Royal Arch Masonry Degrees
These are the degrees in Royal Arch Masonry:
- Mark Master Mason
- Most Excellent Master
- The Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch
Mark Master Mason
Evidence indicates that there was a form of the Mark Degree in existence as early as 1599. Its present form has evolved over the years from 1769, through the union in 1813, and the Concordant in 1860 to the present day.
The Mark Degree chronologically follows the Fellow Craft Degree and is one of the oldest degrees of Freemasonry. The Degree appears to have grown out of an ancient ceremony in which each Craftsmen selected a private mark with which to designate his work and this mark was fully registered with the constituted authority.
The legend of the Mark Degree is singularly instructive and is well founded on statements of Holy Writ relating to a period in the building of the Temple before the death of Hiram Abif. It teaches the lesson that education is the reward for labour and it contains a dramatic message that fraud can never succeed.
The symbol of the degree is the Penny.
Most Excellent Master
This degree deals with the completion of the first Temple, it celebrates the completion and dedication of the whole structure and the placing of the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place.
The title of Most Excellent Master was bestowed upon those workmen who had proven themselves to be proficient and outstanding masters of their profession.
The degree is based upon Biblical and historical facts and is presented in a manner designed to carry nearer to completion that character building, the foundation of which was laid in the preceding degrees.
The symbol of the degree is the Keystone.
The Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch
Dating from 1752 the Royal Arch was for a long time an appendage to the Third Degree, being regarded by the Ancients as a Fourth Degree conferred in their Lodges.
Over its long history from the earliest days of Masonry it has become the most talked of, and written about Degree in Freemasonry. For many Masons, it is still regarded as the ultimate of the Craft system, having on numerous occasions, been described as “the most sacred part of Masonry” and “the root, heart and marrow of Masonry”.
The Royal Arch Degree deals with a lengthly period following the ending of Solomon’s reign. The Temple at Jerusalem has been destroyed, the Kingdom of Judea divided, and the tribes taken into captivity. Babylon eventually fell to Cyrus the Great and became part of the Persian Empire. Cyrus set free the Jewish captives and invited them to return to Jerusalem to commence rebuilding the temple.
The legend sets out to restore the genuine secrets of a Master Mason and this is accomplished by workmen who make a momentous discovery during their labours and an interesting and illuminating explanation of the nature of God is conveyed.
The symbol of this degree is the Triple Tau.