A Holy Royal Arch Chapter is quite different in structure to a Craft Lodge. There are three Principals who jointly preside over the Chapter; three Sojourners; three Guardians of the Veils and two Scribes: Ezra and Nehemiah, who fulfil similar roles to the Secretary and Inner Guard respectively in a Craft Lodge.
The First, Second and Third Principals generally serve for one year and choose their team; the Principals, Treasurer and Janitor being elected and all other officers being then appointed.
The progressive offices, in order of progression, are: Janitor, Steward, Guardian of the First Veil, Guardian of the Second Veil, Guardian of the Third Veil, Second Assistant Sojourner, First Assistant Sojourner, Principal Sojourner, Scribe Nehemiah, Third Principal, Second Principal and First Principal.
The other offices are: Organist, Choirmaster, Almoner, Director of Ceremonies, Assistant Director of Ceremonies, Scribe Ezra, Assistant Scribe Ezra, Treasurer and Chaplain.
Within the Victorian Constitution, six months after receiving his Master Mason’s Certificate, a Freemason is entitled to join the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem, more familiarly known as the Holy Royal Arch.
The Holy Royal Arch whilst being an integral part of Freemasonry is organised as a separate Order. It is variously described as the “essence of Freemasonry”, the “foundation and keystone of the whole Masonic structure”, and as “the root, heart and marrow of freemasonry”. Every Master Mason has, and should take, the opportunity of discovering these qualities for himself by joining the Holy Royal Arch.
As with other Masonic Degrees, the ritual takes the form of allegory but the Holy Royal Arch is concerned with encouraging the spiritual aspects of life without compromising or encroaching on an individual’s belief or religion.
The ceremony in the Holy Royal Arch is colourful, thought provoking and uplifting. It is based on the legend of the rebuilding of King Solomon’s Temple and invokes simultaneously sensations of humility and our dependence on our unseen Creator.
We meet in Chapters and our meetings are known as Convocations. Members are known as Companions. As with Craft Masonry, each Chapter is organised individually.
Whilst the Holy Royal Arch is similar in some respects to Craft Masonry, it is different in many aspects and, indeed, it is most interesting in its differences. For example we wear an apron but of a different design and colours, crimson and dark blue, together with a sash and a jewel. We have three Principals who preside over the Chapter. They, and other Officers, are changed annually at the Installation Convocation.
Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Victoria controls the Holy Royal Arch in the State of Victoria and is organised similarly to United Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria.