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SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

One of the Patron Saints of Freemasonry, and at one time, indeed, the only one, the name of Saint John the Evangelist having been introduced subsequent to the sixteenth century. His festival occurs on the 24th of June, and is very generally celebrated by the Masonic Fraternity. Dalcho (Ahiman Rezon, page 150) says that "the stern integrity of Saint 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 Saint John, the Forerunner of Christ and the Patron of our Community." The Knights Hospitaller also dedicated their Order to him; and the ancient expression of our instructions, which speaks of a "Lodge of the Holy Saint John of Jerusalem," probably refers to the same saint.

Krause, in his Kunsturkunden (pages 295 to 305), gives abundant historical proofs that the earliest Freemasons adopted Saint John the Baptist, and not Saint John the Evangelist as their patron. It is worthy of note that the Grand Lodge of England was revived on Saint John the Baptist's Day, in 1717 (Constitutions, 1738, page 109), 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 (see page 119 of the above edition). Lawrie says (history of Freemasonry, page 152) that the Scottish Freemasons always kept the festival of the Baptist until 1737, when the Grand Lodge changed the time of the annual election to Saint Andrew's Day.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


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