A few notes on the Table Lodge – the Saints John
In the Table Lodge Ritual, we have reference to St John the Baptist. At the opening of the table lodge we hear masons dedicated Temples to “To the Holy Saints John: our brothers John the Baptist and John the Evangelist”. These Saints still have a strong presence in many international lodges and rituals, but not so here in Victoria. In some jurisdiction’s rituals, these two Saints John appear in the Lodge Opening and Obligation. The historical association with these two Saints in Freemasonry is not completely lost here in Victoria - you will notice we have a St Johns Lodge #36. St John is a very common lodge name through the Masonic world. Freemasonry’s association with these two saints is why we see their names so much in lodge names. In many jurisdictions special emphasis is placed on the feasts of St. John the Baptist (June 24th) and St. John the Evangelist (December 27th). We should also note these fall on the Summer and Winter Solstice. Chris Hodapp, author of Freemasonry for Dummies, observes that the early Christian Church linked pagan festivals with Christian ones. We all know Freemasonry drew on all sorts of religious and philosophical systems like Platonism and the Enlightenment as inspiration. Hodapp further says “John the Baptist was zealous, while John the Evangelist was learned, and by picking both of them as patron saints, Masons symbolically united both passion and reason.”
Lodge Number 196 Irish Constitution
There is no single satisfactory explanation why operative Masons adopted the two Saints John when St. Thomas, the patron of architecture and building, was perhaps a more obvious choice. However it did happen early; in 1599 we find lodge minutes in Edinburgh referring to St John the Evangelist and there are earlier mentions of him. “St. John's Masonry" is a distinctive term for Scotch Lodges, many of the older Lodges took the name of the Saint John. However in early in English Freemasonry, Christian references were removed reflecting the inclusive and non-religious of nature Freemasonry which then saw Jewish members, and later men from faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and yet still other men who believe in a Supreme being but do not identify with any particular religion, all join lodges.
Good articles on this can be found at