dyk

divOn graveyard tombstones and mausoleum vaults you may have seen the markings of the square and compasses indicating that the deceased was a member of the Craft. If the deceased never obtained the Third Degree, should the square and compasses be positioned differently?

In regard to Masonic Funerals, the Ahiman Rezon of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania states, "No Brother can be interred with the ceremonies of the Fraternity, unless he has advanced to the degree of a Master Mason, and at the time of his decease was a member of a Lodge, and in good Masonic standing, unless by a dispensation from the Grand Master." Therefore, we can only assume that should a brother desire to have the square and compasses on his tombstone, he would first need to be in accordance with the Ahiman Rezon upon his death, thus the square and compasses would be positioned according to the Third Degree.

Historically, however, the square and compasses has been used on tombstones, mausoleum vaults, signage, etc., positioned in the form of any one of the Three Degrees. According to Mark A. Tabbert, Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections at The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, MA, the square and compasses emblem has been used on signage in the position of any one of the Three Degrees, not necessarily used to depict a certain degree, but used at the discretion of the sign-maker by whichever was more simple to work with. An example of a square and compasses emblem being used and not denoting the deceased brother's standing in Freemasonry can be seen on the tombstone of Bro. Nathaniel Bedford, a Pennsylvania Mason in 1820(?) who was the first doctor in Pittsburgh and is interred at the Episcopal Diocese Cathedral graveyard in Pittsburgh. Bro. Bedford's tombstone has the square and compasses in the position of an Entered Apprentice Mason, but Bro. Bedford died a Master Mason. It has not been until more recent years that Grand Lodges have begun to set regulations on the proper uses of the square and compasses. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has no regulations pertaining to the use of the square and compasses for the deceased. (Source: Ahiman Rezon, Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of PA, and The Scottish Rite Museum of Our National Heritage, MA.)

divWhere did the term "lodge" come from?

As with many things we can only speculate as to where the word "lodge" derived. Dictionaries say that it probably came from the buildings, or huts, where the craftsmen worked and lived. Lodges of masons are mentioned at York Minster in 1352; at Canterbury Cathedral in 1429; at the Church of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen in 1483; and at St. Giles, Edinburgh in 1491. "Lodge" first referred to non-permanent bodies, but gradually reverted to fixed localities, such as Edinburgh in 1598. (Source: The Short Talk Bulletin ­ Masonic Trivia, The Masonic Service Association of North America, Silver Spring, MD, Sept. 1993)

menu