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The Grand Lodge Certificate

 

The Certificate is delivered to the Master Masons of the Grand Lodge of Italy. It is the only document that certifies that a Brother has been regularly initiated, passed and raised.


Presentation

As Master Mason you are entitled to receive a certificate from the Grand Lodge, in which it is stated that you have been regularly initiated, passed and raised.
We now present your certificate, and if you want to examine it, I will give you an explanation of its meaning and the symbols that appear in it. The certificate shall include, at the top, the name of the Grand Master, who, of course, varies over time.
However, the rest of the design has remained unchanged since the use of the certificate was introduced in the United Grand Lodge of England in 1819.
The depicted emblems are the ornaments and tools of the Freemasons Lodge and, all together, can be considered a pictorial representation of the Lodge. With the exception of only one of these emblems, all the others are described in the First Degree "Reading" and appear with the other ones, in the First Degree Tracing Board, designed to illustrate the first "Reading."
Therefore, the certificate can be considered as a simplification of the First Degree Tracing Board. A predominant feature of the certificate is the representation of the three major pillars, which are considered the support of the Lodge of Freemasons. The one in the center is of Ionic order, the Doric one is on the left and the Corinthian one is on the right.
In Freemasonry, they indicate: Wisdom, Strength and Beauty and represent Solomon, King of Israel, famous for his wisdom in building, completing and devoting the Temple in Jerusalem to God, King Hiram of Tyre, because of its strength in supporting the construction of the temple with his workers and materials, and Hiram Abif, for its particular and masterful art in decorating the Temple.

These pillars are physically represented in the Lodge with three candelabra that support the three lesser lights: that one near the WM is of Ionic order and denotes wisdom, that one near the SW is of the Doric order and represents the Force; and that one near the JW is of Corinthian order and denotes beauty.

These pillars are placed on the black and white mosaic, or on the checkered floor of the Lodge, which represents the Light and the Darkness, that is the joys and sorrows of our alternate existence on this earth. On the checkered floor you can see the Celestial Globe and the Earth, indicating the universality of Freemasonry. This element is not described in the first "Reading" and absent from the First Degree Tracing Board.

The globes were originally part of the usual furniture of the Lodge, but nowadays it is not so, they could be placed on the columns located to the west, or on small columns located on the table of the SW and JW. The Tools of the Lodge, so called in the Reading, are also depicted. They are: the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and the Compass, also called the three great, though emblematic lights.

The three great lights, placed on the pedestal of the WM, are generally depicted together, but here the compass is placed somewhere else. The so-called "jewels" are also represented: three mobile and three immobile. The mobile jewels are the square, the level and the plumb rule. They are called "Jewels" because of their moral significance, since the square teaches morality, the level equality and the plumb Rule righteousness and justice in life and actions. They are referred to as mobile jewels, as they are worn by the WM and his Wardens and transmitted to their successors at the Installation.

The immobile jewels are: the tracing board , the rough ashlar and the perfect ashlar. They are so called because they are exposed, fixed at the sight of the Brethren, so that they can receive their moral meanings.

The tracing table is used by the WM to track lines and drawings, the rough ashlar serves to occupy the Entered Apprentice who works it, marks it and engraves it, and the perfect ashlar is used by the expert Fellow Craft to try and repair his jewels. The tracing board depicted here, as the First Degree Tracing Table, is a true tablet used by a surveyor or for drawing, and since the surveyor needs either a pencil or a ruler to draw lines and designs, these tools are shown here as indispensable tools for the tracing table.

The rough ashlar is described as a not worked stone, as it comes from the quarry, and, as the Entered Apprentice needs a chisel and a heavy maul to make the rough ashlar suitable for the structure, these tools appear as essential accessories of the rough ashlar.

The perfect ashlar is described as a stone in the shape of a cube or square, ready to be tested with the square and compass. Since the square is already here depicted together with the Volume of the Sacred Law, which is indispensable to its verification, it is reported the only compass.

Up to a little time ago, the left side of the text between the Pillars, testified that the Brother had been regularly initiated, passed and raised, while in the right side the text was reproduced in the Latin language. Today, the text appears only in our language. The year of initiation, however, is expressed as A.L., or  Anno Lucis, i.e. the year in the era of Masonic Light, 4000 years before the Christian era.

The seal of the Grand Lodge is stamped dry and the certificate is signed by the Grand Secretary.

Your certificate is a kind of passport to regular Freemasonry and, as you may be asked to show during a visit to a foreign Grand Lodge recognized by the Grand Lodge, or even during a visit to a Lodge of our own Grand Lodge, it is convenient that you keep it with your signs within your grasp.

It must not be framed or placed in sight, either in your home or elsewhere. The certificate reports that the mere production of the certificate shall not entitle you to enter a Lodge without due examination.

Your certificate is not, at present, complete: your signature is missing; you must sign in the space reserved to it in the margin. Your signature must not be changed in the future. You have to sign now at the table of the Secretary.