Thursday, June 22, 2023

St. Alban

Today is the Feast Day of St. Alban, the Patron Saint of converts, refugees, and torture victims, is considered the first British Christian martyr, and, in some theories, is the founder of Freemasonry in England.

He lived sometime between the 3rd and 4th centuries, but the exact dates are debated among scholars. Some believed he died during the time of Diocletian while others believe that he died during the reign of Septimus Severus (a full century earlier) who would have been in England around this likely time of death of St. Alban. Other scholars have given a date between 251 and 259 AD as another possibility.

According to legend, Alban was a pagan Roman soldier who gave refuge to a Christian priest named Amphibalus who was fleeing persecutors. It is said that while hiding this priest he converted to Christianity as it is said he was impressed by the faith and piety of the Priest. When his house was to be searched, he donned the priest’s robes to take his place and allow the Priest to escape. When the Roman magistrate discovered Alban was not the priest, Alban was given a choice: comply with the pagan rites or be executed. Alban responded with:

"I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things."

Alban was then whipped, but Alban endured it. The Judge then ordered Alban to be taken to the top of a hill and beheaded. To get to the hill they had to cross a swift-running river (thought to be the “River Ver”) and the closest bridge was impassible due to protestors condemning Alban’s punishments. Alban looked to the heavens and a part of the river dried up to allow safe passage across. Such a show of power caused one of the executioners to throw down his weapons and ask to be executed alongside St. Alban. They were taken to the hill and before he was killed, Alban prayed for water to slake his thirst whereupon water sprang from the hill at his feet. It was here that he was beheaded. It is believed he was killed at the top of a hill near Verulamium (now known as St. Albans). This hill is now called Holywell Hill which was said to be a beautiful place.

Immediately after striking the fatal blow, the executioner’s eyes popped out of his head. It is believed that God so punished him so he could not rejoice over St. Alban’s death. Some legends state that the spring of water sprouted from where his head rolled to.

Some documents state that the Priest learned of Alban’s arrest and turned himself in, and was subsequently executed. Other legends state that the Judge ceased all persecutions in the region after learning of the miracles stemming from St. Alban’s torture and execution.

A Cathedral now stands where it is thought that he was executed and a well is at the bottom of Holywell Hill. The town of St. Alban’s (then Verulamium) became a cult center for the veneration of St. Alban

St. Alban’s in England is a popular pilgrimage for Christians and the name “Alban” was brought across to the US where many cities are named after him (i.e. Albany, NY). Such is his influence in England that many have considered him as a replacement for the Patron Saint of England as St. George never lived in England. In Switzerland, the largest annual festival is “Albanifest”. The Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC is located on Mount St. Alban.

As a Christian martyr, St. Alban demonstrated the power of faith in the face of persecution as well as the power of charity and hospitality, even to strangers and refugees.

In Masonic lore, a document called the Matthew Cooke Manuscript mentions a St. Alban who “loved well masons, and he gave them first their charges and manners first in England.” This manuscript is the oldest of a class of about one hundred early documents known as Freemasonry's Gothic Constitutions, and the second oldest known manuscript in Masonic history. The Cooke manuscript then goes on to discuss the legend of King Athelstan and Freemasonry. This legend was preserved in all the succeeding manuscript Constitutions until they were still further altered and enlarged by Anderson, Preston, and other Masonic historians of the last century.

The Regius Poem is one of the most famous manuscripts about early Freemasonry in medieval England, but does not mention St. Alban. The Krause Manuscript (c.a 18th century) where St. Amphibalus (the priest St. Alban helped) is described as a teacher to St. Alban; it is thought that the St. Adhabell mentioned in Cooke is a bastardization of St. Amphibalus. Some legends concerning these two state that St. Alban was in Rome to serve in the Army, but returned to England after his tour was complete. On his return home, he was accompanied by St. Amphibalus. In this story, Amphibalus fled from persecution to Alban not out of chance, but because they were already friends. During their friendship, Amphibalus is said to have converted him to Christianity, and where Alban created his regulations of the Craft. The story would evolve from the Cooke Manuscript to the Krause Manuscript and Dowland Manuscript.

Another Masonic source states that St. Alban was employed by the household of Carausius who revolted against the Roman Emperor Maximilian and declared themselves Emperors in England. Carausius is said to have put Alban in charge of building the walls and serving as Superintendent of the Craft. Some have declared him to be the Founder of Freemasonry in England and that St. Alban was made Grand Master. Whether this legend is true or not, the art of Masonry was introduced to England through the Romans and their artificers which may have included St. Alban. This legend of St. Alban with Masonry was perpetuated by Dr. Anderson in the second edition of his Constitutions of Freemasonry. The fog of time has clouded the research into St. Alban and his relationship to the Craft, but it does merit further research.

Today, there are about two dozen Masonic lodges around the world named for St. Alban.


1. Dawkins, P. (n.d.). The Two St. Albans. Francis Bacon Research Trust. 

2. Feast of St. Alban. (n.d.). Retrieved from Episcopal Church of St. Alban: 

3. Haywood, H. L. (n.d.). Matthew Cooke Manuscript. Retrieved from Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon: 

4. Mackey, A. (n.d.). The Legend of St. Alban. In The History of Freemasonry. 

5. Saint Alban. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: 

6. Saint Alban. (n.d.). Retrieved from New World Encyclopedia: 

7. St. Alban. (n.d.). Retrieved from Catholic News Agency: 

8. The Legend of St. Alban. (n.d.). Retrieved from St. Alban's Lodge No. 1455:

Friday, June 9, 2023

Idaho Brotherhood Night

Every year the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Idaho attends a function in Manhattan hosted by James W. Husted-Fiat Lux Lodge No.1068 and officers of the Grand Lodge of New York. So what started this? Why is the Grand Master of Idaho visiting a subordinate Lodge in New York? Why is a New York Lodge having an event called "Idaho Brotherhood Night"?

Well, it goes back a few years to the 1930s and the events leading to WWII. In 1933, Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor and, after the death of President Hindenburg in 1934, took complete dictatorial power over Germany. In 1935, Nazi Germany started targeting certain groups such as Jews, Communists, gypsies, mentally and physically disabled people, the intelligencia, and even Freemasons. In March 1938, Nazi Germany invaded and annexed Austria. In March of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. As a result, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, declared war on Germany and officially kicked off WWII.

Now, stepping back to 1937 in the United States, Bro. George Briggs, Grand Representative of Idaho for the Grand Lodge of New York, taking his job seriously, invited M.W.Bro. William H. Thompson, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Idaho (1936-1937), to James W. Husted-Fiat Lux Lodge No.1068 (then Lux Lodge No. 1079) in New York while they were both in Washington DC for a conference. To his delight and as an honor to his Lodge, the Grand Master acquiesced his request and received an amazing welcome during his visit. While Idaho and New York had a unique connection, it wasn't quite solidified.

At the 70th Annual Communication, M.W.Bro William H. Thompson condemned the Nazi regime and the deplorable treatment many faced. At the 71st Annual Communication (1938) of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho, M.W.Bro. Curtis F. Pike (PGM 1913-1914), the then Grand Secretary of Idaho, spoke out against the actions of Nazi Germany:

“During the past year, we contributed our might to the relief of our Masonic brethren who have been exiled from their homes by decree of the dictator of Germany. 300 Masons and their families are stranded in Switzerland. Driven from their homes in Vienna like wild boars, like wild geese in Switzerland in the forest. And for what reason. We venture to guess they were among the best citizens of Austria. Measured by all the proper standards of citizenship. Here in America and elsewhere, under the flags of liberal governments, masons are looked upon as most desirable citizens, we select them for positions of honor and leadership.”

The Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho would further condemn the cruel actions of Nazi Germany. Bro. Briggs, as Grand Representative to Idaho, read the proceedings and it gave him even more incentive to continue to invite the Grand Masters of Idaho to NY as Fiat Lux Lodge was composed predominantly of Jewish men. Thus a lasting friendship was established that has existed ever since.

According to M.W.Bro. G. Arthur Shoemaker, Past Grand Master of Idaho (2014-2015):

"That statement was NOT politically correct or in line with the popular sentiment at the time when it was given. Idaho was proven to be correct in our statement. This points out that as Masons we should not just follow the crowd or do what is popular. We need to think about what we are doing and do what is right even if the cost is high."

According to Bro. John Robinson, a member of James W. Husted-Fiat Lux lodge Lodge No.1068, said it best:

"It has come to represent the duty we masons here assert; what is right, to speak when others are silent and to do the right thing. This is embodied so well by the actions of our Idaho brothers who held up a light to push back the darkness as the world prepared for war."

The trip for the Grand Master usually consists of touring NYC including the Grand Lodge of New York building as well as a banquet/dinner and program at the Lodge. The Grand Master of Idaho is made an honorary member of James W. Husted-Fiat Lux No.1068. Nearly every Grand Master of Idaho has made the annual trip during their tenure, but due to a number of reasons (like Covid), some may visit in another year along with another Grand Master.

Idaho Brotherhood Night was once described during the 2010 visitation as thus:

"The relationship between a Grand Lodge nestled in the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains and a Lodge ensconced in the concrete canyons of Manhattan may seem strange at first glance, but the relationship is strong and heartfelt, and reflects Masonic Brotherhood at its finest."

May the friendship between these two jurisdictions never waiver and remain steadfast.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Grand York Rite of Montana

Today was my last official visit as Deputy General Grand High Priest of the Northwest Region for the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International. Thursday, the Department Commander, his wife, and I drove up from Idaho, and had dinner with the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar USA.

Friday morning started with the Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Montana followed by the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar of Montana. Friday night, a banquet was held where several Companions and Sir Knights received well-deserved awards.

This morning, the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Montana met and I had the pleasure of representing the General Grand High Priest. I congratulate the Jr. Past Grand High Priest on a tough year. I wish the best for the newly installed Grand High Priest, a good friend of mine.

I'm now sitting in the Billings airport on my way to a work trip that will keep me on the road for the next three weeks.