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Degree of St Lawrence the Martyr
The Degree was designed to commemorate the martyrdom of the Saint in Rome in the middle of the
third century AD, and teaches the lessons of fortitude and humility.
It is recorded that the Degree has been worked in its present form for over two centuries in Lancashire and Yorkshire. It's been suggested
that it was originally a piece of old Operative ritual, intended to distinguish a genuine Craftsman from the "new-fangled" Speculatives when
they started to join Craft Lodges.
The Degree of St Lawrence the Martyr is the administrative Degree of a Council. The Master of a Council is elected in a Lodge of St Lawrence,
it is the only Installation Ceremony practiced in the Order, and thus becomes the Master of the Council. At every meeting of a Council a
Lodge of St Lawrence must be opened and closed. A Lodge or Council of any of the other four Degrees is opened and closed only when the
Ceremony of Admission in that Degree is worked.
A Lodge of St Lawrence is arranged like a Craft Lodge, but without candles or Wardens' columns. A Gridiron is placed on the VSL, but the
Square and Compasses are not used. Officers are the same as for a Craft Lodge. A candidate in this degree is said to be “Introduced, Received
and Admitted as a Brother of St. Lawrence.
The remaining four degrees may be taken over any timescale in any order and in any council.
Degree of the Knights of Constantinople :
This relates to Constantine and is what was referred to as a “side degree” which would be
conferred by a brother following a Craft Lodge meeting with a simple obligation and entrustment. The origin of the Degree is not known, but
from the strong flavour of Operative influence in the ritual it may be supposed that it arose during the transition from Operative to
Speculative Masonry. It is known to have been worked in America in 1831 and may have been taken there by a military Lodge. A Candidate in
this degree is said to be “Admitted”.
The Degree teaches the useful lessons of humility and universal equality.
Degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon:
This Degree has a legend similar to that of the Cryptic Degree of Select Master, but with interesting variations, in particular with respect to the period of the occurrences. It has also much in common with the Degree of Intimate Secretary (6° of the Ancient and Accepted Rite). It is known to have been worked in the USA since about 1761 but has not been traced with certainty as having been worked in England before 1893. The Degree warns of the great danger of carelessness and of hasty judgment and teaches the importance of careful tiling. The Lodge represents a vaulted chamber in the bowels of the earth beneath the site of King Solomon's Temple. A candidate in this Degree is said to be "admitted into the Degree of Masons Elect of Twenty-Seven and created a Grand Tiler of Solomon".
The Red Cross of Babylon:
The Degree was one of the four Ceremonies which the Grand Council originally took under its control. This, the most profoundly mystical of the Allied Masonic Degrees, is of considerable antiquity. Its three Parts or Points have descended from three of the degrees of Rites worked in the mid-eighteenth century. The Degree has a complicated, but interesting, history and seems to be linked to many other Degrees in differing Constitutions. The Degree of the Red Cross of Babylon teaches us to keep inviolate our Masonic secrets and to withstand all temptations to reveal them, however profitable those temptations may be. It emphasises the importance of Fidelity, Integrity, and Truth. It is symbolic of the passage of an upright man from struggles overtime in this world to well-earned honour in the next.
The Holy Order of the Grand High Priest :
The Holy Order of Grand High Priest, which has been worked extensively in Lancashire and
Yorkshire and various other parts of England under the banner of certain Antient Lodges, was one of the four ceremonies which the Grand
Council then took under its control. Both in this country and in the US it has always been designated an "Order"; that title, instead of
Degree, has been preserved.
Almost everywhere the Order has been closely associated with Royal Arch Masonry. Under the original Constitutions of the Grand Council, no
Brother could be admitted to the Order unless he was an Installed Principal of a Royal Arch Chapter. This limitation was removed in 1934 to
any Royal Arch Mason. Members of the Order, whether or not Installed Principals, are still designated "Excellent Companions".
The Order carries members to a high realm of Masonic thought. The Companion who is admitted to it is left in no doubt that he is set apart
for high duties and responsibilities in life, both as a Mason and as a man. He is taught that, to carry them out, he is called upon to
dedicate himself to the service of the Most High God and also to that of his fellow-men. A Candidate is said to be “Admitted and Anointed,
Consecrated and Set Apart to the Holy Office of Grand Priest”.