Introduction to Capitular Freemasonry
What Royal Arch Freemasonry Is
What Royal Arch Freemasonry,
and Freemasonry in General, Are Not
It is the second step in York Rite Freemasonry; the first step being Symbolic (a.k.a. “Blue
Lodge” or “Craft Lodge”) Freemasonry. Here, within
your chapter, you will receive the necessary instruction
and information to fill in some of the missing pieces from the Masonic history taught in the
symbolic lodge. The degrees of the chapter are referred to as “Capitular Freemasonry”,
providing a companion the opportunity for further advancement within the brotherhood.
Every chapter within the State of Illinois falls under either
the jurisdiction of the
Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Illinois, or that of the
Prince Hall Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons, State of Illinois.
To become a companion of a chapter, you must first be a Master Mason, and then you may apply for a
petition. Once accepted, you will receive four degrees:
4° – Mark Master Mason
5° – Past Master (Virtual)
6° – Most Excellent Master
7° – Supreme Degree of Holy Royal Arch Mason
It is not an insurance nor benefit society. While we have religious allegories and require each
candidate to profess a belief in the G-d of his own faith, it is neither a religion nor a
creed, nor a religious order. It is not a charity organisation but makes charity a duty. It is
not organised for profit. It dictates to no man as to his beliefs, either religious or secular.
It seeks no advantages for its brethren through business or politics.
It is not a forum for discussion of religion, politics or other partisan affairs. It is not a
secret society as it does not conceal its existence or purposes from the public.
It does not conflict with the symbolic lodge.
Holiness to the Lord
“To bring the blind by a way that they knew not; to lead them in paths they have not known; to
make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight; these things to do unto them, and
not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16).
Overview of Our Further Light in Freemasonry
a companion of one of the oldest and largest rites of
The work of a chapter is very closely related to that of a craft lodge, and
the Freemason finds a warm and comfortable home in and a safe and sacred
retreat in the chapter. The degrees afford historical and philosophical
background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry.
The degrees of
Past Master (Virtual) and
Most Excellent Master
are conferred in the chapter opened in the form of a lodge, using lodge-type
officer titles. The supreme degree of the
Holy Royal Arch is
conferred in a chapter of Holy Royal Arch Freemasons properly constituted in
its own configuration. In either case, the familiar blue of Craft Lodge regalia
is replaced by scarlet on the aprons and jewels in the chapter. Hence the
nicknames “blue lodge” and “red lodge” are still sometimes heard (particularly in
Canada and Europe).
Please click here to see chapter halls properly outfitted for conferral of the supreme degree of the Holy Royal Arch.
What attracts so many Brethren to seek further light in Royal Arch Freemasonry?
In your journey through the three degrees of Symbolic Freemasonry and as you have learned the
proficiency lecture for each degree, no doubt many questions have arisen concerning the meaning
of the ritualistic ceremonies, the historical implications and the “why” of the legends of
Royal Arch Freemasonry provides an opportunity for Master Masons desirous of further light to
explore some of the deeper mysteries of the Craft.
The four capitular degrees, in all of which candidates take
an active part, are truly some of the most profound and impressive in
The degree of
Mark Master is believed to be the oldest
degree in Freemasonry and to predate all others by many years. It is a continuation of the
lessons taught in
the Fellowcraft Degree (2°),
and of the legend of our
Grand Master Hiram Abif,
begun in the Master Mason’s degree (3°). Some grand lodges, including the
United Grand Lodge of England,
place so high an eminence on the
Mark Master degree that they confine it to
the jurisdiction of a separate grand body; in England, this is styled as the
Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
Many believe the Sublime Degree of Master Mason to be the ultimate degree of
Freemasonry, and all others to be added and explanatory. Most
Freemasonry agree that the story of the Craft, as presented in
the three degrees, is incomplete and that the degrees of the Royal Arch complete the story
and answer many of the questions in the mind of the newly made Master Mason. Royal Arch
Freemasonry contains some simple, plain statement of truth, easily understandable and helpful
in our relation to life. Lodge symbolism deals with lessons of the material side of life. The
capitular degrees, and particularly the
supreme degree of the Holy Royal Arch,
deal with the spiritual side of life. Offering the true completion of the ancient Craft, Royal
Arch Freemasonry is, therefore, the logical step for every Master Mason to take.
supreme degree of Holy Royal Arch Mason,
as the culmination of the capitular degrees, is the climax of Ancient Craft Freemasonry and
Masonic symbolism. It is described as “the root and marrow of Freemasonry.” It is during this
degree ritual that the greatest treasure of a Freemason is brought to light: the long lost
Master’s Word. The value of Royal Arch Freemasonry will be appreciated by all who are exalted
to that most supreme degree, particularly by those who are seeking to complete their Masonic
education. It reveals the full light of Ancient Craft Freemasonry, presents it as a complete
system in accordance with the original plan, and justly entitles you to truly claim the noble
name of Master Mason.
Royal Arch degree ritual itself, the
Lost Word of a Master Mason is rediscovered in a beautiful ceremony that takes the candidates
through the destruction of
King Solomon’s Temple,
seventy years of the Babylonian captivity,
and the ultimate return to the Holy Land to aid and assist in the
rebuilding of the Temple of the Most High.
The Holy Royal Arch degree is a natural
progression to reveal the “genuine” secrets following the granting of certain substituted ones.
No other degrees are so intimately linked with the Blue Lodge or have so ancient and noble a history.
supreme degree of Holy Royal Arch Mason
was considered most important in the early years of Freemasonry, following closely on the heels of the
which probably appeared in England around 1725, although many historians have traced the earliest
origins of the degree to Ireland, late in the 17th Century. In any event, the Holy Royal Arch
degree existed as a follow-up to introduce the
Second Temple, well
before the 1751 founding of the so-called
‘Antients’ Grand Lodge
(the “Mother Grand Lodge” from which all current grand lodges in the United States are descended),
and was included from the start in the Antients’ ritual as the 4°.
So dogmatic was the Mother Grand Lodge on the subject of the ne plus ultra status of the
Holy Royal Arch degree, that in 1813, when the two
Grand Lodges in England united, a
firm and solemn landmark was adopted and placed in the Articles of Union to guide Freemasons
throughout the world forever on this matter: “Pure Ancient Freemasonry consists of but three
degrees, viz. that of Entered Apprentice, Fellow craft, and Master Mason, including the
Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.” [emphasis added]. That statement is presumably
the origin of the remarks addressed to the candidate at the concluding stage of the exaltation
ceremony as it is practised in England: “You may perhaps imagine that you have this day taken a
fourth degree in Freemasonry, such however is not the case, it is the Master Masons’ completed.”
The intent was that every rite, system or additional degree in Freemasonry cannot confer its
degree on a Master Mason until he has been exalted as a Holy Royal Arch Mason. Naturally, we feel
this is as it should be, because a man is not truly a Master Mason until he receives the Master’s
Word and he can only receive it in the Holy Royal Arch. In the United States, this intent has
remained in practice within the scheme of orders, rites and bodies collectively known as the “York
Rite”. The additional orders – be they subject to petition such as
Cryptic Freemasonry (a.k.a. Royal & Select Masters)
chivalric orders (the Knights Templar)
(among others), or exclusive to invitation such as the
Allied Masonic Degrees and
Red Cross of Constantine
(among many others) – are closed to any
man who has not been exalted to the degree of the Holy Royal Arch.
If, after becoming a Royal Arch Freemason, you are desirous of continuing your studies, you may
take the cryptic degrees and the chivalric orders, all of which are illustrative of and carry
forward the principals of
the Holy Royal Arch.
Many historians have traced the earliest origins of the
Holy Royal Arch degree to Ireland,
late in the 17th century and in England in 1738. In 1752, ambulatory or military warrants for
lodges were introduced. This was instrumental in placing the
supreme degree of Holy Royal Arch Mason
on a par with that of Master Mason. Military lodges were greatly responsible for planting
Freemasonry in the Colonies, and also gave birth to use of the
Mark Master and
Holy Royal Arch Mason degrees in the
“New World” of the Americas. Lodge records show that the Holy Royal Arch degree was conferred at
Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 on 12 December
George Washington was raised in this lodge on 4 August of the same year.
Please click here to read articles on Holy Royal Arch degree from the Grand Chapter of Alberta.
Interested in Joining?
of Freemasons in your area. You may also
click here to hear audio presentations about Freemasonry. To
locate a Masonic lodge near you, click here.
If you are interested in joining the fraternity and
do not know any local Freemasons, please click here.
You will find a
petition form available for you by clicking here.
Grand Lodge’s closure of the
Royal Arch Memorial Hospital at
Mason Point (formerly known as the Illinois Masonic Home) in Sullivan,
the official charity of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of
Illinois has been the
Royal Arch Masons Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation into which
tax-deductable contributions are accepted. While the foundation's specific purposes are nominally
selected anew each year by the
Most Excellent Grand High Priest, each Grand High Priest has renewed the Grand
Chapter's commitment to researching and treating autism and autism spectrum disorders; the foundation
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Centre's autism treatment programme
Easter Seals Chicago autism therapeutic centre & school.
Click here for more information on our charitable works.