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The Ceremony of the Veils | Durham Freemasons

On 8 th March 2023 Norman Royal Arch Chapter hosted a presentation of ‘The Ceremony of the Veils’. The lodge members, along with 51 guests packed the Temple in Durham Masonic Hall to be intrigued and enthralled by the presentation of this ancient ceremony by The Provincial Grand Chapter of Durham and the Companions of Norman Chapter.

Following a review by Supreme Grand Chapter back in 1834, this ancient ceremony was stopped and is seldom seen in English Chapters. Therefore consequently, it is no longer regularly practiced outside the Province of Bristol. The Ceremony of the Veils used to be a preliminary to the Exaltation and an integral part of the Royal Arch ceremony but can now only be practiced annually by a Province.

Michael Shaw and David Hanson led the evening and were accompanied by The Deputy Grand Superintendent of Yorkshire North and East Ridings Patrick Gambage.

The ceremony performed on the evening is very much part of the Royal Arch system in Ireland, the United States of America and in Scotland where it is known as the Excellent Master Degree. Early descriptions state that the ceremony took place in a room adjacent to the Chapter Room to seek admission.

At the time that the passing the Veils ceremony was in use in England the qualification for admission to the Royal Arch was that of being an Installed Master in the Craft. At the beginning of the ceremony the 4 veils are closed, and the candidate is challenged, between veils, before the opening of the next veil for a masonic sign and password. If successful, the candidate progresses through the first 3 Veils with the Principal Sojourner and is shown various artifacts on the way. During the progression, portions of holy scripture are read aloud by the Chapter Reader. In this ceremony, the final white veil is drawn back to reveal to the success full candidate the Chapter room as we would expect it to be today.

At the festive board Michael Shaw informed those present that he hopes The Province of Durham will be able to perform this interesting Ceremony again soon.

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