FAQ

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Common questions about Freemasonry as published by the Grand Lodge of PA:

Pennsylvania Masonic History

  1. Who was the first Mason reporting informal Masonic Meetings in America?
    In 1715 John Moore, Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, wrote in a letter that he had “spent a few evenings of Masonic festivity with my Masonic Brethren.”
  2. What was the first printed reference to Masonic Lodges in Pennsylvania?
    In the issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette, dated December 8, 1730, its editor, Benjamin Franklin (not then a Mason) refers to “several Lodges of Freemasons” having been “Erected in this Province.”
  3. What is the oldest Masonic Lodge Record in America?
    The account book, “Liber B,” 1738 of St. John’s Lodge of Philadelphia, owned by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  4. Who succeeded Daniel Coxe as Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania?
    William Allen in 1731.
  5. Who were some of William Allen’s successors?
    Humphrey Murray, Benjamin Franklin, James Hamilton, Thomas Hopkinson, William Plumstead, Joseph Shippen, Philip Syng.
  6. Where was the first Masonic Hall in America?
    “Freemasons’ Lodge” built in 1755 in Philadelphia on the south side of Norris (or Lodge) Alley, which extends west from Second Street and is parallel to and north of Walnut Street.
  7. Where were other early Masonic meeting places in Philadelphia?
    Tun Tavern on the east side of what was known as King Street, between Chestnut and Walnut Streets (1730); Indian King Tavern (1735); Royal Standard Tavern, High Street near Second Street (1749).
  8. What was the first Masonic Book printed in America?
    The “Constitutions of the Free-Masons” (a reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723) printed by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734 “for the Use of the Brethren in North America.”
  9. What Pennsylvania Past Master and Past District Deputy Grand Master became President of the United States?
    James Buchanan of Lodge No. 43, Lancaster.
  10. What Grand Master of Pennsylvania became Vice President of the United States under President Polk?
    George M. Dallas

Ritual & Symbolism 

  1. When was King Solomon’s Temple erected?
    It was started about 972 B.C.
  2. Who was Hiram of Tyre?
    He was King of Tyre, a friend and ally of King David. At Solomon’s request he furnished assistance in the construction of the Temple.
  3. Who was Hiram Abiff?
    He was a talented workman, skilled in metals, wood, stone and linen. He was sent by King Hiram to help in the erection and adornment of King Solomon’s Temple.
  4. What Masonic penalties are actually enforced?
    Censure, suspension and expulsion. Other penalties mentioned in the Ritual are only symbolic.
  5. What is lawful Masonic information when vouching for a Brother?
    Lawful information that a person is a Brother Mason may be secured (1) by sitting in a Symbolic Lodge with him, (2) by a known Mason vouching for him as such, and (3) by his passing the examination of a committee appointed by the Worshipful Master.
  6. What is a Masonic Monitor?
    A Manual published by most Grand Lodges containing portions of the Ritualistic Work, usually in code.
  7. What is meant by the Golden Fleece, Roman Eagle, and the Star & Garter?
    The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded by Duke Phillip of Burgundy in 1429. The Roman Eagle was the symbol of the power and might of Rome during its heyday 2,000 or more years ago. The Order of the Star was founded by King John II of France in the 1300s. The Order of the Garter was created by King Edward III of England about the same time. The use of the apron as a badge is actually older than any of these.
  8. What is an oblong square?
    A rectangle with its length greater than its breadth, or, as applied to the shape of a Lodge Room, the east-west dimension being greater. In ancient times, the world was supposed to be shaped like an oblong square, surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Symbolically, this is the form of the Lodge Room.
  9. What is the Masonic interpretation of “profane?”
    A “profane” is a person who is not a Mason.
  10. Where was Joppa?
    A seaport at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, the nearest access to Jerusalem.
  11. What does “hele” mean?
    “Hele,” pronounced “hail,” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon and means to cover or conceal.
  12. What are High Twelve and Low Twelve?
    Noon and Midnight.
  13. Why is Acacia a Masonic symbol?
    Acacia, an evergreen, is hardy and frequently sprouts from timbers of that species. Hence, the Jews planted Acacia on graves as a symbol of life and of the immortality of the soul.
  14. What does “So mote it be” mean?
    The word “mote” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “motan,” meaning “to be allowed.” Hence, the phrase “So mote it be.” These are the last words in the Regius Poem.
  15. What is the symbolism of Freemasonry?
    The use of the tools and terms of the builder’s trade to express invisible or spiritual ideas and thereby illustrate moral concepts and basic truths in the life of mankind.
  16. Is the Hiramic Legend true?
    From a purely factual sense, it is not true although it does have an historical background as written in the Bible in I Kings and II Chronicles.
  17. Why do Masonic Rituals vary in different Jurisdictions in the United States?
    The Rituals vary in words and details. This results from the fact that Freemasonry in the United States has been derived from a number of sources (England, both Antient and Modern, Ireland, Scotland). Likewise, from time to time many Grand Lodges have modified their Ritualistic Work.