samedi 9 janvier 2010

Royal Arch (Holy) - Q&A

What is the historical context of The Holy Royal Arch?

The Holy Royal Arch has been practiced since at least 1738 in England and at least 1753 in America. Some of the earliest Masonic records date the origins of the Royal Arch Degree to Ireland, in the late 17th century. American Lodge records show that the Royal Arch Degree was conferred at the Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 on the 22nd of December, 1753. This is the same Virginian lodge that George Washington was "raised" on the August 4th of the same year. We know that the Royal Arch was an extremely important degree to the "Antients." Its validity and importance was part of the struggle between the United Grand Lodge of England and the "Antients." This dispute was resolved in 1818 with a compromise which reads: "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."

Why is it called The Holy Royal Arch?

The name of the Holy Royal Arch Degree has been often debated. Certainly a central part of the symbolism of the Chapter is the "keystone arch" as shown in the drawing below. But this may be just part of the story. In his excellent Restorations of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry (sic) Bromwell makes excellent arguments on this ic. These arguments run both etymologically and in terms of symbolism, and indicate that it wasn't the "arch" in the old woodcut below, but probably the "ark" which is the central focus of this degree. The true origins of this degree are lost to history. But one of these symbols seems to fit the description of "Holy, Royal and ARK" more than the other.

What Does "Holiness to the Lord" signify?

The motto of the Holy Royal Arch is "Holiness to the Lord." This is a phrase found often in the old testament. First on the graven plate on Aaron's forehead in Exodus, then in Zechariah, and then often throughout the old testament. In the picture to the left, the phrase "Kodes La Adonia" adorns the coat of arms of the "Antients." This translates from the Hebrew as "Holiness to God."

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