"Non nobis Domine, Non nobis sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam"
Egyptian Grand Priory (Masonic Order part of Memphis Misraim Rite)
L'Ordre de Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte
Knight Beneficent of the Holy City
(29° or 75° Degree of A.P.R.M.M.)
Scottish Rectified Rite
Great Priory of Bulgaria
Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte
The Scottish Rectified Rite or Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité-Sainte (CBCS) - Knights Beneficent of the Holy City - was originally a Masonic rite, a reformed variant of the Rite of Strict Observance which, in its highest degrees, uses Masonic-type rituals to demonstrate the philosophy which underlies both Martinism and the practices of the Elus-Cohens. The CBCS was founded in the late 18th Century by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, who was a pupil of Martinez de Pasqually and a contemporary of Saint-Martin. The CBCS has managed to survive as a continually practiced rite from its founding until the present day, both as a purely masonic rite, and as a detached Rite which is also open for women.
Willermoz and the Scottish Rectified Rite
4°. Maître Ecossais/Scotch Master
5°. Ecuyer Novice/Squire Novice
7°. Chevalier-Profès/Professed Knight
8°. Chevalier-Grand Profès/Grand Professed Knight
Having reformed the French branch of the order, Willermoz in 1782 succeeded in persuading the German mother branch to adopt his reforms - though not without meeting considerable opposition from other branches of the Strict Observance, such as the Bavarian Illuminati of Adam Weishaupt.
Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, born in Lyons, France on 10th July 1730, was 20 years old when he became a Freemason. In 1752, he was appointed Worshipful Master of his Lodge. In 1753, he founded the Lodge “La Parfaite Amitié”, of which he was elected Master on the feast day of St. John, 24 June 24 1753. In 1756, this Lodge joined the Mother Lodge of Lyons - its charter from the Grand Lodge of France is dated 21 November 1756. On 4 May 1760, with the approval of the Grand Lodge of France, a Provincial Mother Lodge called “Grand Loge des Maîtres Réguliers de Lyon” was founded and Willermoz was its Provincial Grand Master from 1762 to 1763 afterwards becoming the Archivist and Keeper of the Seals. In 1763, he founded the “Souverain Chapitre des Chevaliers de L”Aigle Noir - Rose-Croix”.
In May of 1767, Willermoz went to Paris, where he met Bacon de la Chevalerie, Deputy Grand Master of the Elus Cohen. He was initiated by Martinez de Pasqually himself in Verailles, France. In 1772, Willermoz learned of the existence of a German Masonic Order called the “Strict Templar Observance” and on 14 December 1772, Willermoz applied by letter for affiliation. He received an answer dated 18 March 1773 from Count Weiler. The Duke of Brunswick replaced Baron von Hund as the head of the Strict Observance. From the 11th through the 14th of August 1772, Count Weiler was in Lyons where he had come to personally establish a Strict Observance Lodge called “Loge Ecossaise Rectifiée ‘La Bienfaisance’”. In December 1777, three years after the death of Martinez de Pasqually, Rudolphe Saltzmann, “Master of the Novices of the Directoire of Strasbourg” arrived in Lyons, where he was received as an Elu-Cohen. We know that at the time, the Order of Elus-Cohen was suffering from internal dissentions and from a lack of leadership. Like many other sincere members, Willermoz saw that the Order was doomed and was anxious to preserve all that could be saved. With the help of Saltzmann, and with the approval of Bacon de la Chevalerie, Willermoz conceived a plan to implement the Secret Doctrine of the Elus-Cohen in the Rite of the Strict Observance. This he planned to do by adding to the degrees of the Strict Observance, a higher degree, called “La Profession”, called such because its members would be “professed”, i.e. under chivalric vows. It contained two secret degrees in which the doctrine of the Elus-Cohen would be transmitted, thus alleviating the disparition of the Réau-Croix but not implanting the theurgic operations of the Elus-Cohen into the Strict Observance.
A general meeting called the Convent of Gaul was held in Lyons from 25 November to 10 December 1778 at the instigation of Willermoz. It was decided to reform the Auvergne Province of the Strict Observance, the French Templars taking the name of “Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte” or “Knights Beneficent of the Holy City”, commonly referred to as “C.B.C.S.”. It was absorbed into the “Rectified Scottish Rite” as follows:
After this reformation, Willermoz decided that it would be right to expand this revision into the bosom of the Mother branch of the German Strict Observance. It was with this initiative in mind, that he went to the Convent of Wilhemsbad in 1782. He found supporters of his plan in the Princes Ferdinand of Brunswick and Charles of Hesse, but found stiff opposition on the part of the Illuminati of Bavaria (founded by Adam Weishaupt) and met hostility in the character of Francois de Chefdebien de Saint-Amand, representative of the Order of the Pilalethes, as well as resistance from Savalette de Lange. After heated arguments, Willermoz and his supporters won the day, and succeeded in having the title of C.B.C.S. adopted by all members of the Inner Order. A committee was formed under Willermoz to prepare the high degree rituals and those of the secret degrees of the Profession. This work was well advanced when the French Revolution interrupted Willermoz’ task. The “Rectified” temples of the C.B.C.S. and the temples of the Elus-Cohen which were still active had to suspend their works, the brethren being dispersed by the events of the period. After the Revolution, in 1806, the C.B.C.S. became active again in France and they soon joined the Grand Orient with which the Strict Observance had friendly relations. The Elus-cohen had not 'officially' resumed their Work. Their last Grand Master, Sebastian de las Casaa, had the archives of the Order handed over to the Philalethes. In 1806 moreover, Bacon de la Chevalerie, “Deputy Grand Master of the Northern Hemisphere”, sat in this capacity in the Grand College of Rites of the Grand Orient of France. He tried to obtain the authorization to re-organize the Order of Elus-Cohen within the Grand Orient, but was refused. The Rite of Knights Beneficent passed into Switzerland when the Directoire of Burgandy transmitted its powers to the Directoire of Helvetia. It is from this Swiss Jurisdiction, now headed by the Grand Priory of Helvetia, that the C.B.C.S. would be re-activated in France after World War II. On 5 May 1824, Jean-Baptist Willermoz died in Lyons.
For the famous occultist A.E. Waite, the Rectified Scottish Rite was the one Rite he craved the most. He "had come to see the Régime Ecossais et Rectifié as maintaining, more than any other rite, the essence in ritual form of that secret tradition that 'tells us not alone that the Soul "cometh from afar" and that the Soul returns whence it came, but it delineates the Path of Ascent'." It was, for him, truly the secret tradition in practice.
There are, at present, officially recognized bodies working the R.E.R. in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and Spain, and now the U.S.A. There is much interest in the Rite being practiced elsewhere which has been duly noted.
The Rite Ecossais Rectifie (Scottish Rectified Rite) is the oldest continuously extant chivalric Masonic Order in the world. In the United States it is known by the name of its pinnacle degree. It was originally an offshoot of Baron von Hund's Rite of Strict Observance. RER works the following system of degrees:
L'Ordre de Chevalier Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte
Rite Ecossais Rectifie
Scottish Rectified Rite
The governing bodies of the RER are called Great Priories. There is only one governing body in the United States, the Great Priory of America, which was founded in 1934 at Raleigh, N.C., by Dr. William Moseley Brown and J. Raymond Shute II. Under agreement with the Great Priory of Switzerland, membership is limited to 81, divided into three Prefectures limited to 27 members each, and is further limited to no more than two members from each state, with the understanding that some states will never be able to provide even a single candidate for the rite. In England, the Order is governed by the Knights Templar. It is important to observe with caution that there are several other groups of CBCS and other Martinist Orders with different histories and lineages: Some of them are outside of Masonry entirely, and some of them admit women.
The Masonic RER, much like the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, is empowered to work the Craft Degrees (EA, FC, and MM), but in the United States and Europe they choose not to do so, ceding this privilege to the authority of the Grand Lodge system which works the York Rite version of the first three degrees. In several other countries, RER works these degrees directly, and they differ from the York Rite version in that they derive from a source that predates the de-Christianization of the Craft which took place throughout most English speaking systems of Freemasonry to accomodate a truly Universal Fraternity.
Knights Templars Historical Outline
In the 11th century, a horde of Saracens invaded Asia Minor, including Palestine, precluding the Christians from prostrating themselves before Jesus' Sepulchre. Following that, Pope Urban II convened the Council and proclaimed the Holy War. Altogether, eight crusades were fought from 1096 to 1270.
The first crusade ended in 1099 with the conquest of Jerusalem. Nine years later, in 1108, nine knights established themselves in the old Temple of Salomon. They formed the first unit of a sacerdotal - knightly order and became the Knights Templars. They soon built up friendly relations with a group of Imami Arabs (Twelver Shiites) and learnt the Secrets and Mysteries.
1118 – The Knights Templars founded the Order of the Temple.
1125 – Having learnt the Secrets and the Mysteries, the Knights Templars elected Twelve Knights. Their task was to guard the Flame of Knowledge in the mythical Castle of Montsalvat, France.
1312 – With the permission of the King of France, Philip the Fair, Pope Clemente V decreed the dissolution of the Order.
1604 – Foundation of the Brotherhood of the Rosicrucians.
1776 - Foundation of the Order of the Enlightened - Alessandro di Cagliostro.
1827 - Foundation of the Hermetic Brotherhood of the Light - Eliphas Levi Zahed.
1905 - Foundation of the Ordo Templi Orientis - Aleister Crowley.
1948 - Foundation of the Ordo Rosae Misticae - Frank Giano Ripel.
2001 - Foundation of the Order of the Enlightened Knights (Ordre des Chevaliers Illuminés; Ordine dei Cavalieri Illuminati).
© 2009 Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis Misraim, Sovereign Sanctuary for Bulgaria