18° Knight of the Rose Croix de Heredom
17° Knight of the East and West
In 1797, a Chapter of Rose Croix was formed in New York City by a group of Frenchmen with J. J. J. Gourgas as Secretary. This was the first Rose Croix Chapter established in North America. In 1813 this group of Brothers was recognized as Scottish Rite Masons by Charleston Supreme Council. In the same year the Supreme Council for Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was formed from the Scottish Rite Bodies active in New York. Daniel D. Tompkins was named the First Sovereign Grand Commander and J.J.J. Gourgas was Grand Secretary.
Meanwhile Joseph Cerneau a member of Washington Lodge No. 21, with another group of Masons, formed a rival Chapter of Rose Croix in 1806, and a Grand Consistory in 1807. The regularity of this group was denied by the Mother Supreme Council of the A.A.S.R. in Charleston until 1867, when the two rival Supreme Councils, both located in New York City, merged to form what is now the Supreme Council for Northern Masonic Jurisdiction A.A.S.R. and moved their seat to Boston. In the following years, various Scottish Rite Bodies active in New York City were consolidating and uniting. Accordingly the Chapters of Rose Croix in New York City united to form our present Rose Croix Chapter on February 28th, 1880, when the "Templar " Chapter and the "Zeal and Constancy" Chapter merged. The Charter issued by the Supreme Council in 1880 shows a founding date of October 30th, 1856, which is the official founding date of our Chapter Rose Croix.
From 1888 until 1901, the meetings of the Rose Croix Chapter were held in the Scottish Rite Temple on East 29th Street, which was originally built as a Presbyterian church, but in 1888 was purchased by the New York City Scottish Rite Bodies. In 1901 their meetings returned to the Masonic Hall on 23rd Street. In 1922 the Valley of New York City A.A.S.R. purchased the Manhattan Opera house on West 34th Street, and made it into a Scottish Rite Temple. During the years of the Depression the Valley lost this building and moved back to the Masonic building on 23rd Street.
Many prominent New York Masons were members and Officers of our Rose Croix Chapter. In 1957-58 the Most Wise Master was Wendell K. Walker.
The Chapter of Rose Croix meets once a month, on the first Tuesday, either within the Four Bodies meeting of the Valley of New York, or as a host, and has Reunions once a year, at which the 17th and 18th Degrees are conferred upon candidates in full form and with the dramas.
Every year on Thursday before Easter (the Thursday before Maundy Thursday) at 8:00pm, the Chapter of Rose Croix performs a Solemn Ceremonial "Feast of the Paschal Lamb," which is open to the public. At this occasion, we recollect the moral values taught to us by the Great Teacher of Nazareth, and perpetuated in the Teachings of the Rose Croix Degrees. This is also a Ceremony of Remembrance for Departed Brothers who have gone this way before us.
The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Degrees, known as the Philosophical and Doctrinal Degrees of the Scottish Rite, are conferred in a Chapter of Rose Croix. They open a new development of Masonic teaching and are a distinct departure and advance from the symbolism and teaching of the Symbolic Lodge and of the preceding Scottish Rite Degrees. These deal with the First Temple and its supporting columns and the attempt to restore and maintain the old worship in a Second Temple reared upon the ruins of the first. Neither endured.
The Seventeenth Degree is designated Knight of the East and West and is presented as the first degree in a Chapter of Rose Croix. The degree centers around the wandering neophyte an earnest seeker for Truth and is an indispensable prelude to the Eighteenth Degree. It inspires the hope that the Day of Truth will dawn at last, that the knowledge and worship of the One Living and True God shall spread from East to West, and that one Spiritual Brotherhood shall extend across the world.
The Eighteenth Degree is designated - Knight of the Rose Croix and is presented as the second and last degree in a Chapter of Rose Croix. Man had to have a new Temple, a new Law, a new Word. The degree sets forth a law of the heart, a law of warm and intimate human virtues, a law which the simplest and humblest may practice. It symbolizes a perfect life that every man can understand and take for the guide, inspiration, and model of his own.
The Rose Croix degrees are the spiritual center and among the most important in the whole body of Freemasonry.