Masonic Saints John

St. John has always been a popular and much used name among Freemasons. An Entered Apprentice is asked from where he came and the answer — from a lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem.

The name St. John came to be used for what is called Ancient, Pure or Craft Masonry, meaning that it has not been despoiled by innovations, particularly in the so-called higher degrees as the Scottish and York Rites. In that way, some lodges were called St. John to indicate that they were of the Craft type, working the three degrees of St. John Masonry. This usage appears in the constitution of the Grand Lodge of Scotland as late as 1845 where it declares that body practices and recognizes no degrees of Masonry but those of Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. The workings in the Grand Lodge of the Philippines resemble that of Scotland, when the Bible and Altar were instituted in the lodges, the point within a circle and the parallel lines representing the Holy Saints John, occupy a regular place in the Preston and Webb lectures.

The Gothic Legends related back to the building of King Solomon's Temple approximately 1,000 years before there was a St. John but, nevertheless, the first legendary lodge was said to be that of St. John, presumably meaning a lodge at Jerusalem dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In some places, St. John the Evangelist, also called the Mystic, was deemed more to be revered and was substituted. In other places, it was not known why there should be any necessity for choice, so that both were adopted as Patron Saints and lodges came to be dedicated to the Holy Saints John and were supposed to be replicas of some Lodge of the Holy Saints John at Jerusalem.

June 24 is the date designated to celebrate the feast of St. John, the Baptist, and December 27 is the date designated to celebrate the feast of St. John, the Evangelist.

Until 1904, lodges of the Grand Lodge of Virginia held the election of officers in June and installed them on June 24th. Many held both the election and installation on the same date, June 24th. Fraternal Lodge, No. 53, on occasion held the elec tion and installation in the early morning, celebrating the feast with breakfast.

Today, some lodges hold their election and installation of officers on the Feast date of St. John, the Evangelist, December the 27th.

It is a pity that we do not celebrate these two festivals of the Holy Saints John with feasting or Table Lodges on their designated days.