The Chivalric Orders are a set of three Orders culminating in the grade of Knight Templar, and controlled by that body. This body is markedly different from its foreign counterparts, in that it exhibits a paramilitary structure and outlook on Masonry, being the only branch of Masonry in the world that is a uniformed body. Its requirement that its members be professed Christians has led to calls of condemnation from other Masonic bodies and organizations both inside and outside the United States, claiming that the body is more of a Christian organization rather than a Masonic body. These have had little effect on the body, however, as many of the organizations criticizing the body have similar degrees among themselves. The American body is also arranged different from its nearest relatives in England. The American body includes the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross, which is not conferred in any other organization, though it has very close cousins in the Irish and American Order of Knight Masons and in the English Allied Masonic Degrees grade of the Red Cross of Babylon. Also, in the United States, the Order of Malta is conferred on members before being eligible to receive the Order of the Temple, whereas in England, the Order of Malta is an honorary grade bestowed on Knights Templar. In the United States, all business is transacted in the Order of the Temple, the other bodies only being opened for the conferral of the Orders. In England, the Order of Malta meets and operates as a separate body in addition to the Order of the Temple.
The “Chair Degrees” of York Rite masonry, so called as the candidate must be the installed or a past presiding officer of the respective York Rite body. They may also differ somewhat in name or character from one jurisdiction to another.
- Order of High Priesthood –
A chair degree conferred upon installed or past High Priests.
Sometimes referred to as the Anointed Order of High Priesthood.
In antiquity, this degree was known as the Order of Melchizadek.Thrice Illustrious Master –
A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Illustrious Masters.
It is also known as the Order of the Silver Trowel from the jewel of the degree.
Knight Crusader of the Cross –
A chair degree conferred upon installed or past Eminent Commanders.
Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor –
All present and Past Commanders of Constituent and Subordinate Commanderies of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America in a jurisdiction where there is not any Chapter of the Order may petition for membership in the Order of Knights Preceptor.
The Grand Chapter of the Order of Knights Preceptor meets annually at the time and place of the Annual Meeting of the Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees of the United States of America.