The Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees
In the late 1870′s it was decided to establish a Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees to take under its direction all Lodges of various Orders that had no central authority. Initially the Orders of Grand High Priest, St. Lawrence the Martyr, Red Cross of Babylon and the Knights of Constantinople acknowledged this new central authority and subsequently the Degree of Grand Tilers of Solomon, which originated in the United States of America, was added as a fifth Order.
The Degree of St. Lawrence the Martyr is that in which all administrative business of a Council of the Order is conducted. The Master of a Council is elected, as such, in a Lodge of St. Lawrence and the only ceremony of Installation is that of a Master of a Lodge of St. Lawrence. Thereby, he constitutionally becomes Master of the Council and appoints the Officers of the Lodge. The Master of the Council is responsible for designating Officers to work any other Degree of the Order, when required.
At every meeting of a Council, a Lodge of St. Lawrence must be opened and closed and a Lodge or Council of any of the other four Degrees is opened and closed only when the ceremony of Admission to that Degree is worked.
Every Candidate for admission to the Order of the Allied Masonic Degrees must be a Companion of the Holy Royal Arch and a Mark Master Mason. He is first admitted to the Degree of St. Lawrence and the other four Degrees conferred upon him subsequently, in any order, but not more than three of the five Degrees may be conferred on a Candidate during any one meeting.
It is believed that this Order was practised in Lancashire among travelling operative Masons who formed themselves into Lodges when working on Cathedrals and Churches in an area. When a Mason moved on to another town he would be able to attach himself to another Lodge where he would at once be accepted.
The ceremony of St. Lawrence is believed to have its origins in Lancashire and was meant to distinguish the true craftsman from the speculative Mason. Although this is not thought of as a Christian Order, it deals with the Martyrdom of Lawrence and teaches fortitude. The degree of the Knights of Constantinople attempts to link the legends of Constantine with Masonry and teaches humility and justice. The degrees of Grand Tilers of Solomon and the Red Cross of Babylon deal with the period between the Craft Third Degree and the Royal Arch. The Grand High Priest degree goes back to recalling the days of Abraham and the calling to priestly office.
Having taken the five Degrees of this Order, the candidate is awarded a breast jewel appropriate to each degree. There is no other regalia worn.
The Order is headed by a Grand Master and is administered, like many other Orders from Mark Masons Hall in London.
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