Middlesex Freemasons 'Pass The Veils' in Hungary

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Hungary is a long way from Middlesex, but in the quest for disseminating masonic enlightenment and learning, several Royal Arch Freemasons from Middlesex made the journey

Their destination was the City of Kecskemét, which is the eighth largest city in Hungary with a population of circa 110,000. On the weekend of 29th/30th June 2018, a team of Middlesex Royal Arch Provincial Grand Stewards, with permission from Supreme Grand Chapter and accompanied by Andrew Ford from Surrey and Sean Austin from Middlesex, made a visit to the Symbolic Grand Chapter of Hungary, to deliver a demonstration of the Passing of the Veils ceremony. 

The demonstration gives an insight into what precedes the Exaltation ceremony in a Bristol Chapter. Since 1834, within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Grand Chapter of Somerset, it is the only Province in England where the ritual is performed, but only in Chapters in the City of Bristol itself. However, it is used elsewhere as part of the Royal Arch workings in the United States of America, Scotland and Ireland. English Royal Arch Masons in the other Provinces will know of this working and of the fraternal invitation that extends to them by Freemasons in Bristol to witness the working.

The Passing of the Veils ceremony refers to and uses the Ark of the Covenant: ‘a table on which rested the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets of stone and the pot of manna.’ One was not available in Hungary, and given the significant size and weight of transporting this piece of furniture, Middlesex Freemason Steve Heynes requested that one be produced locally. This was duly done using supplied photographs.

However, there was no scale supplied and the Hungarian craftsman looked up the dimensions – some wires were crossed though and an impressively larger version was produced instead.

An informal BBQ was held on the Friday night after arrival where, as well as being treated to a wonderful feast, the demonstration team were entertained by Márk Beke, Hungary's young musician of the year who gave a lovely evening of Trombone playing interspersed with traditional Hungarian dancing from children from the Kodály Zoltán School of Music. The following morning, the Symbolic Grand Chapter of Hungary held a meeting with the team from Middlesex delivering the demonstration of the Passing of the Veils ceremony, which was enjoyed by all that attended.

On the Saturday afternoon, the St Stephen Lodge No. 7 of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary held its Installation meeting. St Stephen’s Lodge under the guidance of Mark Walton and Seamus Conlan hosted the weekend. This was also an unusual meeting as St Stephen Lodge use the old workings and did the full Installation in the Board of Installed Masters, including proving the Master Elect in all three degrees before he was entrusted.

The Festive Board took place afterwards where each member of the visiting team was presented with a decanter of Pálinka (Hungary fruit brandy) engraved with the crest of the Symbolic Grand Chapter.

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