The last broadcast of Masonic Central was a Table Lodge and all had a fun time. As I had to rise at 3:30 AM for work the next day I confined my toasts to some good English hot tea. Along the way in performing the seven toasts we came to the one for The Holy Saints John. After the toast we had a pretty good discussion going between the hosts Greg Stewart and Dean Kennedy, and Stephen Dafoe and myself about “From the Lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem.”
Why do we as Masons say we are from a Lodge of the Holy Saint Johns or John? I did some investigating and found that Ed Halpaus had written an essay on the subject that was most fascinating, so I will bring you his words on the subject. If you aren’t familiar with Ed Halpaus, he hails from the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, Mainstream where he has served as Grand Lodge Education Officer. He publishes two Masonic subject essay mailings that one can subscribe to. One is Mehr Licht (More Light) and the other T.F.S. (Three, Five and Seven). You can request to be put on his mailing list by E-Mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org and mentioning the titles of the mailings in your request. I am a regular subscriber and always find Brother Halpaus spreads mucho light!
Brother Halpaus says that in answering the question who was the Holy St. John that is referred to in the phrase “the Lodge of the Holy Saint John”, a French Mason by the name of Bazot claims that it was St. John the Almoner. His father was King of Cyprus but he gave up his title to the throne to go to Jerusalem to assist the Knights and pilgrims of the Crusades. There he did much in charitable relief and acts of benevolence. St. John the Almoner was canonized by both the Greek and Roman Catholic churches and there were two feast days in his honor on November 11th and January 23rd.
But Brother Halpaus goes on to point out that is false that it was St. John the Baptist as the day the Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717 was held on June 24th, Saint John the Baptist day. Later St. John the Evangelist was added to the mix.
But there is a Masonic connection here, says Brother Halpaus. St. John the Almoner is the patron Saint of the Masonic Order of the Templars on account of his charity to the poor and his building of hospitals in Jerusalem.
But what was most interesting that Brother Halpus had to say was before the year 1440 the Masonic Fraternity was known by the name of John’s Brothers and subsequently Freemasonry as practiced in the USA, Ireland and Scotland was called Johannite Masonry. Here you will find the Masonic symbol of “The Point Within The Circle” “So the first three degrees conferred by the Symbolic Lodges in these countries”, Hapaus goes on to say, “is sometimes , although rarely now, called Johannite Masonry, because those Lodges are dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.”
In England the terms St. John Lodges and St. John Masons were applied to those who were Freemasons before the Premier Lodge of England was formed and who in 1717 did not join the new Grand Lodge. They became old unrecognized Lodges and remained Trinitarian Christian while the new Grand Lodge of England was non sectarian. Right about now I am thinking about the difference in focus between American Prince Hall Masonry and American Mainstream Masonry and the interview on Masonic Central of Texas Prince Hall Deputy Grand Master Michael Anderson. There is much that can be said about the biblical roots of Freemasonry.
A question I asked on the radio show was why Jerusalem? A Lodge of the Holy Saints John yes, but why Jerusalem? And of course the obvious answer was that this is the area where King Solomon’s Temple was located. But I was searching for a still deeper symbolism here. And I found it when I read Brother Halpaus’ article.
“Jerusalem”, says Halpaus, “has a symbolic meaning of peace, rest and contentment. The name Jerusalem means City of Peace”. I have long held that world peace and Freemasonry have a direct correlation, and that every Lodge room is a sanctuary of peace and harmony and accord.
Brother Halpaus starts his article with a quote from the Book of Common Prayer. I will end with it.
“O pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls; and plenteous within thy palaces. For my brethren and companion’s sakes; I will wish thee prosperity. Yea, because of the house of the Lord our god; I will seek to do thee good.”