Vol. XXXVI No. 6 — June 1958

Some “Saints” Lodges

This Bulletin is abstracted from the much more inclusive Digest of The Masonic Service Association, entitled Masonic Hagiology, September 1954

The Standard Dictionary defines saint as “A holy or godly person; one of great moral and religious purity; one who has been sanctified.”

The same book defines martyr as “One who submits to death rather than foreswear his religion; one of the early Christians who suffered death for their religion.”

Some saint names are taken from towns so-called; the towns, in turn, were named from European municipalities; the same is true of some saint names that insure the fame of some man whose name is honored by becoming that of a lodge. The Digest from which these pages are abstracted attempts to consider only saints so-named by religious organizations (except two — St. Tammany and St. Aspinquid, neither of which is upon any church calendar.)

One lodge in the United States is named after the real Patron Saint of masons (not Freemasons) and architects — St. Thomas, whose symbol is the square. This is St. Thomas Lodge No. 54, of Roslyn, Washington.

St. Thomas is the Apostle and Patron Saint of Portugal and of Parma as well as of masons and architects. His festival is celebrated on December 21st.

Thomas was one of the twelve apostles; the disciple of Jesus who doubted, hence the phrase, a doubting Thomas, applied to a sceptic.

Besides what is known of St. Thomas from the New Testament, tradition avers that after the Ascension he traveled into India where among others he baptized the three Magi and founded the Christian sect that is still known there by his name.

According to one legend, when the apostle was at Caesarea it was revealed to him that he should go to Gondoforus, King of the Indies, and undertake the building of a splendid palace that the king desired. He accordingly went to the king who intrusted him with the building of the palace and gave him much treasure. The king then went away for two years and meantime Thomas distributed the treasure to the poor. When the king returned he was enraged and threw the saint into a dungeon. Soon after, the king’s brother died and four days later appeared to the king in a dream and told him of a glorious palace of gold and silver that Thomas had built for him in heaven. Gondoforus then released Thomas.

Still another legend relates that he once saw a huge beam of timber floating on the sea near the coast. The king was unsuccessful in his endeavors, with men and elephants, to haul it ashore and so gave Thomas permission to use it in the building of a church, whereupon Thomas dragged it easily ashore with a piece of packthread.

On account of these legends he is represented as having as his symbol the builder’s square.

The greatest number of lodges taking the same name from the list of saints have chosen St. John. The reader has to guess whether some of the St. John lodges — 57 in number — are of the Evangelist or the Baptist, except one — St. John the Baptist Lodge No. 184, Valdosta, Georgia. These St. John lodges use all varieties of the name; St. John, Sts. John, St. John’s, Saints John, etc. There is also a St. Johnsville Lodge No. 611, in the town of that name in New York.

The Digest decribes some of the more picturesque saints as follows:

St. Andrew is the Patron of Scotland and Russia. His feast is celebrated on November 30th, the reputed day of his death. Scripture informs us that he was the son of Jonas, a fisherman of Bethsaida in Galilee, and the brother of Simon Peter. Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus, a circumstance that has invested him with special eminence. They abode a day with the Saviour, and subsequently accompanied Him to the marriage at Cana, after which they returned to their trade as fishermen. Some months later, Jesus, meeting them while they were fishing, called them to Him promising to make them fishers of men. Thereupon they left their nets and followed Him.

After the Ascension there is no further scriptural mention of St. Andrew, but tradition assigns Scythia, Greece, and Thrace as the scenes of his missionary labors, and asserts that he was martyred at Patrae, in Achaia, on November 30, A.D. 70.

The Roman proconsul, it is said, angered because St. Andrew had converted his wife Maximilia, caused him to be first flogged and then crucified. The cross upon which he suffered was of the form called decussate (shaped like the letter X). He was fastened to it by cords instead of nails, to produce a lingering death by hunger and thirst. The legend goes on to say that Maximilia caused the body to be decently interred, and for many years manna came out from his tomb, together with a fragrant oil, and when these were abundant the crops for that season were good, but if not the crops also were scanty.

He is depicted in Christian art as an old man with long, white hair and beard, holding the Gospel in his right hand, and leaning on a cross like the letter X, termed St. Andrew’s cross.

The following lodges have, apparently, been named after St. Andrew: St. Andrew’s No. 64, Winsted, Connecticut; St. Andrews No. 863, Chicago, Illinois; St. Andrew’s No. 18, Cynthiana, Kentucky; Saint Andrews No. 256, Mer Rouge, Louisiana; St. Andrew’s No. 83, Bangor, Maine; The lodge of Saint Andrew, Boston, Massachusetts; St. Andrews No. 96, Shelbyville, Missouri; Saint Andrew’s No. 56, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; St. Andrew's No. 289, Hobart, New York; St. Andrew’s No. 619, Springfield, Ohio; Saint Andrews No. 39, Riverside, Rhode Island; St. Andrews No. 367, Charleston, South Carolina; St. Andrews No. 208, Yankton, South Dakota; St. Andrew's No. 35, Renton, Washington.

Through the courtesy of G. Howard Dunning, secretary of Saint Aspinquid Lodge No. 198, of York Village, Maine, comes an abstract from “The Legend of Saint Aspinquid” by Katherine E. Marshall.

The legend of Saint Aspinquid has long been a part of Old York’s catalogue of events. Their Patron Saint was an Indian lad, a member of the powerful tribe of the Algonquin family. Born in 1588, he followed the usual life of an Indian brave. At the age of forty-three, coming under the influence of John Eliot, a noted preacher of the Gospel, he accepted Christianity.

After this he traveled among the forest tribes, doing good wherever he went. He lived to a great age and became an object of veneration. He ministered to sixty-six different Indian tribes, healing the sick and performing such miracles that in the opinion of the white man, he was endowed with supernatural powers.

He returned to Old York to Mount Agamenticus at almost the century mark to die. Here he gathered his tribes together from all over the country. Tradition says that there were between six and seven thousand wild animals, birds, fish and reptiles from the Atlantic to the Californian Sea offered up in sacrifice that day.

The last words of the aged saint were in advice in his unsuccessful attempt to reconcile his race with the white race as well as the following: “Light not the fires of vengeance in your hearts, For sure the flame will turn against yourselves. Be prudent, wise and always slow to strike.”

With this advice he left them, and his epitaph, which might have been seen as late as 1790, was concise but picturesque:

Present Useful
Absent Wanted
Lived Desired
Dead Lamented

A cave was his grave and today a rude cairn of rocks shows the spot where he was buried. During the summer season many trips are made to the summit of Agamenticus where visitors sometimes drop a stone on the cairn as a tribute to the pioneer missionary and the Patron Saint of Old York.

Living at the foot of Agamenticus are several families. Direct descendants of their Scottish and English ancestors, they still speak a language that contains many words of pure English origin.

Apparently only one lodge has been named after this early American saint.

St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was Founder of the Franciscan Order of monks. His festival is celebrated on October 4th, the anniversary of his death. St. Francis was born at Assisi, in Umbria, the son of a rich wool merchant. In his youth Francis was of a happy disposition and fond of pleasure. He fought in a war that broke out between Perugia and Assisi, was taken prisoner, and was incarcerated in a dungeon for a year. He subsequently became very ill, and his thoughts turned toward a religious life. He gave alms to the poor, and began to devote himself to the repairing of churches. He was thought by his family to be insane, and his father took him to the bishop, in whose presence Francis declared that henceforth he had no father, save his Father in heaven.

Adopting a coarse brown robe, he devoted himself to the care of the poor and sick and to preaching. He soon gained followers, and founded the order that after some delay gained the approval of Pope Innocent III. He called his order "Fratri Minori,” and established a rule with three vows — of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In 1219, St. Francis went to preach to the Muslims; he was taken before the Sultan, and he offered to enter a fire with the priests of Islam to prove the truth of his creed. The Sultan sent him back to Italy.

It was said that on his return to Assisi he beheld a vision of the crucifixion, and ever afterwards bore the stigmata of nails on his hands and feet and a wound in his side. He died on October 4, 1226, and was buried by his own request among malefactors outside the walls of his native city. Ten years later the church of San Francesco was built in his honor.

Another St. Francis (Xavier) is Patron Saint and Apostle of India, and one of the greatest names in the history of missionary enterprise. His festival is celebrated on December 3rd, though he died on December 2nd. A member of a noble family of Navarre, St. Francis was born at the ancestral castle of Xavier. At the age of twenty he became professor of philosophy at Beauvais. Among his pupils was Ignatius Loyola, who gradually gained a great influence over him and induced him to enter the religious life, and he became a member of the Society of Jesus that Loyola founded. He was sent by Loyola to India, whence he traveled to Japan. Many miracles are said to have been worked by him, and he made many converts. He died while on his way to China, on the island of Sanchan. His body was interred on the shore, but was later taken to Goa and placed in the college of St. Paul on March 15, 1554. He was beatified by Paul V in 1554 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1662.

The following lodges have, apparently, been named after one or another St. Francis: St. Francis No. 404, St. Francis, Kansas; St. Francisville No. 588, Wayland, Missouri; St. Francois No. 234, Farmington, Missouri.

St. George is the Patron Saint of England and has been so since about the time of the institution of the Order of the Garter, when he was “adopted” by Edward III. He is also Patron Saint of Germany and Venice and of soldiers and armorers. His festival is celebrated on April 23rd, the supposed anniversary of his martyrdom.

St. George was probably a Cappadocian who suffered his martyrdom under Diocletian in 303. There are various versions, one saying that he was a tribune and that he was asked to come and subdue a dragon that infested a pond at Silene, Libya, and fed on the dwellers in the neighborhood. St. George came, rescued a princess whom the dragon was about to make its prey, and slew the monster.

(The legend of St. George and the dragon is simply an allegorical expression of the triumph of the Christian hero over evil, which St. John the Divine beheld under the image of a dragon.)

That St. George is an historical character is beyond all reasonable doubt, but the somewhat hesitating assertion of Gibbon that the Patron Saint of England was George of Cappadocia, the turbulent Arian bishop of Alexandria, who was torn to pieces by the populace in 360 and revered as a saint by the opponents of Athanasius, has been fully disproved.

St. George is now believed to have been an official in Diocletian’s army, martyred April 23, A.D. 304. Another story is that he was first submitted to various tortures, but through miraculous intervention they all proved incapable of hurting him. He was then taken to assist at the heathen sacrifices in the temple, and crowds came to witness his humiliation, but a flash of lightning from heaven destroyed the temple, and with it many of his enemies.

The following lodges have, apparently, been named after St. George: St. George No. 1105, Chicago, Illinois; St. George No. 239, Louisville, Kentucky; St. George No. 16, Warren, Maine; Saint George, Brockton, Massachusetts; St. Georges No. 6, Schenectady, New York.

There were two of the twelve disciples of Christ named James. The Apostle St. James the Great, who was the brother of John and son of Zebedee, is the patron saint of Spain, and of pilgrims to Jerusalem. His reputed death-day, July 25, A.D. 42, is one of the great national holidays of Spain.

St. James, elder brother of St. John the Evangelist, was of note among the twelve disciples, being, with Peter and John, one of the three favorite disciples whom Jesus chose to witness the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the transfiguration and the agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I.

To these facts of gospel history tradition has added many marvelous details. After the Ascension he is said to have gone to Spain to preach the Gospel and, having established the faith there, he returned to meet his death in Jerusalem. His disciples placed the saint’s body in a ship that angels miraculously guided to Padron, on the coast of Spain. A knight saw the ship sailing into port, his horse took fright and plunged with its rider into the sea. The knight saved himself by “boarding the marble vessel,” but his clothes were found to be entirely covered with scallop shells.

The saint’s body was discovered in 840 by divine revelation to Bishop Theodomi’rus, and a church was built at Compostella for its shrine. The distinguishing badge of pilgrims to this shrine was a scallop shell worn on the cloak or hat. The adoption of this badge is accounted for by the old legend on the ground that when the miraculous ship bearing St. James’ body arrived at Padron it was encrusted with scallop shells.

The following lodges have, apparently, been named after St. James: St. James No. 23, Norwich, Connecticut; St. James No. 47, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Saint James, Mansfield, Massachusetts; St. James No. 230, St. James, Missouri; St. James No. 457, Beaver, Pennsylvania; St. James No. 275, McClellanville, South Carolina; St. James No. 41, East Troy, Wisconsin.

The Apostle and Patron Saint of Ireland was not an Irishman, but was born to Calpurnius, a deacon and Roman official, about 373. As a boy St. Patrick was captured in a raid and sold as a slave in Ireland. He escaped to Gaul about 395 where he studied under St. Martin at Tours.

He had a supernatural call to preach to the heathen of Ireland, was consecrated and in 432 landed at Wicklow. It is not even known whether March 17th is the date of his death or birth, although it is sometimes said to be both.

So many conflicting legends have been woven into his story that is now generally assumed that there were two or more St. Patricks who have been rolled into one. Patricius, the Latin name, simply means a patrician and may have then been the sobriquet of any Christian apostle of aristocratic lineage. Nevertheless, there was some one commanding personality toward whom all the myths naturally gravitated.

He was a statesman as well as a priest and addressed himself first to the chiefs and through them reached the people. He understood how to adapt the superstitions and pagan rites to the teachings of the Church and one of his first doings was to light a Paschal fire on the Hill of Slane in opposition to a Druidical fire on the Hill of Tara.

His work in Ireland may be summed up by saying that he founded 365 churches and planted a school by the side of each; that he organized at least one archi-episcopal see, that of Armagh; consecrated two or more bishops; established one or two colleges; and civilized the people generally.

In commemoration of the best known tradition, that he cleared Ireland of its snakes, St. Patrick is usually represented as banishing the serpents with a shamrock leaf, in allusion to the tradition that when explaining the Trinity to heathen priests of Tara, he used this as a symbol.

The following lodges have, apparently, been named after St. Patrick: St. Patrick’s No. 4, Johnstown, New York; St. Patrick’s No. 617, Princeton, North Carolina.

Question Box

This column will attempt to answer questions about Freemasonry.

What is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah?

Judah was symbolized as a lion in his father’s deathbed blessing. The lion was upon the standard of the large and powerful tribe of Judah. “Lion of the Tribe of Judah” was one of Solomon’s titles. Christian interpretation of the phrase springs from Revelation 5:5: “Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Juda (Juda — King James version), the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

The idea of a resurrection is curiously interwoven with the lion in all ages and was connected with resurrection long before the Man of Galilee walked upon the earth. In ancient Egypt, a lion raised Osiris from a dead level to a living perpendicular by a grip of his paw; Egyptian carvings show a figure standing behind the altar, observing the raising of the dead, with its left arm raised, forming the angle of a square.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, considered as signifying a coming redeemer who would spring from the tribe, or meaning the King of Israel who built the Temple, or symbolizing the Christ, must not be confused with the Lion’s Paw, which is a symbol of the Mystic Tie, the bond between Masons, the strength that comes from unity.

What is the symbolism of the ashlars?

In architecture, an ashlar is a squared stone. Masonically, the ashlars are “rough” — not dressed, squared, or polished — and “perfect” ready for use in wall or other structure. The information given in most rituals is scanty and does not include the greater meanings that symbolists find in these two stones. Students direct attention to the fact that perfect ashlar is made from the rough ashlar entirely by a process of taking away, removal of unwanted material. Nothing is added to a rough ashlar to make it perfect. The analogy to the Mason, who is a building stone in the spiritual temple of Masonry, is that the perfect man is within the rough man, and that perfection is to be obtained by a process of taking away the "vices and superfluities of life.” Every beautiful statue ever carved from stone was always within that stone, needing only the tool of the artist to take away the material not wanted and leave the statue, which was there since the stone was first formed. Compare Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is within you.”

The Masonic Service Association of North America