with white hair and a long beard, the second one was Caspar who was young and beardless, and the third was a man with a dark complexion and beard named Balthazar. A Syrian manuscript names them Hormizdah, King of Persia, Yazdegerd, King of Saba, and Perozadh, King of Sheba although some traditions list them as kings of Persia (Melchior), Arabia (Balthazar), and India (Caspar); Syriac Christians named them Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas; Ethiopians named them Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater; and Armenians named them as Kagpha, Badadakharida, and Badadilma. The names Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar stuck due to mosaics of the magi commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian that included these names.

Melchior comes from the Hebrew words meaning "king of light" or "king of splendor" which would coincide with his gift of gold. It is said that he was a king in Persia, but the territory that he ruled over is not known. The name Caspar is derived from the # word "Gaspar" which is itself stemmed from the Chaldean and Hebrew word "Gizbar" which translates as "treasurer." He is said to be a king from India, but the exact area of his kingdom is not known; some suggest southern India while others speculate farther east towards Thailand and the Malaysian peninsula. Balthazar comes from the Babylonian word "Balat-shar-usur" which translates as "save the life of the king" which alludes to his gift of myrrh as it was used for healing purposes in the Far East. Having a name derived from the Babylonians, it is no surprise that he is said to have been a king in Arabia.

From the Bible, we learn that after the Magi visited the Savior, God sent angels to the Magi to warn them not to return to Herod and they left back to their homes. There are many legends about what happened after. One legend states that St. Thomas, who traveled to India, is said to have baptized and ordained them priests 40-years after their visit to the Christ child. This goes with the stories of a 17th-century Portuguese poet named Luis de Camoes who identified the magi as Indian Brahmins. Another legend is that in 54 AD, the Magi met at Sewa (now Sebaste in Armenia) to celebrate Christmas. The following month they each died: Melchior on January 1, Balthazar on January 6, and Caspar on January 11. How they each died, but tradition holds that they were all martyred which would make sense of the fact that they all died within days of each other. Their relics are said to be housed in Cologne after being taken there by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany in 1162 AD.


Balthazar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Etymology Online: https://www.etymonline.com/word/balthazar 

Balthazar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balthazar_(magus) 

Landau, B. (n.d.). The Magi. Retrieved from Bible Odyssey: https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/passages/related-articles/magi 

Longenecker, D. (2018, January 2). Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior? Where Did That Come From? Retrieved from Standing on my Head: https://dwightlongenecker.com/caspar-balthasar-and-melchior-where-did-that-come-from/ 

Magi. (2020, December 9). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Magi 

Melchior. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melchior_(magus) 

Melchior Name History. (2013). Retrieved from Ancestry.com: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=melchior#:~:text=German%2C%20Danish%2C%20Dutch%2C%20Spanish,to%20one%20of%20the%20Magi. 

Saint Caspar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Caspar 

Saunders, W. (n.d.). The Magi. Retrieved from Catholic Education Resource Center: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-magi.html 

Sebothoma, M. (2017, July 31). Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar? Retrieved from The Southern Cross: https://www.scross.co.za/2008/11/balthasar-melchior-and-gaspar/ 

Zielinski, E. (2020, June 23). Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh - The Truth About Their Significance. Retrieved from Natural Living Family: https://naturallivingfamily.com/gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/