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.