Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!
V. S. L., THE.
If the germs of what later grew into Speculative Freemasonry was the thought and work of the discoverers and builders of the Gothic style of architecture, Freemasonry began in the Twelfth Century. The Bible at that time was almost an unknown book. Scribes in monasteries made copies of it by hand on prepared skins cut into long strips; but considering the size and population of Europe (it is estimated that France's population then was about what it has been in the Twentieth Century) these scribes were few in number. Copying by hand was so slow and expensive that no more than small portions of the Book were copied, except in extraordinary circumstances, and even then it would be little more than the Gospels. A complete Bible, what few there were, was worth as much as a castle.
The Bible had been translated from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek (or possibly Aramaic) New Testament into Latin by St. Jerome about 400 A.D. with the assistance of a corps of Hebrew Rabbis, and philologists, and Greek scholars. By the Twelfth Century the Roman Latin had long since been a dead language; only learned men knew it, but few even of them could read Jerome's Latin because Medieval Latin had become corrupted almost out of recognition (in the Vatican now only a few specialists are experts at it), and fewer still of this small group ever saw a complete edition of the Bible. Millions of the common people did not know of the existence of such a book.
A clear and wide distinction is now made between the Canon (39 Old Testament books and the 27 New Testament books) and other ancient writings about the same subjects and characters as are found in those Canonical books; in Medieval times not even the Popes made that distinction; the story for example, of the death of the Virgin Mary which some unknown author wrote from one of the folktales current in his day and in which the Apostles, living and dead, were brought through the air from heaven and from as far away as India to help carry her body to paradise, and called Assumption of the Virgin, was Placed on the same level as the Gospels and St. Paul's Epistles. (At the present moment the Roman Curch is considering making that story an official dogma.) The word "Scriptures," or " Writings," was a name given loosely to an undefined number of old manuscripts.
Laymen seldom had opportunity to read any portion of the Scriptures; they were forbidden to try to understand them for themselves. Very few priests could read; even among the Bishops were many who could not sign their own names. Nearly everything the populace knew of Bible stories they got from preaching friars, or the occasional short sermons of a priest, or from popular tales.
The cathedrals were covered within and without by sculptures, carvings, pictures, and stained glass de signs of religious subjects; it was because they thus gave the people an opportunity to see sacred person ages and stories that the buildings had such a hold on men and women who could not read or write, and had no Bible to read if they could; and gave rise to the saying that the Cathedrals were the Bible in stone.
But that Bible also consisted of those legends and myths (Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha) which had floated about for centuries, and not in the official Canon. It is certain therefore that early Operative Masons did not have " the Bible on the Altar "; there was no Bible for them to have; they would not have been permitted to use it if there had been one; they could not have based any doctrines of their own on it because that would have been heresy—the textr of the Writings, pictures based on them, rites and ceremonies perpetuating them, were forbidden to the laity because they were a monopoly owned by the priests and guaranteed to them by both the Church and the State.
By the middle of the Fourteenth Century the great majority of men and women continued to be illiterate (as they continue to be over large areas of Eastern and Southeastern Europe) but the number of men able to read, at least a little, had much increased; among these the most popular works of information were books of a kind no longer published, called polychronicons, or universal histories.
Into such a work the original author poured any scrap of information he could find, legends of unicorns, hymns to the Trinity, stories of battles, on down to recent local everits and recipes for whooping-cough; as the decades passed succeeding scribes cast more scrap upon this literary dolmen until the whole omnium gatherum might grow to ten or twelve volumes. It was from such a polychronicon, and from a few other books of a similar sort, that the author of the original version of the Old Charges (Masonic Constitutions) drew the Biblical references and religious stories which he incorporated in his " legend of the Craft, " tales about Adam, Noah, Tubalcain, Cain, Abel, Babylon, Solomon, etc.
This means that at about 1350 the Biblical elements in Freemasonry had come not directly from the Bible but from, first, the floating and oral stories of the Twelfth Century; second, from the sculptures and pictures of religious buildings; third, from those same traditions and legends as they were written down by the authors of the polychronicons, etc.
The printing of the Bible in the Fifteenth Century made little change because the first Bibles were so expensive that only the more wealthy of the churches and abbeys could afford one, and they kept them chained and padlocked. It was not until mechanical inventions enabled publishers to put cheap Bibles on the market that the rank and file of ordinary men began to read it—in reality it was then that they discovered it because until then it had been a so closely guarded monopoly of the priests that laymen heard only isolated scraps read in the church services, and it was only by gossip or rumor that they knew of the whole of it. When these cheap Bibles were filled up with pictures everybody began to read it; the whole of Britain was swept with an enthusiasm for it.
This included the Freemasons; and it is probable that the first Biblical elements introduced into the Ritual direetly from the Bible itself were introduced at that tirne. The Temple became the "building," Hiram became the architect; the two pillars were no longer the pillars in the Legend of the Craft, but the Great Pillars, J and B. which stood in front of the Temple; etc.
It is almost solely from early Lodge Minutes (1717-1750 circa) that we have any data to show how the Bible, once absent from the Lodge Room, came to occupy the center of it, open on the altar. The data consists of occasional entries, found infrequently here and there, consisting sometimes of nothing more than two or three words or a date. When pieced together they give us a picture of what probably occurred, but it is a composite picture, and may not be true in detail of any given Lodge. There was a pedestal in front of the Master; on it was a copy of the Old Charges, flanked by three candles; a Candidate took his OB.-. "on" the Old Charges, and some portions of them were read or recited to him. The Old Charges were the Book of the Law, because they contained the Old Regulations in their prototypic form.
One Lodge after another purchased a Bible, or was presented with one. Chaplains came into use. At first the Bible probably was used partly as a reference book (especially the O. T. Book of Kings with its description of the Temple) and partly as a source of some of the more religious of the ceremonies. Gradually, the Bible replaced the O!d Charges; the pedestal became an altar; the use of the Old Charges was discontinued. Since the Old Charges was the Book of the Law the Bible came to be called The Volume of the Sacred Law. There is no evidence that it was adopted for religious purposes; the Lodge did not become a churchit adopted no creed, and made no theological tests, the Scriptures as a book of religion was left to the churches, and was used in the Lodges to give sanction to the OB.-., the most binding sanction known (witness a like use in courts).
After the Holy Bible had been used as a V. S. L. for a century, Christians in a number of Lodges began to argue that Freemasonry is a Christian society, and should accept only Christians into its membership. 13ut the Grand Lodge of England could find no such Landmark and in a number of decisions or edicts officially approved the acceptance of Jews, of nonprofessing members, forbade theological tests, and in the Far East permitted Lodges to use as the V. S. L. a copy of the Old Testament or the Koran, or the Vedas, or the Zend Avesta, or the Confucian Analects, etc.
Nor was the Bible taken to be a Protestant book; three Grand Masters were Roman Catholics, and until after 1800 many Roman Catholics held membership in Europe, Scotland, and Ireland. American Grand Lodges without exception have adhered to that same Landmark. It is not that Freemasonry is either opposed to or in favor of religion and theology; it is only that religion and theology are outside its province, and in the same sense, and for the same reasons, that they are outside the Constitutions of the American States (48 of them) and of the American National Government.
A word used in the advanced Degrees. Barruel, Robison, and the other detractors of Freemasonry, have sought to find in this word a proof of the vindictive character of the Institution. "In the degree of Kadosh," says Barruel (Memoires ii, page 310), "the asssassin of Adoniram becomes the King, who must be slain to avenge the Grand Master Molay and the Order of Masons, who are the succesors of the Templars." No calumny was ever fabricated with so little pretension to truth for its foundation. The reference is altogether historical; it is the record of the punishment which followed a crime, not an incentive to revenge.
The word Nekam is used in Freemasonry in precisely the same sense in which it is employed by the Prophet Jeremiah (1, 15) when he speaks of nikemvat Jehovah, the vengeance of the Lord—the punishment which God will infliet on evil-doers. The word is used symbolically to express the universally recognized doctrine that crime will inevitably be followed by its penal consequences. It is the dogma of all true religions; for if virtue and vice entailed the same result, there would be no incentive to the one and no restraint from the other.
VEREIN DEUTSCHER FREIMAURER.
Established at Potsdam, Germany, on May 19, 1861, this Association of German Freemasons was organized to labor for the development and promotion of Masonic ideals, to further the demands of Masonic Knowledge, encourage the activity of Lodges, and exercise benevolence and charity. Any member of a recognized Masonic Lodge could become a member on application and by payment of the yearly subscription he receives the journal, Zwanglosen Mitteilungen, every second month. This progressive Body has been a popular enterprise whose interests were judiciously fostered for many years by the President, Dr. Diedrich Bischoff, and the Secretary in Charge, Dr. J. C. Schwabe, both of Leipzig, Germany (see Union of German Freemasons).
An officer ill a Council of Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, whose duties are similar to those of a Senior Deacon in a Symbolic Lodge.
The Latin for Truth, a significant word in Templar Freemasonry (see Truth).
A Charter was issued November 10, 1781, for a Lodge to be instituted at Springfield, Vermont, but as meetings were held instead at Charlestown, New Hampshire, a plan was evolved to divide into two Lodges. A second Charter was applied for and granted February 2, 1788, to Faithful Lodge at Charlestown. The first Lodge then moved to Springfield and on May 14, 1795, it received permission to hold its meetings for the future at Windsor. September 19, 1831, work ceased owing to the Anti Masonic excitement until January 10, 1850, when the Lodge was revived and its present Charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of Vermont.
On January 30, 1799, a Warrant was issued for a Mark Master Masons Lodge at Bennington. March 25, 1805, a Dispensation was granted to Jerusalem Chapter at Vergennes and a Charter on February 5, 1806. The General Grand Chapter on January 9,1806, recognized the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Vermont as a constituent Body. The last communication of this Grand Lodge was held in 1832 and, owing to the Morgan trouble, there was too much opposition to the Craft for it to be reorganized until 1847. The first Council in Vermont was established by Companion Cross at Windsor, July 5, 1817. The Charter dated August 13, l817, still exists and is claimed by Companion Drummond to be that of the first permanent Body of Select Masters. A reorganization of this and the other Councils in Vermont took place in 1849 after the cessation of the Anti Masonic movement, and four of them organized a Grand Council, August 10, 1854, which in 1877 united with the General Grand Council.
Vermont Encampment at Windsor was chartered February23, 1821. On June 1, 1824, Sir Henry Fowle, Deputy General Grand Master, issued a Warrant for the formation of the Grand Encamps ment of Vermont which was constituted on June 17. On Oetober 12, 1831, the last session was held. At the time there were four constituent Commanderies, namely, Vermont; Green Mountain, No. 2; Mount Calvary, No. 3, and La Fayette. In December, 1850, authority for a Grand Commandery of Vermont was given to three Commanderies: Mount Calvary, LaFayette, and Burlington, and it was revived January 14, 1852.
The Haswell Lodge of Perfection, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, was chartered at Burlington on June 17, 1870. The Joseph W. Roby Council of Princes of Jerusalem and the Delta Chapter of Rose Croix were granted Charters on November 13, 1873, and the Vermont Consistory on August 19, 1874.
VERNHES, J. F.
A French litterateur and Masonic writer, who was in 1821 the Venerable of the Lodge la Parfaite Humanité, or Perfect Humanity, at Montpellier. He wrote an Essai sur l'Histoire de la Franche-Maçonnerie, depais son étublissement jusqu.'à nos jours, or Essay on the History of Freemasonry since its Establishment up to our days, Paris, 1813; and Le Parfait Maçon ou Répertoire complet de la Maçonnerie Symbolique, or The Perfect Mason or Complete Repository of Symbolic Masonry. This work was published at Montpellier, in 1820, in six numbers, of which the sixth was republished the next year, with the title of Apologie des Maçons. It contained a calm and rational refutation of several works which had been written against Freemasonry. Vernhes became an active disciple of the Rite of Mizraim, and published in 1822, at Paris, a defense of it and an examination of the various Rites then practised in France.
VERTOT D'AUBOEUF, RENE-AUBERT DE.
The Abbé Vertot was born at the Chateau de Bennelot, in Normandy, in 1665. In 1715 the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta appointed him the Historiographer of that Order, and provided him with the Commandery of Santenay. Vertot discharged the duties of his office by Meriting his well-known work entitled History of the Knights Hospitaler of Saint John of Jerusalem, afterwards Knights of Rhodes, and now Knights of Malta, which was published at Paris, in 1726, in four volumes. It has since passed through a great number of editions, and been translated into many languages. Of this work, to which the Abbé principally owes his fame, although he was also the author of many other histories, French critics complain that the style is languishing, and less pure and natural than that of his other writings.
Notwithstanding that it has been the basis of almost all subsequent histories of the Order, the judgment of the literary world is, that it needs exactitude in many of its details, and is too much influences by the personal prejudices of the author. The Abbé Vertot died in 1735.
The fish rvas among primitive Christians a symbol of Jesus (see Fish). the Vesica Piscis, signifying literally the airbladder of a fish, but, as some suppose being the rough outline of a fish, was adopted as an abbreviated form of that symbol. In some old manuscripts it is used as a representation of the lateral wound of our Lord. As a symbol, it was frequently employed as a church decoration by the Freemasons of the Middle Ages. The seals of all colleges, abbeys, and other religious communities, as well as of ecclesiastical persons, were invariably made of this shape. Hence, in reference to the religious character of the Institution, it has been suggested that the seals of Masonic Lodges should also have that form, instead of the circular one now used.
VESSELS OF GOLD AND SILVER.
These utensils for the service of the First Temple, were almost numberless, according to Josephus. He gives the accompanying list of them: ................................................ Gold................................... Silver Vessels...................................... 20,000................................40,000 Candlesticks.............................. 4,000................................ 8,000 Wine cups................................. 80,000.................................. ....... Goblets..................................... 10,000................................ 20,000 Measures.................................. 20,000................................. 40'000 Dishes...................................... 80,000................................160,000 Censers.................................... 20,000..................................50,000 ................................... .............--------- ..................................---------- ................................... ........... 234,000................................... 318,000 Vestments for the priests. . . . .........21,000 Musical instruments . . . ........... . . 600,000 Stoles of silver for the Levites . . . 200,000
VESSELS OF GOLD AND SILVER FOR THE FIRST TEMPLE.
The vessels and vestments were always protected by a Hierophylax or Guardian.
Associations of Freemasons "who, as such, have borne the burden and heat of the day" for at least twenty-one years' active service—in the State of Conneetieut, thirty years. A number of these Societies exist in the United States, their objects being largely of a social nature, to set an example to the younger Freemasons, and to keep a watchful eye on the comfort of those whose years are becoming numbered. The assemblies are stated or casual, but in all cases annual for a Table Lodge. These Associations perpetuate friendship, cultivate the social virtues, and collate and preserve the histories and biographies of their members.
A war-flag. In classical Latin, Vezillum meant a Rag consisting of a piece of cloth fixed on a frame or cross-tree, as contradistinguished from a signum, or standard, which was simply a pole with the image of an eagle, horse, or some other device on the top. Among the pretended relies of the Order of the Temple is one called Me drapeau de guerre, en laine blanche, à quatre raies noires; that is, the standard of war, of white linen, unth four black rays; and in the Statutes of the Order, the Vexillum Belli is described as being albo nigroque palatum, or pales of petite anti black, which is the same thing couched in the technical language of heraldry
This is incorrect. The only war-flag of the ancient Knights Templar was the Beauseant. Addison, on the title-page of his Temple Church, gives what he says is "the war-banner of the Order of the Temple," and which is, as in the illustration, the Beauseant bearing in the center the blood-red Ternplar Cross Some of the Masonic Templars, those of Scotland for example, have both a Beaucenifer or Beauseant Bearer, and a Bearer of the Vexillum Belli. The difference in that instance would appear to be that the Beauseant is the plain white and black flag, and the Vexillum Belli is the same flag charged with the red cross.
VIANY, AUGUSTE DE.
A Masonic writer of Tuscany, and one of the founders there of the Philosphic Scottish Rite. He was the author of many discourses, dissertations, and didactic essays on Masonic subjects. He is, however, best known as the collector of a large number of manuscript Degrees and cahiers or rituals, several of which have been referred to in this work.
The name of the second officer in a Conclave of the Red Cross of Rome anal Constantine.
A state of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Grand Lodge of England established Australia Felix Lodge (helix being the Latin for fruitful and lucky) at Melbourne by Warrant dated April 2, 1841. The Lodge was constituted, however, in March 1840. The Craft at once took a firm hold and the Lodge is now No. 1 on the register of the Grand Lodge of Victoria. Scotch and Irish Lodges were planted in 1843 and 1847. Numerous others began work during the next three decades and a Provincial Grand Master, the Hon. J. E. Murray, was appointed.
In 1886 the Scotch, Irish, and English Jurisdictions controlled about 120 Lodges, all united under one Provincial Grand Master. A proposal in 1864 that Victoria should have a Grand Lodge of its own was strongly opposed by the Grand Lodge of England. The suggestion was dropped until 1876 and again until 1883 when a few of the Lodgeg combined to carry it to a successful issue. A Convention of delegates was held and the Masonic Union of Victoria was formed on April 27. In the following June more Lodges approved the scheme and the Grand Lodge of Victoria was founded July 2, 1883. Brother Coppin was elected Grand Master and before the end of his first year of offiee it had been recognized by 17 other Grand Lodges Those Lodges which remained faithful to the authorities in England, Scotland and Ireland united under one Provincial Grand Master, Sir. W. J. Clarke On March 21, 1889, the regular Grand Lodge of Victoria was constituted and suceeecled in uniting all the conflicting elements in the Colony.
For over sixty years reigned as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India. Born 1819; the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, who was Past Grand Master of Freemasons in England. before twenty years of age Victoria was crowned Queen and during her long and glorious reign she gave unstintingly of her time, interest and personal funds to the various benevolent activities of English Freemasonry. Her death occurred in 1901, when she was succeeded by her son, Edward VII, born 1841, and who became Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, in 1874. During Victoria's reign she seas named the Patroness or Protectress of the Masonic Order.
VIELLE-BRU, RITE OF.
In 1748, the year after the alleged creation of the Chapter of Arras by the Young Pretender, Charles Edward, a new Rite, in favor of the cause of the Stuarts, was established at Toulouse by, as it is said, Sir Samuel Lockhart, one of the Aides-de-Camp of the Prince. It was called the Raite of Vielle-Bru, or Faithful Scottish Masons. It Consisted of nine Degrees, divided into three chapters as follows:
1, 2, 3. The Symbolic Degrees;
4. Secret Master.
5, 6, 7, 8. Four Elu Degrees, based on the Templar System.
9. Scientific Freemasonry.
The head of the Rite was a Council of Menatzchim.
In 1804 the Rite was refused a recognition by the Grand Orient of France, because it presented no moral or scientific object, and because the Charter which it claimed to have from Prince Charles Edward was not proved to be authentic It continued to exist in the South of France until the year 1812, when, being again rejected by the Grand Orient, it fell into decay.
VIENNA, GRAND LODGE OF.
See Austria Hungary and Czecho-Slovakia.
VILLARS, ABBE MONTFAUCON DE.
He was born in Languedoc in 1653, and was shot by one of his relatives, on the high road between Lyons and Paris, in l675. The Abbé Villars is celebrated as the author of She Count de Gabalis, or Conversations on the Secret Sciences, published in two volumes, at Paris, in 1670.
In this work the author's design was, under the form of a romance, to unveil some of the Cabalistie mysteries of Rosicrucianism. It has passed through many editions, and has been translated into English as well as into other languages.
VINCERE AUT MORI.
A Latin term that is in French, Vaincre ou Mourir, meaning Conquer or die. The motto of the Degree of Perfect Elect Freemason, the first of the Elus according to the Clermond or Templar system of Freemasonry.
VINDICATIONS OF MASONRY.
Book by Brother Neil, 1810.
A distinguished lecturer on Freemasonry, and teacher of the ritual in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. His field of labors was principally confined to the Southern States, and he taught his system for some time with great success in North and South Carolina. There were, however, stains upon his eharaeter, and he was eventually expelled by the Grand Lodge of the former State. He died at Shakertown, Kentucky, in July, 1833. Vinton published at Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1816, a volumes containing Selections of Masonic, Sentimental and Humorous songs, under the title of The Masonic Minstrel. Of this rather trifling work no less than twelve thousand copies were sold by subscription.
To Vinton's poetic genius we are indebted for that beautiful dirge commencing, Solemn strikes the funeral chime which became in almost all the Lodges of the United States a part of the ritualistic ceremonies of the Sublime Degree, and has been sung over the graves of thousands of departed Brethren. This contribution should preserve the memory of Vinton among the Craft, and in some measure atone for his faults, whatever they may have been. The words of this poem are appended as follows:
Solemn strikes the funeral chime
Notes of our departing time
As we journey here below
Through a pilgrimage of woe.
Mortals, now indulge a tear
For mortality is here!
See how wide her trophics wave
O'er the slumbers of the grave!
Here another guest we bring!
Seraphs of celestial wing,
To our fun'ral altar come,
Waft our friend and brother home.
Thee, enlarged, thy souI shall see
What was veiled in mystery;
Heavenly glories of the place
Show his Maker face to face.
Lord of all! below—above—
Fill our hearts with truth and love
When dissolves our earthly tie
Take us to Thy Lodge on high.
This is not a Masonic color, except in some of the advanced Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, where it is a symbol of mourning, and thus becomes one of the decorations of a Sorrow Lodge. Portal (Couleurs Symboliques, page 236) says that this color was adopted for mourning by persons of high rank. And Gampini (Vetera Monumenta) states that violet was the mark of grief, especially among Kings and Cardinals. In Christian art, the Savior is clothed in a purple robe during His passion; and it is the color appropriated, says Court de Gebelin (Monde primetif viii, page 201), to martyrs, because, like their Divine Master, they undergo the punishment of the Passion. Prevost (Histoire des Voltages vi, page 152) says that in China violet is the color of mourning.
Among that people blue is appropriated to the dead and red to the living, because with them red represents the vital heat, and blue, immortality; and hence, says Portal, violet, which is made by an equal admixture of blue and red, is a symbol of the resurrection to eternal life. Such an idea is peculiarly appropriate to the use of violet in the advanced Degrees of Freemasonry as a symbol of mourning. It would be equally appropriate in the first Degrees, for everywhere in Freemasonry we are taught to mourn not as those who have no hope. Our grief for the dead is that of those who believe in the immortal life. The red symbol of life is tinged with the blue of immortality, and thus we would wear the violet as our mourning to declare our trust in the resurrection.
[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership
Development] [Education] [Masonic
This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United
States or elsewhere.
Last modified: March 22, 2014