“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1: 5
Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic, and social backgrounds, share a belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of mankind. For generations, Masons have come together to become better men and appreciate the bonds of fraternalism through centuries-old lessons and philosophies. Many seasonal rituals, ceremonies, and celebrations have arisen over the years, including the feast of St. John the Evangelist.
The Holy Saints John
Freemasonry reveres two Saints John: Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. St. John the Baptist is the better known of the two and is recognized as the patron saint of the Medieval stonemasons of Europe in the Masonic tradition. The Nativity of John, or St. John’s Day, is a Christian feast day celebrating the birth of John the Baptist and is observed each year on June 24. This day is renowned in Masonic history as the day that the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1717.
Comparatively, St. John the Evangelist is less known than his counterpart. Still, he appears in the New Testament under the names John the Apostle, John the Divine of Patmos, and as a follower of Jesus. He is also thought to have authored the book of Revelation. Many of the writings he appears in are reflected in Masonic themes and phrases, offering an ideological and philosophical perspective that aligns with Masonic philosophy.
The Feast of St. John the Evangelist
Because his writings resonated with early Masons, such as the interconnection of God and light, St. John the Evangelist is believed to be a patron saint of Freemasonry. The Feast of St. John the Evangelist has long been significant in the Masonic tradition and was initially held on the winter solstice, symbolizing the seasonal movement from darkness to light through lengthening days.
Dating back to the 18th century, most Freemasons typically held installations of Presidents and Grand Masters. The Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Ancient Grand Lodge of England, and the Grand Lodge of All England at York installed their Grand Masters on the feast day of John the Evangelist, and The United Grand Lodge of England was formed on December 27, 1813. In Modern Freemasonry, most Masons celebrate St. John’s Feast on December 27.
Want to learn more about the patron saints of Freemasonry? Read our blog on the Holy Saints’ John!