The reasons for the strength and appeal of these Chivalric Masonic Orders are not only the impressive nature of the admission ceremonies, but also the historical stories contained within the ritual. They tell of the life of the Emperor Constantine and the crucial part he played in the development of Christianity, as it developed into the world religion that it is today. Following the death of his father Constantius, at York in 306 AD, Constantine was proclaimed Caesar by his Legions. His brother in law, Maxentius, was Caesar of the Eastern Roman Empire; and on the 28th October 312 AD they meet in battle, at the Milvian Bridge, on the banks of the River Tiber, just outside Rome. Constantine believed that he saw in the heavens symbols depicting Christ; and he ordered his soldiers to depict these on their shields. These symbols also became his battle standard. At the Milvian Bridge he gained a great victory.
Traditionally, several of his soldiers then confessed their Christian faith, impressing the Emperor. Following the successful battle, the tradition relates that Constantine formed a Conclave of Knights of the Order, whose members became his bodyguard. An important outcome of his supremacy was that he was then able to weld the Western and Eastern Empires into one. Constantine was the first Roman Emperor who openly encouraged Christianity, and he and his mother Helena became professed Christians. Late in her life Helena made a journey to Jerusalem and found part of the cross on which Christ had been crucified.
Candidates in the Order witness how Christianity can be embraced, by seeing how the legend of Constantine’s conversion is included in Masonic ritual that is linked with the history of the Roman Empire.
Every candidate for admission must be a Royal Arch Mason and believe in the Trinitarian Christian faith. He eventually receives the accolade of a Perfect Knight Mason.
The Order is in two parts. The first ceremony consists of the candidate’s admission, obligation and installation as a Knight Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine, during which the historical basis of the Order is also outlined. In the subsequent degrees, those of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and of St John the Evangelist, the days between the crucifixion and the resurrection are considered, at the same time explaining the Craft and Royal Arch ceremonies in a purely Christian sense. These, together with the two enthronement ceremonies leading to the principal chairs in the Order, are extremely impressive.
Regalia for this Order is simple, consisting of a sash and two breast jewels.