The Knights Templar is the final order joined in the York Rite. Unlike
other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being
regardless of religion, membership in Knights Templar is open only to
Royal Arch Masons who promise to defend the Christian faith. Its
affiliation with Masonry is based on texts that indicate persecuted
Templars found refuge within the safety of Freemasonry.
A local Knights Templar organization is called a Commandery in the
United States and a Preceptory elsewhere. In the United States,
Knights Templar consists of three degrees:
||Illustrious Order of the Red Cross
- The first order conferred in the chivalric system
is the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and the story contained
within predates the era of the crusades. The candidate represents
Zerubbabel who is well familiar to the Royal Arch Mason (a requirement
for admission) at the time of King Darius. Zerubbabel visits the king
in order to convince him of his commitment to the Jewish people and in
the process is asked to take part in a debate over which has greatest
sway in the kingdom - wine, women or the king. The end result of the
debate being the candidate offering a fourth option and an excellent
argument is made on the power of Truth.
||Order of the Knights of Malta
- This is the first of the Christian Orders contained in the Chivalric
system and relates the story of St. Paul's arrival on the island of
Melita which we know today as Malta. In the next portion of the order
the history of the Knights of St. John (Knights of Malta) is explained
and the periods of the orders history is paralleled with the birth,
life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. While
Freemasonry often comes under attack by fundamentalists who view it as
unchristian, the candidate for admission into this Christian order can
offer clear argument to the contrary.
||Order of the Temple - The
Order of the Temple of Knights Templar Order is the most beautiful in
the series. The order is broken into three portions:
These portions are sometimes conferred together but more often done on
two or three separate occasions. During the ceremonies the candidate
represents a knight of the era that succeeded the Crusades and vowed
to visit the Holy Sepulcher. As a trial of his worthiness he must make
a pilgrimage for seven years in the direction of the Holy Sepulcher.
After having served six years of preparation he is commanded to devote
the remaining year of preparation to penance. The ritual teaches
beautiful lessons on the death and ascension of our Savior and the
candidate is at last received into full fellowship, in the most solemn
It is important to note that in Canada and the United States there are
some differences to the Orders, but essentially they follow the above
A Potential Candidate for Masonic Templarism, must be a member of the
Craft Lodge, and Royal Arch Chapter. In some jurisdictions it is
required that the potential member must also be a member of the
Unlike most branches of Freemasonry, wherein the Candidate need not
follow a particular faith, the Chivalric Orders of Masonry require a
belief in the doctrine of the Trinity. That is to say they must
profess a faith in Christianity.
||Knight Crusader of the Cross
- The Knight Crusaders of the Cross is a "chair degree"
conferred upon present or past Eminent Commanders of a Commandery. It
is not used everywhere, but is gaining in popularity across the
country. The degree originated in Florida in 1969 and spread North.
Typically it is conferred at the same time as the state Grand
Commandery meeting. The body is styled an Asylum, and has eight
officers, the highest being the Knight Crusader of the East.
The Induction Ceremony opens with three brief lectures on Masonic
Templarism and the duties of a Commander,
followed by the arrangement of the candidates in a cross formation in
the center of the Asylum, where they receive refreshment and are
dubbed Knight Crusaders of the Cross. It concludes with a brief
lecture on the ancient Knight Templars and an explanation of the
Jerusalem Cross, as well as the modes of
recognition among Knight Crusaders.