From the Commander (September, 2011)

posted May 23, 2015, 1:11 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 23, 2015, 1:39 PM ]

Joseph  DaSilva
Brethren all, 


We find the first historical record of Freemasonry was a Secret Monitor ceremony performed in 1868 at Zedekiah’s Cave, also know as King Solomon’s Quarries, in Jerusalem. It was performed by an American, Robert Morris, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky,  who was on an archaeological Masonic Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The meeting was attended by some officers from a Royal Navy ship anchored in Jaffa, some local engineers and a few other Masons. Morris called the meeting a “Moot Lodge” - that is, an occasional lodge called together for a specific purpose and named it Reclamation Lodge.
Among the Masons who joined Morris in this underground ceremony was the Vice-Consul of the U.S. in Jerusalem, R. Beardsley, and Captain Charles Warren, who was conducting a survey of the Holy Land for the Palestine Exploration Society of England. Captain Warren would eventually become the first Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076, the premier lodge of research in the world.
Morris found five other Masons in Jaffa, four of them Americans belonging to a Christian sect called the Church of the Messiah. They had left America for the Holy Land to found an agricultural settlement and prepare for the Second Coming. The fifth Mason was the Turkish Governor of Jaffa, Noureddin Effendi, a 29th degree Scottish Rite Freemason and a member of Amities Clemente Lodge in Paris. Noureddin wanted to establish a lodge in Jaffa, while Morris desired to return Freemasonry to its legendary source, establishing a lodge in Jerusalem
Morris, upon his return to America, was unable to obtain a charter from an American Grand Lodge, but he finally persuaded his friend, who was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ontario, Canada, to issue a warrant in 1873 from his Grand Lodge to open the first Regular Masonic lodge in the Holy Land. It was called The Royal Solomon Mother Lodge No. 283 of Jerusalem and surroundings. The lodge met in Jaffa at the Howard Hotel, owned by Alexander Howard, whose real name was Iskander Awad, a Maronite Christian Arab, who was an 18th Degree Scottish Rite Freemason. However, this lodge had a short life and ceased to exist in 1907, when the Grand Lodge of Ontario closed it down. Ironically, Morris never served as the Master of this Lodge. 
The next Masonic lodge to be organized in the Holy Land was established in Jaffa around 1891 by a group of local Arab and Jewish Masons, who petitioned the Misraim Rite, a French, unaccepted Rite, based in Paris but active at that time in Egypt. They founded Lodge Le Port du Temple de Roi Salomon (The Lodge of the Port of King Solomon’s Temple), working in French. Not long after its constitution, the lodge received a large contingent of French Brethren, engineers who had come to build the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway, the first in Palestine.  (to be continued next month)

Joseph Da Silva
Master of Kadosh