The Patron Saints of Freemasonry
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Evangelist
St. John the Almoner (to others)
SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
One of the patron saints of Freemasonry, and at one time, indeed, the only one, the name of St. John the Evangelist having been introduced subsequent to the 16th century. His festival occurs on the 24th of June, and is very generally celebrated by the Masonic Fraternity.
Dalcho says that “the stern integrity of St. John the Baptist, which induced him to forego every minor consideration in discharging the obligations he owed to God; the unshaken firmness with which he met martyrdom rather than betray his duty to his Master; his steady reproval of vice, and continued preaching of repentance and virtue, make him a fit patron of the Masonic institution.”
The Charter of Cologne says: “We celebrate, annually, the memory of St. John, the Forerunner of Christ and the Patron of our Community.”
The Knights Hospitalers also dedicated their Order to him; and the ancient expression of our ritual, which speaks of a “Lodge of the Holy St. John of Jerusalem,” probably refers to the same saint.
Krause, in his Kunsturkunden, gives abundant historical proofs that the earliest Masons adopted St. John the Baptist, and not St. John the Evangelist, as their patron.
It is worthy of note that the Grand Lodge of England was revived on St. John the Baptist’s Day, 1717, and that the annual feast was kept on that day until 1725, when it was held for the first time on the festival of the Evangelist.
Lawrie says that the Scottish Masons always kept the festival of the Baptist until 1737, when the Grand Lodge changed the time of the annual election to St. Andrew’s Day.
SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST
One of the patron saints of Freemasonry, whose festival is celebrated on the 27th of December. His constant admonition in his Epistles, to the cultivation of Brotherly Love, and the mystical nature of his Apocalyptic visions, have been, perhaps, the principal reasons for the veneration paid to him by the Craft.
Notwithstanding a well-known tradition, all documentary evidence shows the connection of the name of the Evangelist with the Masonic Order is to be dated long after the 16th century, before which time St. John the Baptist was exclusively the patron saint of Masonry.
The two are, however, now always united, for reasons set forth in the article on the Dedication of Lodges, which see.
SAINT JOHN THE ALMONER
The son of the King of Cyprus, and born in that island in 6th century. He was elected Patriarch of Alexandria, and has been canonized by both the Greek and the Roman churches, his festival among the former occurring on the 11th of November, and among the latter on the 23rd of January.
Bazot thinks that it is this saint, and not St. John the Evangelist or St. John the Baptist, who is meant as the true patron of our Order.
“He quitted his country and the hope of a throne,” says Bazot, “to go to Jerusalem, that he might generously aid and assist the knights and the pilgrims. He founded a hospital and organized a fraternity to attend upon sick and wounded Christians, and to bestow pecuniary aid upon the pilgrims who visited the Holy Sepulcher.”
“St. John, who was worthy to become the patron of a society whose only object is charity, exposed his life a thousand times in the cause of virtue. Neither war, nor pestilence, nor the fury of the infidels, could deter him from pursuits of benevolence.”
“But death, at length, arrested him in the midst of his labors. Yet he left the example of his virtues to the brethren, who have made it their duty to endeavor to immitate them. Rome canonized him under the name of St. John the Almoner, or St. John of Jerusalem; by the Masons — whose temples, overthrown by the barbarians, he had cause to rebuilt — selected him with one accord as their patron.”
Oliver, however, very properly shows the error of appropriating the patronage of Masonry to the saint, since the festivals of the Order are June 24th and December 27th, while those of St. John the Almoner are January 23rd and November 11th.
He has, however, been selected as the patron of the Masonic Order of the Templars, and their Commanderies are dedicated to his honor on account of his charity to the poor, whom he called his “Masters,” because he owed them all service, and on account of his establishment of hospitals for the succor of pilgrims in the East.