Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests
Knight of the Holy Grave

1988


Compiler's Note: Those members of our Order who also belong to the Order of the Red Cross of Constantine will quickly determine the similarities between this ritual and that of parts of the associated ceremonies of that Order. There can be little doubt that all have a common ancestry and that in their present forms they represent differing branches on a common trunk. Knights of the Holy Grave assemble in a Council, said to represent a Cathedral.
The altar is covered in black and on it should be placed a three branched candle stick with candles and the emblems of mortality. The Officers are, the Knight Prelate who presides, the Knight Verger who acts as the conductor, a Knight Harbinger who acts as the Asst. Conductor, a Knight Beadle who acts as Inner Guard and a Knight Warder or Outer Guard. Members are known as Knight Priests of the Holy Grave.
The regalia consists of an apron of white with a black triangular fall or flap. On the fall is a white passion cross and on the body are represented emblems of mortality in outline. The Knight Prelate carries a pastoral staff.
A platter of bread and a large goblet of wine should be provided for use during the ceremony and seven swords must be available for the Novices. A Crescent Banner and suitable pole should be standing in the SW of the meeting place and if possible, seven green cloaks and eastern swords.

 

Opening

KP:
Knight Priests of the Holy Grave, I am about to open this Council of our Order and therefore demand that you attend in ample form. The Knight Priests form a large circle around a central altar which is completed when the KP joins it in the West carrying his staff in his left hand and a Bible in his right. He then says: Let us pray.
O King of Kings and Lord of Lords
let thy Blessing fall upon this Sanctuary,
Let Thy light brighten our Path
and let thy Wisdom guide us.
The members may then sing:

Hush, hush the Heavenly Choir,
They cleave the air in bright attire
See, see the lute that each angel brings,
And so divinely thus they sing.
To Thy Power divine,
All glory be given,
By mankind upon this earth
and a host of angels in Heaven.
ALL:
Amen and Amen. So mote it ever be, world without end. Amen
KP steps up to the altar, lays down the Bible thereon and lights the three candles and then raises his staff and intones:
Kyrie Eleison, Khristo Eleison, Kyrie Eleison Amen Gloria Tibi Domino. I do now declare this Council of Knight Priests of the Holy Grave opened in ample form, requiring all present to observe this occasion and govern themselves according to the Chivalric and Priestly requirements of this Order. Officers and Knight Priests, take up your respective stations. Gives * * * * * * with his staff and all take up their stations. The KP in the NE, the Verger and Harbinger in the West and the Beadle at the NW comer, The Knights Priests array themselves in the South and the North and all are seated.
 

Reception

According to time immemorial custom, seven Novices, no more no less, must always be admitted without exception, therefore it is permitted that Knight Priests may make up the number of Novices to seven should this be required. The seven Novices are led to the door by the Knight Warden, who gives * * * * * on the portal.
KV:
Knight Prelate, there is an alarm at the portal.
KP:
Attend to the alarm and report.
KV proceeds to the door, opens it and looks out to ascertain the cause of the alarm and thereafter reports:
Knight Prelate, there stand without the portal seven novices who solicit your permission to enter this Council and seek admission as Knight Priests of this Order.
KP:
Knight Verger, on what is their desire founded?
KV:
On true Christian principles, to serve this cathedral and all its members, by performing the seven corporeal works of mercy and to protect and guard the Holy Grave of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the destructive actions of our enemies.
KP:
Admit them. that we may hear them and know them.
The seven are admitted and stand in the West. The KV stands at the S end of the line and the KH at the N, when they are addressed by the Knight Prelate, thus:
Are you followers of the Captain of our Salvation and the Light of our lives?
KV, for the Novices:
We are, Knight Prelate.
KP:
Attend then to the words of our Master, Jesus Christ: "Thou shall love the Lord thy God. with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul and with all thy might." This is the first great commandment and the second is also like unto it; "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself would be loved". Are you all willing to follow these teachings? All assent. Are you all willing to assume the Vow of the Knight Priesthood? All assent. Then gaze upon the High Altar, advance and kneel before it and conjoin yourselves with us as one body.
The Novices approach the altar and kneel to the West of it and are instructed by the KH to form themselves in the shape of a chevron and thereafter kneel. The KB then places himself at the N side of the altar and kneels, the KV does the same on the S side and finally the KP does so at the W side. The KP, KV and KP cross the arms over their breasts left over right, with the hand on the opposing shoulder and the KH instructs the Novices to do likewise. The KP then says:

 

The Vow

KP:
Using your Christian name after the word I, you will repeat after me. I, , in the Name of the High and Undivided Trinity, do promise, swear and vow, that I will keep, hold and forever conceal the high mysteries of this Noble and Invincible Order of Knight Priests of the Holy Grave of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by acts of valour, courage and charity, and its members by performing the seven corporeal works of mercy and that as far as it within me lies, I will defend the Church of the Holy Grave or Sepulchre and violence and pillage by unbelievers and guard, conduct and protect pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land, and if, I do not perform this, my vow, to the very best of my ability, them may I become inanimatus. Amen.
Interlace the fingers of your hands with the Knights on either side of you thus: The KP, KV and KB do so and then the KV and KB join with the Novices at the extremes of the line until all are joined together in one Knightly Bond around the altar. You will! now say with us - DE MORTUIS NIL NISI.
After this The Knights arise but the Novices remain kneeling with heads bowed. The KH collects seven swords and stands at the N. end of the line. Meanwhile seven Knight Priests, who have been previously appointed, representing Turcomans and wear green coats or tunics, assemble in the SW corner around a staff on which is hung the Crescent Banner of the Musselmen, who carry eastern swords. When they have gathered, the KV orders the Novices to rise. The KH then places a sword in the right hand of each one and takes up a station at the N. end of the line again.
KP:
Take these swords and travel onwards - Guard the Holy Grave - Defeat the enemies of Christ and the Church Unfurl the banner of the Cross everywhere.
The KP, KV and KB resume their places. When they have done so the KH commands the Novices to turn left and follow him around the Council and they march forward to the SW corner where they enjoin a battle with the Turcomans. After some time the Crescent Banner is taken and the Turcomans flee. They disrobe and return to the Council. The KH leads the Novices back to the Council, the first in line carries the banner. The KH leads them before the altar where the Crescent Banner is deposited, the seven Novices are then seated in the West between the KV and KH.
KP reads John XX v i to xiv after which the members may then sing:

Creator of the Radiant Light
Dividing day from sable night
Who, with the Light's bright origin
The world's creation didst begin.
KP:
Let our prayers come before Thee and let our undertakings be acceptable in Thy Light. The seven are then made to kneel at the base of the High Altar. The KP then passes along the line with a platter of bread and asks each of the seven to take a piece. He then says: Brother Knights, eat ye all of this bread in Love that you may learn to Support one another.
The KP then passes the Goblet of wine along the line and the seven each cake a sip in turn, thereafter:
Drink ye all of this cup that you may leam to Sustain one another and ratify that Vow which you have made.
Bow now your heads in prayer that ye may thank the Lord for the company and friendship of each other. The KP then raises each one in turn by interlocking the fingers of his hands with each Novice rigjt to right and left to left with the left the uppermost and to each he says: Knight Priest, I greet thee as a Knight Priest of the Order of the Holy Grave Go feed the hungry; Give drink to the thirsty; Clothe the naked with a garment; Visit and ransom the captives; Harbour the harbourless; Give the widow and orphan wherein to lay their heads; Visit and relieve the sick; Go and inter the dead The KP then passes down the line again making the sign of the cross on the forehead of each Novice and says: IN NOMINE PATRIS, FILLI ET SPIRITUS SANCTI AMEN.
Knight Priests, you have been amply admitted to this high estate by the Grip of the Order made thus, by crossing the arms, left uppermost and interlocking the fingers of your hands. The method of proving a Knight Priest is for the enquiring brother to raise the initial finger of the right hand thus, the challenged brother replies by holding up the middle finger and the enquiring brother responds by holding up the third finger, thus signifying Three Persons in One God, the Undivided Trinity. You will now retire to the West where the Knight Beadle will deliver a lecture to you.
KB:
Knight Priests, on reaching this high office you have become members of the Order of the Holy Grave and as such, you occupy a dual position being Knights charged to protect and guard the Holy Grave or Sepulchre and defend pilgrims coming to and from the Holy Land. and as Priests, charged to attend to the spiritual needs of your fellow creatures. This Order was instituted by Saint Helena, the Royal Princess and mother of the Emperor Constantine in the year 302 anno domini and its foundation was confirmed and warranted by his Holiness the Pope Marcellinus in 304 anno domini. It was instituted to commemorate the discovery made by Helena in the year 296, of the Cross upon which our Saviour died.
In that year, after levelling the hillocks in and around Jerusalem. and after obliterating the Temple of Venus, there were discovered not one but three crosses. Not knowing which of the three was the one she sought she consulted ecclesiastical advice and by order therefrom, the crosses were taken to the bedside of a woman who had long been visited by sickness and now lay at the point of expiration. The woman placed her hands on the first two crosses but neither rendered her any service but when she laid her hands on the remaining cross she was therewith restored to her former sound health. She instantly arose giving glory to God saying, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our sins lay upon Him and with His stripes we are healed, and God hath laid upon Him all our sins.
By a prearranged plan with her son, Helena, immediately that the Cross of Christ had been distinguished, had a great fire lighted on the highest hill in the vicinity. Similar fires had been prepared all along the way to Constantinople and as each watcher saw the smoke from the preceding fire some miles away, he lighted his pyre.
Tradition informs us that in a short space of a few hours, Constantine the Great knew that his mother had discovered that for which she had for so long sought and much rejoicing filled the Christian world of that period. On the spot where the crosses were discovered, Saint Helena erected the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which stands today though it has been rebuilt and altered from time to time. The original edifice was a stately structure, one hundred paces long and sixty wide. The east end took in the place where the crosses stood, while the west, by the levelling of the hills, contained the Sepulchre, which was above the floor of the church like a grotto. It was twenty feet from the floor to the top of the rock and a beautiful cupola was made over the Sepulchre. In the aisle are the tombs of Godfrei and Baldwyn, Kings of Jerusalem.
The Order of Knights set to guard the Sepulchre became known as the Knight Priests of the Holy Grave and similar Orders are perpetuated by both the Church at Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Freemasonry early created Orders of Masonic Knighthood, having the Holy Sepulchre as a central theme and this particular Order commemorates the deed of Helena. To us it is a symbolic ordination to become a Knight Priest of the Tomb of our Lord and we feel that in fact, this Ordination comes from on High.
The token of a Knight Priest is given by each interlacing the fingers of the hands and in this stance giving the word SEPULCHRUM. In some places, a challenge may be made before entry into Council is permitted, you may be asked, Who do come to guard, to which the correct response will be, He who is the Lamb of God. Hereafter the new Knight Priest or Priests may be seated.
 

Closing

KP:
Knight Priests, I am about to close this Council, you will form the Eternal Circle about the High Altar. All present do so, and interlace the fingers with the KP on either side, they bend the arms at the elbow and raise the hands and all say SEPULCHRUM. the KP then says:
KP:
Gloria, Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
ALL:
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper et in secula seculorum. Amen.
KV:
Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, Great Cause and Governor of all things. Thou created the world with Thy bountiful hand and sustained it by Thy wisdom, by Thy goodness and by Thy mercy. It cometh to pass that seed time and harvest never fail. It is Thou that givest every good and perfect gift. Blessed by Thy name for ever and ever. Amen.
ALL:
So be it ever. Amen
KP:
Knight Priests, this Council is closed, depart in peace and ever practice prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.
Gives * * * * * * with his staff.
The KP closes the HG and snuffs out the candles. He then retires. When he passes out of the room, the others likewise retire in order of seniority.


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