The History of the Order of Rose Croix of Heredom
The Ancient and Accepted Rite derives from of the Rite of Perfection, which developed in France mainly in the quarter-century before September 1762. Its constitution, and the rituals for its twenty-five degrees, were formalised by Francken in a manuscript bearing that date, though probably written somewhat later. It was followed by The Grand Constitutions of 1786, dated May 1786, which describe the Ancient and Accepted Rite, consisting of thirty-three degrees, largely as it exists today. This document was presented as the product of a Council meeting under the titular direction of Frederick the Great. The original has not been found, and the copies seem to date from nearer to 1800.
In May 1801, in Charleston, the first Supreme Council following the Grand Constitutions was opened (now known as The Southern Jurisdiction of the USA). It was followed by France (1804), Spain (1811) and the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the USA (1813). Ireland (1826) was the sixth, England and Wales (1845) — receiving its Patent from the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction — was the eleventh and Scotland (1846) the twelfth. There are now independent Supreme Councils in over 60 countries.
The oldest Chapter in Somerset is St. Peter and St. Paul Chapter No6 meeting at Bath under a warrant from the Supreme Chapter dated 21st March 1852. The youngest is St. George of Wiveliscombe Chapter No 1173 under a warrant dated 8th September 2005.
The ‘Rose Croix’ Degree is the 18th of a series of 33 degrees, originating in France and which in 1801 were formed into the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. When these degrees were developed in the 18th century, their members were Christian even though many of their themes, as in Craft Masonry, dealt with the pre-Christian era and had no connection with Christianity. Since 1801 some Supreme Councils have reverted to the universality of Craft Masonry and allow members of all religions to join but The Supreme Council 33º for England and Wales and its Districts and Chapters Overseas within its jurisdiction and which controls the Ancient and Accepted Rite ( “A and A R”) (the word Scottish did not appear in its patent) have never considered such a change since its formation in 1845 and members must belong to the Trinitarian Christian faith.
The Rose Croix ceremony (the ceremony of Perfection) is the only ceremony which can be worked in full by a Chapter. The first three degrees of Craft Masonry are accepted by The Supreme Council for England and Wales as the equivalents of the first three degrees of the A and A R and the intervening degrees from the 4º to the 17º (known as the Intermediate Degrees) are conferred by name.
The Rose Croix degree is first recorded in England in about 1770. The Knights Templar degrees, also Christian, were starting in England at about the same time and eventually the Rose Croix degree took its place as the final or ne plus ultra degree of the English Knights Templar encampments. After 1845 however Rose Croix Chapters gradually moved to their present position as the 18º of the Ancient and Accepted Rite.
The ceremony, which seeks the Perfection of Christian virtues in Faith, Hope and Charity, is an immensely thought provoking, impressive and beautiful ceremony which instils a warmth of Brotherly love on which the whole Masonic movement is founded.
All degrees of the Rite from 4º – 33º are the entire responsibility of the Supreme Council. They were developed during the period 1730-1801; the majority before 1780. The 4º – 13º may be considered as extensions of the Master Masons legend referring to the completion of the Temple at Jerusalem under King Solomon’s direction. The 14º – 16º refer to the rebuilding of the Temple and were developed in France at about the same time and used the same material as the Royal Arch degree in England. The 17º is a mystical preparation for the 18º.
Between 1760 and 1780 the basic rituals of the 18º-25º were completed. Some are entirely Christian and most have some references to Christianity. Under the authority of the Grand Constitutions of 1786 the degrees were expanded to 33 to form the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite with the formation of the American Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in Charleston,USA , in 1801.