Emblems of Innocence and Honor: The Masonic Apron
Described as a Mason’s «badge» and an emblem of innocence, the masonic apron provides a link to Freemasonry’s historical roots. This video documentary short, produced by the Masonic Grand Lodge of California and the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry, offers new insight into one of Masonry’s most treasured ritual garments.
The Apron is not a modern invention, in fact it is the most ancient of all garments. In the 3rd Chapter of Genesis these words are written: «and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.»
We are not so much interested in Adam and Eve’s apron as we are in the Masonic apron. Boutelle, in his story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple, says: «When the construction of King Solomon’s Temple was commenced, workmen were selected to carry out the different trades. Hiram, the widow’s son, proclaimed that before entering upon the undertaking the aid of God should first be invoked, and as the Temple was to be God’s Holy House and erected to Him, each workman having a part in its construction should offer a sacrifice to God on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The Lamb had in all ages been deemed an Emblem of Innocence and was offered as a sacrifice. With the exception of the skin, the whole of the lamb was consumed. The skins were properly prepared and Hiram caused aprons to be made of them. One masonic apron from the skin of each lamb sacrificed, one apron for each mason under him.»
When the aprons had been presented to the workmen, Hiram is reported to have said: «Masonic authority makes this, the snow-white lambskin apron, its first tangible gift to you and ordains that all Masons in all ages, wherever they may be throughout the world, shall ever receive it and always wear it.» The apron is an emblem of innocence. Innocent life has gone out of the world: for every man an masonic apron – for every apron a life.
This sacrifice is typical of a greater sacrifice promised by the Almighty and prophesied by all the Prophets of Isreal – the coming of the Messiah who shall be offered for the guilty world. This is the badge of a Mason. It sets the Mason apart from other men. There shall be many who seek to wear it and those to whom it is given shall exalt themselves because of possessing it. No other gift that mere man can bestow can equal this honour and dignity. Kings can bestow no decorations or titles so worthy as this.
The Senior Warden says: «More ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honourable than the Garter or any other Order in existence, being the Badge of Innocence and bond of friendship.» The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded by Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and the Netherlands on January 10th, 1430, in honour of his marriage to Isabel, daughter of King John of Portugal.
It is not definitely known why the order was named the Golden Fleece, but there are four surmises as to its origin.
(1) In memory of Jason and his exploits in Greek Legends.
(2) Because the wealth of Flanders came largely from wool.
(3) That it was so named in memory of Gideon’s request that the Lord would prove his Power by causing the dew of heaven to fall only on a fleece set out in the night while the surrounding ground remained dewless. (Judges 6th Chapter. Verses 37 to 40).
(4) That it was named in honour or the Duke’s own mistress because he gloried in her wondrous fleece of beautiful golden hair.