Thus, the apron is proudly compared with the noblest decorations of ancient Rome and of both ancient and modern Europe.
The Order of the Golden Fleece was of high repute
as an Order of Knighthood. It was established in Flanders, France in 1429
by the Duke of Burgundy, a member of the then royal family, who selected the
fleece for its badge because wool was the staple production of the country.
Since that time, it has been considered as one of the most illustrious Orders of
The Roman Eagle was to Romans the ensign of
imperial power. Made of silver or bronze, the Roman Eagle was placed atop
the pole of the military standards (flags). (circa 104 B.C.)
The Order of the Garter, was and is, still
considered the highest decoration that can be bestowed upon a subject by a
sovereign of Great Britain. It is an order of chivalry or knighthood
originating in medieval England. It is the pinnacle of honor in the United
Kingdom to have the Order of the Garter bestowed upon you.
Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929, Volume I, The New Kentucky Monitor,
arranged by Brother Henry Pirtle, 1918, for the Grand Lodge of that State)
The Master Mason Apron
white leathern apron. It is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a
Mason: more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, and when worthily
worn, more honorable than the Star and Garter, or any other Order that can be
conferred upon you at this or any future period by king, prince, potentate, or
any other person, except he be a Mason and within the Body of a just and legally
constituted Lodge of such."
"It may be that, in
the years to come, upon your head shall rest the laurel wreaths of victory;
pendant from your breast may hang jewels fit to grace the diadem of an eastern
potentate; yea, more than these:
...for with the coming light your ambitious
feet may tread round after round the ladder that leads to fame in our mystic
circle, and even the purple of our Fraternity may rest upon your honored
...but never again by mortal hands, never again until your enfranchised
spirit shall have passed upward and inward through the gates of pearl, shall any
honor so distinguished, so emblematic of purity and all perfection, be bestowed
upon you as this, which I now confer.
It is yours; yours to wear through
an honorable life, and at your death to be placed upon the coffin which contains
your earthly remains, and with them laid beneath the silent clods of the valley."
"Let its pure and
spotless surface be to you an ever-present reminder of purity of life, of
rectitude of conduct, a never-ending argument for higher thoughts, for nobler
deeds, for greater achievements; and when at last your weary fee shall have
reached the end of their toilsome journey,
...and from your nerveless grasp forever
drop the working tools of a busy life, may the record of your life and conduct
be as pure and spotless as this fair emblem which I place within your hands
...and when your trembling soul shall stand naked and alone before the
great white throne, there to receive judgment for the deeds done while here in
the body, may it be your portion to hear from Him who sitteth as Judge Supreme
these welcome words:
'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter
thou into the joy of thy Lord.'"
"I charge you-take
it, wear it with pleasure to yourself and honor to the Fraternity."
Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, 1929, Volume I)
Innocence of Conduct and Purity of Heart
The Master Mason apron teaches the aspiring Mason that
none are admitted to that honor but such as were cleansed of all impurities of
both body and mind.
Purity of life and rectitude of conduct is essential
and necessary to gain admittance into that Celestial Lodge on High where the
Supreme Architect of the Universe forever presides.
In primitive times, it was an ecclesiastical (religious)
decoration more than a civil decoration.
The earliest mention of the apron was when Melchizedek,
with Abraham, started the priesthood. (circa 2100 B.C.) Melchizedek
was the Most High Priest and the first to wear the apron as the badge of
religious authority. The apron is a high honor and is the symbol of a holy
(From Signs and Symbols of Freemasonry, Dr.
Oliver, Lexture X, Page 196)
Ancient Badge of Distinction
The apron appears to have been, in ancient times, an
honorary badge of distinction. None but the superior orders of the
priesthood were permitted to adorn themselves with ornamented girdles made of
blue, purple and crimson, decorated with gold upon a background of fine white
Historic Ceremonies of Investiture have been common to
all nations of the Earth from the earliest periods.
The Indian, the Persian, the Jewish, the Ethiopian and
the Egyptian aprons, though equally superb, all bore a character distinct from
each other. Some were plain white.
Others were striped with blue,
purple and crimson. Some were of wrought gold...others were adorned and
decorated with superb tassels and fringes.
Israelites: Historically, among the
Israelites, the girdle formed a part of the investiture of the priesthood.
Persia: The candidate was invested with a
Hindostan: A sash was used called the sacred
zennar, which was substituted for the apron.
Essenes: The Jewish sect of the Essenes
clothed their novices with a white robe.
Japanese: The Japanese practice certain
rites of initiation, invest their candidates with a white apron, bound round the
loins with a zone or girdle.
Scandanavia: The military genius of the
people caused them to substitute a white shield, but its presentation was
accompanied by an emblematic instruction not unlike that which is connected with
the Freemason's apron.
Roman Priests: Roman priests wore white
garments when they sacrificed.
Druids: The Druids changed the color of the
garment presented to their initiates with each degree; white, however was the
color appropriated to the last, or degree of perfection. It was, according
to their ritual, intended to teach the aspirant that none were admitted to that
honor but such as were cleansed from all impurities both of body and mind.
Formation of the Grand Lodge of England
At the time of the formation of the Grand Lodge of
England, the Master Mason apron was white - no ornaments at first, and full
size, similar in every respect to that of the Operative Mason's apron.
Color of a Master Mason Apron:
Due to the preservation of its symbolic character - its
color and its material:
The color of a Master Mason apron should be pure
unspotted white, which is esteemed as an emblem of innocence and purity.
Material of a Master Mason Apron:
A Master Mason apron must be made of lambskin. No
other substance, such as linen, silk or satin, could be substituted without
entirely destroying the emblematic character of the apron, for the material of
the Master Mason's apron constitutes one of the most important symbols of his
....The lamb having always been considered as an appropriate
emblem of innocence.
Drill Apron: Your drill apron is symbolic
of your lambskin Master Mason apron.
Why, then, do Freemasons wear their lambskin Master Mason apron with such pride?
Honor: The reason the Master Mason apron is more
honorable than the Star and Garter is that all it teaches is exemplified by its
Spiritual Knighthood: The Master Mason apron is a
reminder to the Master Mason to do no moral evil to any person. It speaks
to the charitable forgiveness of his brethren when they purposely or
non-purposely do him evil.
It is the emblem of his dedication to a
spiritual knighthood with which man virtuously rises above the crudeness and the
ignorance of men.
Dignity and Virtue: The Master Mason apron
should be worn with dignity and honor as it exemplifies man's virtues upon which
during his manhood, he may wear it both with pleasure to himself while honoring
End of Albert Mackey's Discourse
Most American Freemasons wear a Master Mason Apron which is 14 inches by 16 inches and is made of white, synthetic leather with Masonic symbols embroidered onto them in blue thread.
Some members wear an apron which has ties in the back, however most prefer the belted version. To keep them clean before and after lodge work, many Master Masons place them in zippered apron cases which have handles.