Florida Chapter № 1 – Royal Arch Masons

Chartered 1836, then Chartered at the city of Jacksonville, Florida on the 17th of January, 1887

Companions meet on the second Thursday of even months.

The degrees included within the framework of Royal Arch Masonry are:

  • The Mark Master Mason degree, which is sometimes said to be an expansion of the Fellow Crafts’ second degree.
  • The Past Master’s degree is bestowed because of the old requirement that only Past Masters of a Symbolic Lodge may join the Royal Arch. (This is a virtual degree created to conform with tradition, and it confers no rights as a Past Master in a Blue Lodge.)
  • The Most Excellent Master degree, wherein the building of King Solomon’s Temple has been completed.
  • The Royal Arch Mason degree, said by many to be the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry.

By joining the York Rite, a Master Mason may proceed to supplement and expand upon the degrees of the Blue Lodge.

The symbolism of the Royal Arch picks up where the Symbolic Lodge leaves off. The symbolism of the Blue Lodge degrees emphasizes the building of King Solomon’s. Royal Arch Masonry (known as Capitular Masonry) continues in this vein by emphasizing symbols and allegories of the Second Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, further symbolism of Solomon’s temple completed, and the Lost Word (also called the Master’s Word) — which is given to the Royal Arch Mason.

Within York Rite Masonry, the Royal Arch Degree is described as the Master Mason’s Degree completed. This is due to the fact that up until 1767, the Master Mason Degree of the Blue Lodge contained the secrets of the Royal Arch. Nowadays, these same secrets form a part of the teachings of the Royal Arch.

In England, the Royal Arch Mason degree is automatically included in the Master Mason’s Degree. In 1813, the Mother Grand Lodge of England stated it in no uncertain terms: “Ancient Craft Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, namely, those of the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason including the Holy Royal Arch.” It is a natural progression of Freemasonry’s primary theme.

No other degree has been officially recognized by the Mother Grand Lodge — this landmark remains to this day. No additional Rites and Degrees can be bestowed upon a Master Mason until he has received the Royal Arch Degree. This is perfectly logical because a man is not a Master Mason until he receives the Master’s Word. This is something a Mason can only receive in the Royal Arch. Within Capitular Masonry are contained the essentials of symbolism, allegory, and philosophy that a Master Mason requires in order to understand those teachings which have only been partially given to him in the Blue Lodge.

In architectural symbolism, the capstone is the crowing stone of an entire structure or wall. It is for this reason that Royal Arch Masonry is called “the Capstone of Ancient Craft Masonry” or the Capitular Rite.

After the degrees of Royal Arch Masonry, the second set of degrees within York Rite Masonry encompasses the degrees of the Council of Royal and Select Masters. These degrees expound upon the Royal Arch degree and, to a lesser extent, the Master Mason degree. They are often said to be among Masonry’s most beautiful and impressive ceremonies, complete one’s education in Ancient Craft Masonry. The degrees of the Council comprises what is called Cryptic Masonry or the Cryptic Rite because a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees. The symbolic foundation of these rites is the subterranean Vault constructed by King Solomon as a stockpile for certain secret knowledge which was guarded by a select priesthood.