The Order of the Knights of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or the Knights of the Temple was established in 1119. The Templars were the first priestly order of armed knights. The order was created to provide safe transit for Christian Pilgrims visiting the Holy Land from Europe.
Knights swore allegiance to the Pope and took vows of poverty, loyalty and chastity. The order grew in numbers and popularity as they fought to keep the Holy Land open. Their business acumen made the most of the gifts granted them by their grateful patrons in Europe.
One of the true supporters of the Templars was Bernard de Clairvaux (later canonized as Saint Bernard) who described them in 1135 as, “A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armour of faith, just as his body is protected by the armour of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither demons nor men.”
Despite the sacrifice and devotion of the Templars, in 1307 the order was declared heretical by Pope Clement V acting on the insistence of Phillip the Fair of France. On Friday, October 13, 1307, members of the order in France were arrested. Imprisoned, many were executed, more tortured, and all impoverished. In most of Europe, the Estates of the Order were confiscated and divided between the sovereign, the Knights Hospitalers (Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights of Malta) and the Pope.
When the Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay and the Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charney were burned alive, on March 18, 1314, the Templars no longer had a common head, nor could anyone maintain their organization under their old name, which had become so famous.
Their possessions stolen, their leaders incarcerated for life or put to death, the brethren were persecuted in every way. The survivors were compelled to leave their homes to save their lives. They laid aside the garb of the Temple and mingled in the world. Many former Templars joined other orders.
Dispersal to Scotland
In Portugal, they were announced as innocent and the name of the order was changed to the Order of Christ. In England, King Edward proscribed them and forbade them to remain in the realm, unless they entered the Commandries of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. In Scotland, they found protection and joined the army with which King Robert Bruce met the invasion of his country led by Edward II of England.
The Battle of Bannockburn was being fought on the 24th day of June, 1314 when a group of exiled Templars rode into the fray and turned the tide of battle. This intervention may well have tipped the scales in favor of Scottish independence.
In gratitude for the assistance of that group of former Templars, Robert the Bruce created the Order of Saint Andrew du Chardon (of the Thistle) of Scotland.
King Robert reserved the title of Grand Master for himself and his successors forever. He granted a charter of land to the members of his new Order. Prince Charles Edward Stuart was the last Grand Master of the Scottish Order and exercised his powers by establishing a Chapter of Rose Croix at Arres, France.
Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite
When the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite was organized in the early 1730s, explanatory degrees were added to those of the Blue Lodge. Degrees of the Rites of Heredom and Perfection along with other degrees and rites from Scotland, France, and Germany were added. The 29th Degree became the “Scottish Knight of St. Andrew.” Exemplifying the qualities of the Knights Templars and those of the Order of St. Andrew du Chardon, this degree remains with us today.
In early 1993 the late, Ill. Weldon Good, 33rd of the Tulsa Valley in Oklahoma saw a need for assistance during reunions. He also noticed that Masons were joining the Scottish Rite but not returning to help and participate in subsequent reunions. To rectify this he developed the organization now known as the KNIGHTS OF ST. ANDREW as a service group for the valley.
The by-laws stated that the Knights of St. Andrew are a “Black Cap” group. A member who receives the honor of KCCH – Knights Commander of the Court of Honor – can not hold an office or vote but they can continue to work and assist. The main duties of the Knights of St. Andrew were and are, to assist, as needed, during a reunion and to be available to the Valley’s General Secretary for any assigned duties.
Finding that the Knights of St. Andrew worked so well in the Tulsa Valley, Brother Good offered, with the approval of the SGIG, to Charter KSA Chapters in the Valleys of Guthrie and McAlester. That was done in October 1993 and early 1994 respectively.
On that day in October 1993, there were over sixty Guthrie Scottish Rite members ready to join the Knights. When they were told that they would have to work and that only Black Caps could join, half of them left the room and the Tulsa Chapter initiated 32 Charter members of the Guthrie Knights of St. Andrew.
In Guthrie, the Knights of St. Andrew Chapter has flourished and celebrated their twentieth anniversary in 2013. Over the years they have had many assignments during reunions, some of which have become permanent; hanging Degree Banners in the atrium; arranging registration tables; and setting up for the two banquets with tables and chairs -plus clearing the tables and trash at the conclusion.
The Guthrie Knights assist with the Grand Opening of each reunion. Attired in kilts and Glenn Gharries, accompanied by pipers, they carry and post the banners of each Lodge, the Scottish Rite Banner and the ceremonial swords. Following this, they escort the Masters of each Lodge, the Valley’s General Secretary, Grand Master of Oklahoma Masons, the SGIG of Oklahoma and any visiting SGIGs. At the conclusion of the 32nd Degree, Knights assist in the closing by retiring the swords and leading the Degree Team from the auditorium.
They set-up the reception awards for the 50 year membership cap presentation and escort the honorees and their family members to the ballroom as they arrive.
The night before the start of the Reunion, the Guthrie Knights of St. Andrew set-up the registration area, hang banners and flags in the Atrium, and arrange signs and displays. Knights also assist in the greeting of candidates, act as runners for the office staff, and drive golf carts to assist attendees from the parking area to the building.
At different intervals during the breaks between the degrees, Guthrie Knights of St. Andrew have conducted tours of the building and the “working areas” of the Center for the candidates.
Membership in other service organizations is common. Knights of St. Andrew members also work on a regular basis in the Costume Room, Make Up, Supernumerary, Backstage, Props and Electrical, Credentials/Registration, Service Knights, Kitchen and the Inn. The largest number of Knights work with the Chain Gang- the organization that operates the Valley Snack Bar and Gift Shop.
During the Fall Reunions in 2004 & 2005 the Guthrie Knights of St. Andrew meet their greatest challenge. With all the above functions, they also sponsored the Guthrie Scottish Rite Medieval Festival. KSA Members coordinated 35 Artist / Crafts vendors and 9 Food Booths. The Society for Creative Anachronism provided human combat exhibitions and The Arthurian Order of Avalon demonstrated jousting with knights on horseback. The Knights of St Andrew, prior to the festival, marked out the grounds, ran flag lines, erected tents, registered vendors and sold Festival T-Shirts, assisted with parking, addressed any Festival related problems, picked up trash and then cleaned up the grounds at closing.
During each reunion, on Friday evening, The Guthrie Knights initiate new members. A candlelight procession consisting of Bagpipers, the initiation team in kilts, candidates and members marches through the halls of the Scottish Rite Center. The only light comes from the candles held by the initiates. They all walk the length of the building, across the Atrium and into the Egyptian Room- the smaller auditorium where the initiation ritual is performed. The wives and other family members are invited to view the ceremonies.
There is no “official” headquarters or central authority of the Knights of St. Andrew… no uniform… no required procedures or prescribed ritual. The attire and regalia varies from one Chapter to another. Most Chapters have adopted the insignia developed by the Guthrie Chapter for their recognition lapel pin and badge.
As one Chapter becomes established, the idea spreads and they charter additional Chapters. Each Chapter is as unique as the needs of their individual Valley. This was clearly seen as Knights from across the country converged on Guthrie in April, 2012 for the 1st National Gathering of the Knights of St. Andrew. Each Knight brought a unique perspective to share with the others.
From the small beginnings of three Chapters in Oklahoma twenty years ago where have the Knights of St. Andrew grown? …Across both, the Southern Jurisdiction & Northern Jurisdiction, and from coast to coast.
Some Chapters have elected to use the names, Order of the Thistle, or Scots Guards, but all Chapters have the same basic structure and purpose – an organization of and for Black Cap Scottish Rite Masons designed to assist with and give service to their Valley.
Currently, in the Southern Masonic Jurisdiction there are 145 Valleys with Knights of St. Andrew Chapters. In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, there are 23 Chapters. (7 / 14 / 2017 )