Welcome

Intendent General of Hertfordshire
Rt Ill Kt. Terry Deakin

The full name of this Order is The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St. John the Evangelist.

Members of this Degree are often asked "What's it all about?", as the name alone provokes a sense of history and a source of mystery.

In this article I hope to provide some of the answers to those questions.

The Red Cross of Constantine is considered by many Masons as one of the reachable goals in Freemasonry. It is a Degree which answers many questions and explains a number of the mysteries within our fraternity.

The qualification required for membership of this Order is that of Companion in a Royal Arch Chapter and to profess a belief in the Trinitarian Christian Faith.

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

Constantine, a Roman, was destined for the College of Emperors, but following the death of his father, he was hailed by the Legions in York as Augustus and became the Governor of Britain and Gaul. After several successful battles across the Alps and Italy he eventually established himself as the lawful Emperor of both the East and West, and transferred the capital of The Empire from Rome to Byzantium, later to be named after him.

He was the first Roman Emperor to openly encourage Christianity. His conversion began one evening after a long day's march with his army when, in what he believed was a sign from Heaven, he and his army saw in the sky, and by the rays of the setting sun, a pillar of light in the form of a special cross. To sanctify the minds of his pagan army, he had made a standard, bearing a Cross like that seen, and ordered it to be carried before him in the wars. Several Christians in his army came forward and avowed their faith following which Constantine directed that they should wear on their armour - a red cross.

Having been successful in battle, it is said that Constantine, with the help of his Chief Bishop, Eusebius, opened a Conclave of the Knights of the Order, whose members became the bodyguard of their Sovereign.

The 'Masonic' Order of the Red Cross of Constantine appears to have been first organised in the United Kingdom by Charles Shirreff about 1780 AD, and was re-organised in 1804 by Waller Rodwell Wright.

During the next fifty years, the Order was not very active until, in 1865, Grand Imperial Conclave was reassembled for the election and enthronement of William Henry Wright.

Since 1865, there has been steady and continuous working, and daughter Grand Imperial Conclaves have been formed from England throughout the world, and in recent years, in Germany, France and Finland.

The Order of the Red Cross of Constantine belongs to the 'East and West' class of Initiatory Rites, and consists of three degrees - Knight, Priest-Mason and Prince-Mason - titles which represent grades in the scale of Initiation.

By - W.Kt. Philip J. Hoy
Div. Chamberlain District Information Officer

Meetings and Joining

The Conclaves meet three or four times a year.

An invitation to join is not required. The Red Cross of Constantine is a particularly good Order for Masons, who are interested in knowing more about Masonry, and the foundation of early Christianity. Any member will be pleased to discuss the Order, should you be interested in finding out more information or considering joining.

There are Conclaves in Radlett, Royston, Cheshunt, Watford and St. Albans. We are also considering forming a new Conclave in Bishops Stortford and are looking for Founders.

If you would like further information about this Order, locations of the Conclaves, or information on how to join a Conclave, please go to the CONTACT page and contact the Divisional Recorder.

REGALIA

Regalia for the Order is simple, just a sash and a jewel.

The Order has five Degrees. These are undoubtedly among the most impressive ceremonies in the whole of Masonry.

The 1st degree - :

KNIGHT OF THE RED CROSS OF CONSTANTINE

This Degree relates the well-known story of Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor who was miraculously converted to the Christian faith. It tells of his divine vision, the institution of a special standard, his subsequent victory over the rival Emperor Maxentius and the creation of what is claimed to be the oldest institution of Christian Knighthood. The substance of the degree develops around the secret doctrine associated with the Labarum, the banner of victory, while the lecture contains a most interesting reference to the Roman College of Architects. All regular business of the Conclave is conducted in the Degree of the Red Cross of Constantine, while the Sanctuary and Commandery are only for the purpose of conferring the Appendant Orders.

The 2nd degree is that of - :

VENERABLE EUSEBIUS

It is one of the symbolic Priesthoods. A Knight who has attained this status is eligible for the office of Eminent Viceroy in a Conclave, provided he is a member of the Appendant Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St. John the Evangelist, and that he is regularly elected to that Office.

The 3rd degree is confined to the - :

MOST PUISSANT SOVEREIGN

Who represents Constantine, Sovereign-Prince of the East and West. A Sovereign shall have served for one year in the Office of Viceroy in a regular Conclave. This Degree completes the Rite of the Red Cross of Constantine.

The Appendant Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and of St. John the Evangelist were attached to the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine at an early date, and a separate certificate is issued to members of this Order. There is no connection, historically or ritually, between the Masonic Degree of Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and the mediaeval Military Order of the same name, which is said to have been founded in the eleventh century.

The 4th degree - :

KNIGHT OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE

Tradition asserts that this Degree originated after the discovery of the True Cross by St Helena. It is concerned with the three days which intervened between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. This Order of Chivalry is said to have been instituted by the mother of Constantine, to maintain a guard at the Holy Place, and is symbolised in the ceremony by a vigil. The duties enjoined on the Knights were the performance of the seven works of mercy.

The 5th degree - :

KNIGHT OF ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST

This is the second of the Appendant Degrees, which are always conferred together, and is founded upon a tradition concerning a remarkable discovery made at the ruins of the Temple at Jerusalem, and the subsequent foundation of the Knights of St John. The interpretation of the legend is of a most interesting and instructive nature, and is striking in its attempt to explain the Craft and Royal Arch ceremonies in a purely Christian sense.

Contact

THE ROSE WALK No. 389

The Masonic Hall,
The Rose Walk,
Radlett, Herts,
WD7 7JS

HERTFORDSHIRE 421

The Masonic Hall,
Jepps Lane,
Royston, Herts,
SG8 9AP

WALNUT TREE 440

Halsey Masonic Hall,
Turners' Hill,
Cheshunt, Herts,
EN3 8NJ

NICHOLAS BREAKSPEARE No 459

Halsey Hall,
Rickmansworth Road,
Watford
WD18 0JE

Albanus No 497

Ashwell House,
167 Verulam Road,
St Albans, Herts,
AL3 4DW

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