Chevaliers Bienfaisant de La Cite Sainte
The Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cité Sainte is the one of the oldest orders with a continuous existence connected with Freemasonry. It was originally founded as the Rite of Strict Observance by Karl Gotthelf, Baron von Hund, in 1751. It continued to flourish and attract outstanding political and royal members until his death in 1776. It emphasized a Templar origin of Freemasonry, and an "Unknown Superior" known as the "Knight of the Red Feather".
The Great Priory of America was established in 1934 by authority of the Grand Prieure Independant d’Helvétie when Letters Patent for the Rite were delivered to William Moseley Brown and John Raymond Shute, II. These Knights were invested with the Supreme Degree of the rite on August 27, 1934 at Geneva, Switzerland, which represents also the date of our charter.
Great Priory controls six degrees, and the organization for their management. These are:
A. Lodges of the Strict Observance
1. Entered Apprentice
3. Master Mason
B. Lodge of St. Andrew
1. Scottish Master
2. Perfect Scottish Master
C. Order of the Interior
2. Knight Beneficient of the Holy City of Jerusalem
Anciently, the Rite of Strict Observance conferred the craft degrees which right has never been surrendered. However, the present organization recognizes symbolic Grand Lodges as the sole authority for establishing and governing lodges of Symbolic Freemasonry.
Membership in the Great Priory of America is by invitation and is limited to Master Masons who profess a belief in the Christian religion.
Contrary to what has been published in the past, the Charter of the Great Priory of America does not provide for the establishment of only three prefectures.
Membership in each Prefecture is limited to eighty one with the possibility of a full complement of two-hundred and forty-three. This figure has never been reached.
Great Priory is vested in the Directorate composed of the Great Prior, Deputy Great Prior, Great Treasurer, Great Chancellor, and the three Prefects. Each officer is elected at the annual meeting held in February at Washington, D.C.
To him who holds the C.B.C.S. there is nothing beyond the ne plus ultra of the craft. It is the summit of Christian Knighthood and is the only comparable Order in this country approaching civil knighthood in Europe. It is guarded carefully and only conferred infrequently upon those who are deemed worthy.