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THE DEACONS OF THE LODGE 

The Ancients Lodges, many deriving from Irish Freemasonry, had Deacons. The Moderns Lodges had Stewards. They did the same jobs. And so one can distinguish which camp a Lodge belonged to by whether it had Deacons or Stewards. But nothing in English Freemasonry is without exception: there were Lodges with both. If they were Ancient the Deacons were the more senior, if Modern, the Stewards were more senior. It is interesting to observe that the first known reference to Masonic Deacons appears in the Minutes dated February 2, 1727 of a Lodge in Ireland - 80 years before the Office was eventually adopted by the Premier Grand Lodge of England in 1809. Then in preparation for Union in 1813, the Lodge of Promulgation recommended adoption of the office of Deacon, calling them "...not only Ancient but useful and necessary Officers..." Interestingly this same body referred to Stewards "not as Officers but as appendages" And so the Deacons became the officers we now know.

However, in some places and at some times Deacons filled the role of Inner Guard. The office of IG has his place in English, Irish and Scottish lodges, but is unknown in most American lodges, in which the Junior Deacon, acting under the commands of the Junior Warden, admits Brethren, and has a special responsibility for Candidates and visitors. We all know Deacons conduct the candidate during degree work. The word deacon is a derivation from a Greek word which in translation means attendant or servant, and among the Greeks the term was applied to those who served the tables, - i.e., to those whom we now call Stewards. 

Bro. Albert Mackey says "The proper badge or ensign of office of a Deacon, which he should always carry when in the discharge of the duties of his office, is a blue rod surmounted by a pine-cone, in imitation of the caduceus, or rod of Mercury, who was the messenger of the gods as is the Deacon of the superior officers of the lodge." 

In Bro. Thomas Webb's 'Monitor' of 1797 and Orestons's 'Illustrations' of 1804 in the installation of the Deacons, it is said "these columns, as badges of your office, I entrust to your care" A short time afterwards the columns were transferred to the Wardens and their appropriate badges and the Deacons were given rods. In the book 'Ahiman Rezon' of 1807 they were called staves. In the 'Masons Manual' of 1822, wands. All subsequent references call them rods. 

In the Ancient Mysteries, the Herald, who conducted the candidates through the ceremonies of Initiation, always carried a wand surmounted by the figure of the caduceus of Mercury, and to it was attributed the power to ward off the spirits of evil which might impede the progress of those in search of the spirit of light and good. 

In the early Speculative period the Deacon's wand was surmounted by the caduceus, but towards the latter part of the 18th century Christian influences were instrumental in substituting the dove, as more appropriate to Biblical concepts of the messenger than the pagan symbol of Mercury. Even in the present day some religious denominations carry a crucifix in processions which is presumed to have the same effect. Even outside the Craft wands are not unusual as British marks of office. Church wardens and sheriffs carry them, as do certain officials in the houses of parliament. They add to the dignity of our ceremonies.

It was the custom in the medieval building age for a selected Craftsman to be entrusted with the task of carrying the messages and instructions of the Master Mason, or Architect of the building, to the various departments of the work and to see that they were correctly and punctually executed. In the ceremonies within the Lodge he carried out similar duties as assigned to him by the Master Mason, and in the period of Transition from Operative to Speculative Freemasonry his duties included the introduction and conducting of candidates who were being "made Masons," and the performance of various acts similar to the work of Deacons today. 

In every Symbolic Lodge, there are two officers who are called the Senior and Junior Deacons. The office off Deacons in Freemasonry appears to have been derived from the usage's of the primitive church. The Deacons accompany the candidate during the ceremonies of the Three Degrees in the Lodge. They carry a wand as a badge of their office.

The Junior Deacon carries a rod with him, which is topped with this jewel of office. The rod symbolizes the wand carried by the Roman god Mercury, who was also a messenger. The Junior Deacon also typically wears the jewel of office around his neck. The jewel of office for the Junior Deacon is a square and compass with a moon in the center. The moon symbolizes that the Junior Deacon is in the west, not the east (closer to the Master). The square and compass are traditional symbols of Freemasonry. 

The Senior Deacon also carries a rod with him, this is symbolic of the wand carried by the Roman god Mercury. Mercury was the gods' messenger in Roman myth, so this symbol is very apt for the Deacon. The Deacons' rods are topped by the jewel of the office and the Deacons also carry the jewels of office around their necks. The jewel of office for the Senior Deacon is the square and compass, with the symbol of the sun in the center. The sun represents that the Senior Deacon belongs in the east, close to the Master. In other countries, the jewel of office for the Senior Deacon are doves (with or or without the olive branch)

 

 

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