An Honorary and Invitational Body Dedicated to Masonic Research


Saint Lawrence the Martyr

The actual date when this ritual was introduced is not known, but is believed to have been worked in England over two centuries ago. It has been generally accepted that the degree is remnants of an old operative ceremony originating from Lancashire and designed to distinguish true craftsmen from speculative masons. While the degree has little Masonic connection to the Hiramic legend, its interesting legend relates to the martyrdom of St. Lawrence who was afterwards canonized for his fidelity and Christian attributes. However, little of an authentic nature can be said regarding this. Records of the Grade anywhere are extremely rare, and no real early Minute has appeared to shed light on its origins. If this Grade was actually worked in Lancashire, which was near to Grand Lodge activity, it does seem that records would be available and something a bit more definite obtainable. The main lesson of the degree is fortitude.

The ceremony relates neither to the First or Second Temple, nor to Masonic Chivalry. It is interesting in its simplicity and has a little-heard-of legend, which is pleasing to examine and of merit. The very peculiarity of the Grade marks it different and is perhaps the ground upon which the operative origin is claimed.

The actual figure of St. Lawrence is a shadowy figure of the early Roman church. It has been said of the traditional stories about St. Lawrence that they portray, not the man, but the ‘typical figure of a martyr’. It is known that he was one of the seven deacons of Rome, and that he was martyred there four days after Pope Sixtus II (also canonized) in 258 AD. He was allegedly buried in the cemetery on the road to Tivoli, where the church of St. Lawrence-outside-the-Walls now stands. Traditional legend claims his martyrdom was being put to death by being roasted on a grid. It is more likely that in fact he was beheaded, as St. Sixtus was. Scholars are not wholly in agreement about how much credence can be given to such particulars about St. Lawrence as are given by St. Ambrose, the poet Prudentius, and others. His veneration dates from the fourth century, and he was considered as one of the most famous martyrs of the city of Rome. With St. Sixtus he is named in the canon of the Roman Mass. His feast day is 10 August. His emblem is a gridiron.

This Grade is the administrative Degree that English and European Councils work in when transacting and conducting business. It is the only Grade of these councils that also has a chair Degree, that of Installed Worshipful Master. New members receive this Grade upon reception into an Allied Masonic Degree council, generally along with the Degrees of Knight of Constantinople and Grand Tiler of Solomon. Miniature jewels for the various Degrees are worn on the left breast, a miniature jewel being added for each additional Degree. While a member may not receive all the Grades of the Allied Masonic Degrees, he must be in possession of the Grade of St. Lawrence the Martyr in order to be seated in the Council meetings.

In the American Councils, the Degree is not as often exemplified as the other AMD Degrees. With the mutual recognition of the various Grand Councils in the United States and Europe, this Degree becomes much more important as does the Degree of Installed Worshipful Master.

The Jewel of the Grade is a silver gridiron, suspended from a ribbon, orange in the center and royal blue on either side. The Jewel of a Past Master is a silver gridiron enclosed in a silver circle.

The Apron of the Grade is white, with the orange and blue border, and containing a gridiron in the center.

The Collar of the Grade is approximately four inches in width, orange in the center and blue on either side.