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knights of malta
the masonic manual
THE Knights of St. John, or Hospitallers of St. John, afterward known as Knights of Rhodes, and finally called Knights of Malta, was a military religious Order, established at about the commencement of the Crusades. As early as 1018, some merchants from Amalfi, in Naples, being struck with the misery to which the pilgrims were exposed on their road to the Holy Land, obtained permission of the Caliph of Egypt, to erect a church and build a monastery near the site of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, which they dedicated to St. John the Baptist. They entertained all pilgrims that came for devotion, and cure, the diseased among them. They became eminent for their devotion, charity, and hospitality. St. John the Baptist, being their patron, they were called Brethren Hospitallers of St. John the Baptist of Jerusalem, to distinguish them from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. They took the black habit of the Hermits of St. Augustine, and on the left breast wore a cross of eight points. "In war they wore crimson, with a white cross, but in their monasteries, and on the day of their profession, the black garment only." *)
*) The working of this grade is an Americanism, The Order of Malta should have no place in Templar Masonry. - ED.
The following passages of Scripture are rehearsed in Encampments of Knights of Malta:
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And when they were escaped, then they knew that the Island was called Melita. And the barbarous people showed us no litle kindness; for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly; but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him. - ACTS xxviii. 1-6.
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And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZAIETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. - ST. JOHN xix. 19.
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. - REV. ii. 10.
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But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples, therefore, said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the prints of the nails, and put my finger into the prints of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you, etc. - ST JOHN xx. 24-28.
SIR KNTGHT: - Having passed through the several degrees and honorary distinctions of our ancient and honorable institution - in your admission to the tesselated Masonic ground floor - your ascent into the middle chamber - your entrance to the unfinished sanctum sanctorum - your regularly passing the several gates of the temple - induction to the oriental chair - witnessing the completion and dedication of that superb model of excellence, the Temple, which has immortalized the names of our ancient Grand Masters, and the justly celebrated craftsmen: - having wrought in the ruins of the first Temple, and from its sacred Royal Arch brought to light incalculable treasures and advantages to the craft: - having duly studied into the way and manner of their concealment; also having been engaged in the hazardous enterprise of traversing an enemy's dominions, and there convincing a foreign prince that truth is great and will prevail; therefore, you are now admitted to a participation in those labors which are to effect the erection of a temple more glorious than the first, even that beauteous temple of holiness and innocence, whose pillars are Charity, Mercy and Justice, the foundation of which is in the breast of every one who has tasted that the Lord is gracious: to whom you come as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious.
And now, Sir Knight, we bid you welcome to all these rights and privileges, even to that disinterested friendship and unbounded hospitality which ever has, and we hope and trust ever will continue to adorn, distinguish and characterize this noble order
It will henceforth become your duty, and should be your desire, to assist, protect and befriend the weary way-worn traveler, who finds the heights of fortune inaccessible, and the thorny paths of life broken, adverse and forlorn, - to succor, defend and protect the innocent, the distressed and the helpless, ever standing forth as a champion to espouse the cause of the Christian religion.
You are to inculcate, enforce and practice virtue; and amidst all the temptations which surround you, never be drawn aside from the path of duty, or forgetful of those due guards and pass-words which are necessary to be had in perpetual remembrance; and while one hand is wielding the sword for your Companion in danger, let the other grasp the mystic Trowel, and widely diffuse the genuine cement of Brotherly Love and Friendship.
Should calumny assail the character of a brother Sir Knight, recollect that you are to step forth and vindicate his good name, and assist him on all necessary occasions. Should assailants ever attempt your honor, interest or happiness, remember, also, at the same time, you have the counsel and support of your brethren, whose mystic swords, combining the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, with Justice, Fortitude, and Mercy will leap from their scabbards in defence of your just rights, and insure you a glorious triumph over all your enemies.
On this occasion permit me, Sir Knight, to remind you of our mutual engagements, our reciprocal ties; whatever may be your situation or rank in life you will find those, in similar stations, who have dignified themselves and been useful to mankind. You are therefore called upon to discharge all your duties with fidelity and patience, whether in the field, in the senate, on the bench, at the bar, or at the Holy Altar. Whether you are placed upon the highest pinnacle of worldly grandeur, or glide more securely in the humble vale of obscurity, unnoticed, save by a few; it matters not, for a few rolling suns will close the scene, when naught but holiness will serve as a sure pass-word to gain admission into that REST prepared from the foundation of the world.
If you see a brother bending under the cross of adversity and disappointment, look not idly on, neither pass by on the other side, but fly to his relief. If he be deceived, tell him the Truth; if he be calumniated, vindicate his cause; for, although in some instances, he may have erred, still recollect that indiscretion in him should never destroy humanity in you.
Finally, Sir Knights, as memento mori is deeply engraved on all sublunary enjoyments, let us ever be found in the habiliments of righteousness, traversing the straight path of rectitude, virtue and true holiness, so that having discharged our duty here below, performed the pilgrimage of life, burst the bands of mortality, passed over the Jordan of death, and safely landed on the broad shore of eternity, there, in the presence of myriads of attending angels, we may be greeted as brethren, and received into the extended arms of the Blessed Immanuel, and forever made to participate in his Heavenly kingdom.
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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of GOD that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of GOD, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. - EPHES. vi. 10-17
The Sir Knights will assemble in the room where the ceremonies are to be performed, and open a Commandery. The jewels are then placed on the altar. An ode is then sung, succeeded by prayer.
The Grand Marshal will then say, "Right Eminent Grand Commander, a constitutional number of Knights Templar, duily instructed in the sublime mysteries of our Orders, and being desirous of promoting the honor of the same by aiding the cause of humanity, knowledge and virtue, have applied to proper authority for a warrant or charter to constitute them a regular Commandery of Knights Templar, and the appendant Orders. The prayer of their petition having been granted, they are now assembled for the purpose of being legally constituted, and of having their officers installed in due and ancient form."
The Grand Commander will then direct the Grand Recorder to read the charter, which being done, he will ask the members if they still approve of the officers named in the charter; if they assent, the Grand Commander will declare:
"By virtue of the high power and authority in me vested, I do now form you, my worthy brother knights, into a just and regular Commandery of Knights Templar. Henceforth you are authorized and empowered to form and open a Council of Knights of the Red Cross, a Commnandery of Knights Templar, and Knights of Malta, of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and to perform all such things as may appertain to the same; conforming in all your doings to the laws and constitution of the Grand Commandery, under whose authority you act, and to the constitution and edicts of the Grand Encampment of the United States. And may the God of your fathers be with you, guide and direct you in all your undertakings."
The jewels are now uncovered to solemn music, when the Prelate rises and says:
"From time immemorial, it has been customary for the Masonic fraternity to dedicate the different departments of our institution to different patrons. We dedicate our Lodges to St. John the Baptist, and the Evangelist; our Chapters to Zerubbabel, and our Commanderies to St. John the Almoner. We do this not in that superstitious sense in which the brethren employ the term when they set apart their temples for the worship of their imaginary deities, nor in that high and solemn sense in which Christians dedicate their churches to the great Jehovah; but we do it simply to testify our respect and esteem for the character of those who have been so eminently beneficial to our institution, and that their examples may stimulate us to imitate their exalted virtues
"To our most eminent and worthy Patron St. JOHN the ALMONER, I do now solemnly dedicate this Commandery, by the name and title of -- Commandery; and may the God of all grace abundantly bless you in your laudable undertaking, and may each one of its members so redeem his time, that he may receive the joyful invitation: 'Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."
Response. - "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
The Eminent Commander elect is then presented to the Grand Commander by the Marshal, who says:
RIGHT EMINENT: - I have the honor to present you Eminent Sir, who has been elected to the office of Eminent Commander of this Commandery. I find him to be well skilled in our sublime mysteries, and observant of the noble precepts of our forefathers, and have, therefore, no doubt but he will discharge the important duties of his office with fidelity."
The Grand Commander then asks, "Eminent, are you ready to subscribe to the oath of office?" On his answering in the affirmative, the Grand Commander will draw his sword, and holding it horizontally, the edge toward the Eminent Commander elect, who will place his left hand on the same, and his right hand on his left breast, and repeat as follows:
"I, A. B., do solemnly promise, upon the honor of a Knight Templar, that I will, to the best of my knowledge and ability, faithfully discharge the various duties incumbent upon the office to which I have been elected; that I will support and maintain the By-Laws of this Commandery, and the laws and constitution of the Grand Commandery, under whose immediate authority I act; also the constitution and edicts of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America."
The Grand Commander will then address the Eminent Commander elect, as follows:
" EMINENT SIR: - Having been elected to the important and honorable station of Eminent Commander of this (new) Commandery, it is with unfeigned pleasure that I enter upon the discharge of the pleasing duty of installing you into your office. As the head of an institution founded upon the Christian religion, and the practice of the Christian virtues, you will sensibly realize the great responsibility of the new relation in which you now stand to your brethren; and, I am fully persuaded, will so conduct the important interests about to be committed to your hands, as to reflect honor upon yourself and credit upon your Commandery. It now, Sir Knight, becomes my duty to propose certain questions to you, relative to your office, to which I must request unequivecal answers.
"Do you submit to all these things? and do you promise to observe and
practice them faithfully?"
EMINENT: - You will now permit me to invest you with this badge of your office; It is a CROSS, surmounted by Rays of Light. It is an appropriate and beautiful emblem of the sublime principles of this magnanimous and Christian Order of Knighthood. The Cross will remind you of Him who offered up his life as a propitiation for the sins of the world; and the refulgent rays that emanate from it, of those divine teachings and sublime precepts which He has left to guide and direct us in the paths of truth and holiness.
I present you the
CHARTER of your Commandery. You will receive it as a sacred deposit, and
never permit it to be used for any other purpose than those expressed in
it, and safely transmit it to your successor in office.
The CROSS SWORDS, resting upon the HOLY BIBLE, are to remind us that we should be "strong in the LORD, and in the power of his might;" - that we should "put on the whole armor of GOD," to be able to wrestle successfully against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
I also present to you the Constitution of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America; the Rules and iregulations of the Grand Commandery of this State, and the By-laws of your Commandery. You will frequently consult them yourself, and cause them to be read for the information of your Commandery, that all, being informed of their duty, may have no reasonable excuse to offer for the neglect of it.
And now, Eminent Sir, permit me to induct you into the Chair of your Commandery, and, in behalf of the Sir Knights here assembled, to offer you my most sincere congratulations on your accession to the honorable station you now fill. It will henceforth be your special duty to preserve inviolate the Laws and Constitutions of the Order, to dispense justice, reward merit, encourage truth, and diffuse the sublime principles of universal benevolence. You will distribute alms to poor and weary pilgrims traveling from afar; feed the hungry; clothe the naked, and bind up the wounds of the afflicted. You will inculcate the duties of charity and hospitality, and govern your Commandery with justice and moderation. And finally, my brother, may the bright example of the illustrious heroes of former ages, whose matchless valor has shed undying luster over the name of Knight Templar, encourage and animate you to the faithful performance of every duty.
Sir Knigts: - Behold your Eminent Commander, [The Knights rise and present arms]. Recollect, Sir Knights, that the prosperity of your Commandery, will as much depend on your support, assistance and obedience, as on the assiduity, fidelity and wisdom of your Commander.
The remainder of the officers are then duly qualified, by taking the oath of office, in the form and manner before stated. The Grand Marshal then presents the Generalissimo.
SIR: - You have been elected Generalissimo of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Square, surmounted by a Paschal Lamb. When beholding the lamb, let it stimulate you to have, at all times, a watchful eye over your own conduct, and an earnest solicitude for the prosperity of the kingdom of the blest Emmanuel, the spotless Lamb of God, who was slain from the foundation of the world.
The square is to remind you that the institution of Freemasonry, and the Orders of Knighthood were formerly governed by the same Grand Masters, and that the same principles of brotherly love and friendshlip should forever govern the members of both orders. Your station, Sir Knight, is on the right of your Commander; your duty is to receive and communicate all orders, signs and petitions: to assist your Commander in his various duties, and in his absence to preside in the Commandery. The exercise of all your talents and zeal will be necessary in the discharge of your various duties. I charge you, therefore, to be faithful to the Sir Knights with whom you are associated; put them often in remembrance of those things which tend to their everlasting peace. Finally, "preach to them the word: be instant in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine;" ever remembering the promise, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
SIR: - You are elected Captain-General of this Conmmandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Level, surmounted by a Cock. As the undaunted courage and valor of the cock stimulates him to conquer his competiton or yield himself a victim to the contest, so should you be stimulated to the discharge of every duty. You should have on "the breast-plate of righteousness," so that with patience and meekness you may ever travel on the level of humility, and be so supplied with divine grace as to prevent you from selling your God or denying your Master. Your station is on the left of your Commander. Your duty, among other things, is to see that the proper officers make all due preparation for the variois meetings of the Commandery; that the council chamber and asylum are in suitable array for the introduction of candidates and the dispatch of business. You are also to receive and commininicate all orders issued by the Eminent Commander, through the officers of the line. You are to assist in Council and in the absence of your Comnmander ard Generalissimo, you are to govern the Commandery. The distressed widow, the helpless orphan, and the innocent of the weaker sex, you are ever to assist and protect. But, above all, you are to stand forth, having your loins girt about with TRUTH, in defense of the Christian religion from all its enemies. And now I exhort you, that with fidelity you perform every duty; and "Whatsoever ye do, do heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men: continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" ever bearing in mind the promise, "Be not weary in welldoing, for in due time you shall reap if ye faint not."
SIR :- You are elected Prelate of this Commandery. I have the pleasure of investing you with this Triple Triangle, which is the badge of your office, and a beautiful emblem of the Eternal Jehovah. Your station is on the right of the Generalissimo; your duty is to officiate at the altar; to offer up prayers and oblations to Deity. The duties of your office are very interesting and highly important, and will require your early and punctual attendance at every meeting. Your jewel is to remind you of the importance of the trust reposed in you; and may "He who is able, abundantly furnish you for every good work, preserve you from falling into error; improve, strengthen, establish and perfect you," and, finally, greet you with, "Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
SIR: - You are elected Senior Warden of this Cornmandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Hollow Square and Sword of Justice. It is to remind you that as the children of Israel marched in a hollow square, in their journey through the wilderness, in order to guard and protect the Ark of the Covenant, so should you be vigilant in guarding every avenue from innovation and error. Let the sword of justice, therefore, be ever drawn to guard the Constitution of the Order. Your station is at the south-west angle of the triangle, and upon the right of the first division. You will attend pilgrim warriors traveling from afar, comfort and support pilgrim penitents, and recommend them after due trial, to the favor and protection of the Eminent Commander. You will be assiduous in teaching your division their duties and exercises. You will, on all occasions, form the avenues for the approach and departure of your Commander; and prepare the lines for inspection and review. Let it be your constant care that the warrior be not deterred from duty, nor the penitent molested on his journey. Finally, "Let your light so shine before men, that they seeing your good works may glorify your Father which is in heaven."
SIR: - You are elected Junior Warden of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is an Eagle and Flaming Sword. It is to remind you to perform your various duties with justice and valor, having an eagle eye on the prosperity of the Order. Your station is at the north-west angle of the triangle, and on the left of the third division. Your duty is to attend weary pilgrims, traveling from afar, conduct them on their journey, plead their cause, and, by permission of the Grand Commander, introduce them into the asylum. You will be careful that in addition to the sandals, staff and scrip, their whole preparation and deportment be such as shall cause them to be recognized as children of humility. Teach that "Magna est veritas et praevalebit" is the motto of our orders and although in the course of their pilgrimage, they will often find the hights of fortune inaccessible, and the thorny path of life crooked, adverse and forlorn; yet, by faith and humility, courage, constancy, and perseverance in the great duties set before them in the gospel, they may gain admission into the asylum above there to enjoy the honor and rewards that await the valiant soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, be ye perfect, always abounding in the works of the Lord that you may be a shining light in the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
SIR: - You are elected Treasurer of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office. Your station is on the right of the Eminent Commander, in front. The qualities which should recommend a Treasurer are accuracy and fidelity: accuracy, in keeping a fair and minute account of all receipts and disbursements; fidelity, in carefully preserving all the property and funds of the Commandery, that may he placed in his hands, and rendering a just account of the same whenever he is called upon for that purpose. I presume that your respect and attachment to the Commandery, and your earnest solicitude for a good name, which is better than precious ointment, will prompt you to the faithful discharge of the duties of your office.
SIR: - You are elected Recorder of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office. Your station is on the left of the Eminent Commander, in front. The qualities which should recommend a Recorder are, promptitude in issuing the notifications and orders of his superior officers; punctuality in attending the meetings of the Commandery; correctness in recording their proceedings; judgment in discriminating between what is proper and what is improper to be committed to writing; integrity in accounting for all moneys that may pass through his hands, and fidelity in paying the same over into the hands of the Treasurer. The possession of these good qualities, I presume, has designated you as a suitable candidate for this important office; and I cannot entertain a doubt that you will discharge its duties beneficially to the Commandery and honorably to yourself. And when you shall have completed the record of your transactions here below, and finished the term of your probation, may you be admitted into the celestial asylum of saints and angels, and find your name recorded in the LAMB's Book of Life.
SIR: - You are elected Standard Bearer of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Plumb surmounted by a Banner, Your station is in the west, and in the centre of the second division. Your duty is to display, support and protect the standard of the Order, which I now with pleasure, confide to your valor. You will remember that it is our rallying point in time of danger; and when unfurled in a just and virtuous cause, you will never relinquish it to an enemy but with your life. Let, therefore, your conduct be such as all the virtuous will delight to imitate; let the refulgent rays which ever emanate from pure benevolence and humility, diffuse their luster on all around, that it may encourage and animate all true and courteous knights, and, at the same time, confound and dismay all their enemies.
SIR: - You are elected Sword Beaer of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Trinangle and Cross Swords. Your station is on the right of the Standard Bearer, and on the right of the second division, when formed in line. Your duty is to watch all orders and signals from the Eminent Commander, and see that they are promptly obeyed. You are also to assist in the protection of the banners of the Order, and with a heart lively devoted to the principles of Faith, Hope and Charity; with the mystic sword that is endowed with justice and fortitude, and tempered by mercy, in your hand, you may cast your eyes upon the standard, and remember that "In hoc signo vinces" is an expressive motto of our Order, and consoling to the heart of every believer.
SIR:-You are elected Warder of this Commandery. I now invest you with the badge of your office, which is a Square Plate, with a Trumpet and Cross Swords engraved thereon. Your station is upon the left of the Standard Bearer, and upon the left of the second division, when formed in line. Your duty is to announce the approach and departure of the Eminent Commander; to post the sentinels, and see that the asylum is duly guarded. You will, also, report all petitions from visitors and strangers, and communicate the orders of your superior officers; and I charge you to be punctual in your attendance at our meetings, and indefatigable in the discharge of your important duties; for though yours is among the last offices in the Commandery, it is by no means the least in importance.
SIR KNIGHTS: - You are
appointed Captains of the Guards. I now invest you with your badge of
office, which is a Square Plate, with a Battle Ax engraved
thereon. Your post is that of honor as well as danger. You will therefore
be vigilant, and challenge with spirit, examine with caution,
admonish with candor, relieve cheerfully, protect
with fidelity, and fight valiantly.
SIR KNIGHTS: - To manage and conduct the concerns of a Commandery of Knights Templar with that promptitude, integrity and skill which the institution demands, will require the exercise of all the talents, and perseverance of its officers and members. Are any of you solicitous that your equals and inferiors should conduct themselves toward you with deference and respect? you will be sure to let no opportunity pass without furnishing them an example in your own conduct toward your superiors. The officers will recollect that those moral and religious duties and precepts which they, from time to time, so forcibly impress upon the minds of others, should by no means be neglected by themselves; as the most effectual way to insure success, is to let precept and example go hand in hand.
I would therefore exhort one and all of you to look well to the East, to the West, to the North and to the South, and see that the entering avenues are strictly guarded, and that you suffer no one to pass the threshold of your asylum but the worthy children of humility, and, at the same time, that you suffer no one to walk among you disorderly without admonition or reproof. While such is the conduct of the officers and members, you may rest assured that this valiant magnanimous order will forever flourish like the green bay tree. And now, my worthy Sir Knights, I would address you in the language of David to his beloved city, "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." For my brethren and companions' sake, I will now say, Peace be with thee.
The Grand Marshal then proclaims the new Commandery in the following manner, viz.:
"In the name of the Most Eminent Grand Commandery of the State of --, I proclaim this new Commandery, by the name of -- Commandery, to be legally constituted, consecrated, and the officers duly installed."
After the necessary business is finished the Commandery is closed.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014