The Masonic and Military Order of
the Red Cross of Constantine
and the Orders of the Holy Sepulchre
and of St John the Evangelist
The Masonic and Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine
The Order of The Red Cross of Constantine is administered by and under Mark Masons Hall. The order in England and Wales consists of 28 Divisions which are like Provinces, each overseen by an Intendant–General. The Order assumed its current form following the establishment of Grand Imperial Conclave in London in 1865 by Robert Wentworth Little, an employee of Freemasons Hall. Since that time this Chivalric Order has grown steadily with the formation of several Sovereign Grand Conclaves throughout the world.
The Order is not only Christian but the other prerequisite for membership is that one must be a Royal Arch Companion, indeed, the order is sometimes known as the Christian Royal Arch degree. Many might feel this is a poor description, although it is certainly true that candidates are admitted wearing their Royal Arch regalia and once admitted are known as Knights-Companion. Obligations are taken in the name of the Trinity in Unity and on the Bible, reinforcing the Christian connection.
The Order commemorates the miraculous Conversion to the Christian faith of the great Roman Emperor Constantine after his glorious victory in the battle of Saxa Rubra and the Milvian Bridge in the year AD 312, and the impact that his conversion had on the further development and global spread of the Christian religion.
Since it takes its name and ceremonial from the life of Constantine the Great, who convened the Council of Nicaea, by which the Bible was arranged in its present form and from which we derive the Nicene Creed still used in Churches today, 1700 years later, one can see why.
The full title of the 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‘ so that The Red Cross is in fact three separate distinct Masonic Orders; not degrees but Orders: The Red Cross of Constantine itself, when you are installed a Knight Companion, and then the additional orders, known as The Appendant Orders of the Holy Sepulchre and the Order of St John the Evangelist.
The latter two involve further ceremonies and further teachings, but they are always conferred at the same meeting. The two ceremonies are to some extent interwoven, but all the Orders have a separate structure within the Conclave, and all have had a separate history and separate development.
Many Masonic historians and thinkers have seen the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine and its associated Orders as not only the Third Great Pillar of Christian Masonry but the climax of Christian Freemasonry. Certainly, the ceremonial of the Appendant Orders is, I suggest, the most sublime you will meet in Freemasonry and probably the most beautiful ceremony you have ever been involved in or witnessed.
During the ceremony of Installation (not to be confused with Enthronement) the newly made knight is divested of his Royal Arch regalia and invested with a sash (provided by the Conclave) and the jewel of the Order. On completion of the Appendant Orders the original sash is replaced by one similar to that which I am wearing and presented with a further jewel.
Each Division holds an Annual Meeting at which newly appointed and promoted Knights are invested and there is an Annual Assembly at Great Queen Street in July each year when Grand Ranks in the Order are conferred.
As a Masonic and Military Order, we support charities and Conclaves are also encouraged to support local charities, particularly those which provided support for children when additional assistance can be obtained by request to the Grand Sovereigns Fund for children.