Royal Arch FAQs
In the Book of Constitutions given to every Craft Mason under the English Constitution it states by way of a Preliminary Declaration that, on the Act of Union between the two Grand Lodges in December 1813
“Pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, ie: those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.”
With only one or two very minor amendments in more recent years, this Declaration has stood the test of time for almost 200 years. However, following a strategic review of the Holy Royal Arch during 2007, it was recommended that a clearer emphasis was needed to establish beyond doubt the inseparable bond between the Craft and the Royal Arch. To this end, a re-positioning statement was approved to support the earlier Preliminary Declaration to read:
“The Order of the Holy Royal Arch is an integral part of Pure Ancient Masonry, being the completion of Craft Masonry, and the essential next step in Freemasonry for all Master Masons”
The Holy Royal Arch therefore provides the vehicle by which the last part of the journey through Pure Ancient Masonry is completed. It is not an optional extra but the means by which a Master Mason completes his basic Masonic knowledge and experience.
The Holy Royal Arch is perhaps better recognised by its generic name of Chapter. As Craft Masons meet in a Lodge and address themselves as Brother, then members of the Holy Royal Arch meet in Chapters and refer to themselves as Companions.
In the first degree of Craft, the candidate is initiated into the Order. Thereafter, he is passed and raised. When he is admitted into the Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch, he is exalted.
A member of the Royal Arch is immediately recognised by his distinctive Royal Arch breast jewel and which is the only jewel permitted to be worn both in Chapters and Craft Lodges.
The breast jewel ribbon varies according to the rank of the Companion:
- Grand Officers and Provincial Grand Officers – a striped ribbon of dark blue, crimson and light blue
- Principals or Past Principals of a Chapter – a ribbon of plain crimson
- All other Companions – a plain white ribbon
More often than not, a Chapter is closely allied to a specific Craft Lodge and from which it takes both its name and number.
In the three degrees of Craft, a candidate is taught to address his worldly attributes – the moral code by which we conduct ourselves, our relationship with our fellow man and society at large, the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves and a code of conduct throughout life based on the five points of fellowship and the three great principals by which we live – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
In the Royal Arch, we are invited to reflect and contemplate on our own spiritual well being – our individual relationship with God in whatever form our Supreme Being presents himself to us. In the Craft degrees, we illustrate our teachings through the re-enactment of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. In the Royal Arch, we adorn that magnificent edifice with spiritual awareness and meaning.
A simple introduction to the Royal Arch is set out in a leaflet intended for every Master Mason immediately after his Raising with an invitation to consider exaltation into a Chapter when the importance and the implications of the three Degrees in Craft are better understood.
The invitation will again be extended on raising to the Third Degree in the form of a joint letter signed by both the Provincial Grand Master and the Most Excellent Grand Superintendent explaining how the Royal Arch should be considered the logical progression towards the completion of Masonic advancement.
There are 70 Chapters in the Province of South Wales, most being attached to a Craft Lodge where both share the same Lodge and Chapter number, and usually the same name. Some Brethren prefer to join a Chapter where they are well known whilst others can choose to join at a different location altogether.
Whichever you choose, you will make new friends as more than just one Lodge supports each Chapter.
You will find that the companionship of the Holy Royal Arch will enrich your Masonic experience.