Holy Order of Knights Beneficent of the Holy City

The Knights Beneficent of the Holy City, more commonly referred to as Chevaliers Bienfaisant de la Cité Sainte (CBCS), took its rise following a Convention held at Wilhelmsbad in 1782 and is the oldest order connected with freemasonry which has had a continuous existence. It is derived from the Rite of Strict Observance erected in 1754, the foundation of which was attributed to Baron von Hund; it propounded a theory that freemasonry was developed directly from the Crusading Templars, embodying a belief that the Order was ruled by ‘unknown superiors’. At one time it had many Provinces scattered throughout Europe, but slowly over some 28 years the influence of the Strict Observance waned and it was finally reconstructed to become the Scottish Rectified Rite (CBCS). The degrees of the Order (not fully worked by all Priories) are those practised in the Lodge of St Andrew and The Order of the Interior, operating under the Great Priory of Helvetia. The grades of the Rite are structured as under:
Conferred in a Symbolic Lodge:
1. Entered Apprentice
2. Fellowcraft
3. Master Mason
Conferred in a Great Priory
4a. Scottish Master of St Andrew: This grade makes reference to the divine tradition of the Temple of Solomon and the abiding presence of the Holy Shekinah. It also infers that while the first Temple was laid to ruins there still remained within the sacred knowledge of the God of Israel.
4b. Perfect Master of St Andrew: Here the legend of the second Temple is developed, exhorting the true seeker to penetrate the tomb of Hiram in search of the lost word. His labours are rewarded by the allegorical personality of the Master Builder being raised like a veil to reveal the risen Christ and thereby unfolds a Christian interpretation of the letters forming the name of our GM; it also hints at the coming of the New Jerusalem, the mystic Zion.
5. Squire Novice: This grade, like that of a Knight, is conferred in a Commandery and recounts a legend that at the dawn of the Christian era, wise and illuminated sages dwelling within the Holy City were converted to Christianity by St Mark. The secret work of initiation required that their doctrine be transmitted by secret oral tradition, which was done and culminated in the Knights Templar who were reputed to be the latter custodians of this divine knowledge.
6. Knight Beneficent of the Holy City: In the final grade it is revealed to the Novice that at the zenith of ancient Egyptian civilisation and even with Orpheus, Pythagoras and Pluto a religious dogma existed, which was identical with that of Christianity. It is further explained that the Chivalry of the Holy City was manifested in good works being the perfect path to God and by the diffusion of such works ensuring the greatest good to the human family and the final attainment of the true enlightenment.
In addition to Switzerland there are today five other Great Priories in the world, situated in the following countries USA (erected 1934), France (1935), England (1937), Germany (1959) and Belgium (1986). In England the CBCS is controlled by the Great Priory of the United Military, Religious and Masonic Order of the Temple etc, but little is known of its membership as meetings are very infrequent and normally only held when a new member is received.

American CBCS ritual