Masonic Knights Templarism
Freemasonry has, since its formal inception with the uniting
of four London based lodges in 1717, sought an answer for its
roots in history. The speculations have been as varied as the
Freemasons who have offered them. Among the speculations have
been the Masons of Ancient Egypt, The Roman Building Guilds,
Solomon's workmen and a host of others.
In the early 1700s a new theory was presented for Masonic
history and that was, that the Freemasons began in the medieval
deserts of the Levant with the Crusaders and Knights Templar.
The responsibility for this theory lies with two different men,
Andrew Michael Ramsay and the German Baron Karl Von Hundt. For a
detailed account of the Ramsay Oration and latterly Von Hundt's
Rite of Strict Observance Masonry, see the article in this
section of the site, entitled, "Do the Templars Still Exist?"
This set of speculation whether grounded in fact or merely
wishful thinking on the part of the Fraternity, has met with
acceptance by many Freemasons world wide. By the same token many
Freemasons have rejected it as inaccurate.
Regardless of ones acceptance or rejection, it cannot be
argued that Masonry does carry within its side degrees a form of
Masonic Templarism. While the Scottish Rite contains a degree
revolving around the Templars, this page will deal with York
Rite Templarism. The Degrees of the Knight Templars are:
- Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
- Order of Malta
- Order of the Temple - Knights Templar
The Chivalric Orders
The Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
The first order conferred in the chivalric system is the
Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and the story contained
within predates the era of the crusades. The candidate
represents Zerubbabel - who is well familiar to the Royal Arch
Mason - who, at the time of King Darius. Zerubbabel visits the
king in order to convince him of his commitment to the Jewish
people and in the process is asked to take part in a debate over
which has greatest sway in the kingdom - wine, women or the
king. The end result of the debate being the candidate offering
a fourth option and an excellent argument is made on the power
The Order of Malta
This is the first of the Christian Orders contained in the
Chivalric system and relates the story of St. Paul's arrival on
the island of Melita which we know today as Malta. In the next
portion of the order the history of the Knights of St. John
(Knights of Malta) is explained and the periods of the orders
history is paralleled with the birth, life, death, resurrection
and ascension of Jesus Christ. While Freemasonry often comes
under attack by fundamentalists who view it as unchristian, the
candidate for admission into this Christian order can offer
clear argument to the contrary.
The Order of the Temple
The Order of the Temple of Knights Templar Order is the most
beautiful in the series. The order is broken into three
These portions are sometimes conferred together but more
often done on two or three separate occasions. During the
ceremonies the candidate represents a knight of the era that
succeeded the Crusades and vowed to visit the Holy Sepulcher. As
a trial of his worthiness he must make a pilgrimage for seven
years in the direction of the Holy Sepulcher. After having
served six years of preparation he is commanded to devote the
remaining year of preparation to penance. The ritual teaches
beautiful lessons on the death and ascension of Christ our
Savior and the candidate is at last received into full
fellowship, in the most solemn manner.
It is important to note that in Canada and the United States
there are some differences to the Orders, but essentially they
follow the above model.
A Potential Candidate for Masonic Templarism, must be a
member of the Craft Lodge. In some jurisdictions it is required
that the potential member must be a member of a Royal Arch
Chapter and/or also be a member of the Cryptic Rite.
Unlike most branches of Freemasonry, wherein the Candidate
need not follow a particular faith, the Chivalric Orders of
Masonry require a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity.
That is to say they must profess a faith in Christianity.
History Of The Order In North America
The first Templar to be initiated in the United States was
William Davis who was given the degrees of Excellent, Super
Excellent, Royal Arch, and Knight Templar by the St. Andrew's
Royal Arch Lodge on August 28th, 1769. Davis owned an apothecary
business in Boston, but is perhaps most noted for his efforts at
the Battle of Bunker Hill. Here it was Davis who suggested the
"Barrel Defense" in which Barrels full of earth and stone were
rolled down on the attacking units.
Of course other Revolutionary War notables would be invested
with the honour of being Knights Templar, among them Paul Revere
who was initiated on December 11th, 1769. Latterly, on May 14th
1770, Joseph Warren another Revolutionary War hero would add his
name to the roster of early American Templars.
In Canada the first Provincial Grand Conclave was organized
in 1855 under the direction of Colonel William James Curry
McLeod Moore who took the role of Provincial Grand Commander.
Thirteen years later the first Grand Priory was formed as the
Grand Priory of the dominion of Canada and once again Colonel
McLeod Moore would take the helm as Canada's first Grand Prior.
Today the order encompasses all of Canada and goes by the
name of The Sovereign Great Priory of Canada of the United
Religious and Military Orders of St. John of Jerusalem,
Palestine, Rhodes and Malta, and of the Temple.
Unlike the US where individuals bodies are referred to as
Commanderies and the principle officer is called a Commander, in
Canada these bodies are called Preceptories and the principal
officer is the Presiding Preceptor. Generally Preceptories and
Commanderies alike will take the name of a key player in Templar
or medieval history, for example King Baldwin Preceptory Number
6 or Hughes de Payens Commandry Number 12.
(The above article is an extract from a
History Website. Long experience has taught me that websites
come and go and, rather than sending you off to a 'defunct'
website, I prefer to copy the relevant content to my own site
while giving full credit to the source. I have made some
changes to the text to reflect the conditions of membership
required in our jurisdiction and assume full responsibility for