The Order of the Holy Wisdom (within the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom) is a society of persons interested in the study of the development of religious thought and customs from ancient times to the present. Our goal is to preserve and maintain the history of the symbolism of religion, and to preserve in memory, literature and practice the various modes, forms, rites, and orders of worship used throughout the scope of history.
Since the beginning Humankind has in progression worshipped God in open field, in wooded forest, at the mound, at the grove, the stone circle, the abbey, the cathedral, and observing the Grand Circuit of God’s universe. Holy Writ teaches of the Grand Sovereign’s creation,
His going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (Ps. 19:6-7)
We realize that God, from the beginning of human existence, has revealed Himself to the people of the earth in accordance with the amount of wisdom they possessed at their point in history. This Holy Wisdom will continue to increase among Seekers of Divine Knowledge until the Perfect Kingdom comes.
The Order does not influence or dictate in any way as to the private beliefs or worship of its members, and is in no way to be understood as a religious denomination even though it exists under the protection and charter of historical Christian communities. The Order is open to both Ladies and Gentlemen.
The History of the Order
The idea of the Order of Holy Wisdom was conceived in the mind of Mar Bernard, Bishop of Santa Sophia, while he was still a young priest and scholar in England. He realized that God has continually revealed Himself by love and wisdom throughout the ages. The coming of God to earth as Jesus, The Christ, was the greatest testimony of His love and care, and true religion was not the exclusive possession of any place or time. He said, “I believe in a natural development of the world and mankind, but this does not alter the principles of faith, hope and charity unfolding through the ages.”
He received a Charter for the Sublime Order of the Holy Wisdom (Ekklesia Agiae Sophiae) from Mar Frederic, Archbishop of the Diocese of Saint George, Primate of the Orthodox Keltic Church on 9 April 1939. From that point, the Order of the Holy Wisdom has grown into an international fraternity. In 1943, the founder, Mar Bernard, was elected as His Holiness Mar Mohoran Basilius Abdullah III, Patriarch of the Ancient Orthodoc Catholic Church of the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch.
Mar Basilius Abdullah III developed the Order so that it came to contain three sections: the religious section (The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church); the noblesse and chivalric activities (The Universal Spiritual Kingdom); and the esoteric section (The Ancient and Universal Rite of Cosmic Architecture). In 1969, the Order was re-organized, becoming an independent organization belonging to the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, with the whole of the work being subsumed in the new Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom. This was comprised of three sections: (1) Hierurgic, consisting of the Order of the Holy Wisdom; (2) Arcane, existing for the study of myth, legend and symbolism, and the practice of initiation; and (3) Temporal, “this aims at preserving civilising influences of ancient and medieval times, maintaining titles and usages of nobility and chivalry, studying and recording heraldic devices and modes of natural therapy.”
On 11 April 1972, Mar Basilius Abdullah III consecrated Prince Kermit Poling de Polanie-Patrikios as Mar Titus, Titular Bishop of Tayma in the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom. Mar Titus, who would eventually become the only surviving bishop of the Apostolate, established the Grand Circle of America of the Order of the Holy Wisdom which functioned until his death in 2015. At that point the jurisdiction was inherited by the Prince-Abbot of San Luigi as his successor.
Degrees of the Order
The Degrees and Titles of the Order are simply honorific designations for the place the member has achieved in the understanding of the history of religion. The first degree is open to anyone of a good moral character approved by the Order. Additional degrees are obtained by actual study and instruction, and a recognition by the leaders of the Order that the member is increasing in wisdom and knowledge.
The degrees of the Order are as follows:
1st – The Mound Degree, called OBSERVER OF THE MORAL LAW (honorary degree)
2nd – The Woodhenge Degree, called INVOKER OF THE HIGHER POWER (praying degree)
3rd – The Avebury Degree, called INITIATE IN THE ANCIENT SECRETS (reading degree)
4th – The Stonehenge Degree, called DERWYDD OF THE CELTIC FIRE (traveling degree)
5th – The Old Sarum Degree, called KEEPER OF THE HOLY GRAIL (thinking degree)
6th – The Salisbury Degree, called MASTER OF THE HOLY WISDOM (creating degree)
7th – The Divine Circle Degree, called CHIEF OF THE COUNCIL OF SEVENS (communicating degree)
The Order of the Holy Wisdom possesses no funds, charges no fees or subscriptions, and no official or member receives any payments. We do, however, expect members (other than honorary members) to assist in our work. The Order is under the spiritual patronage of the Antiochene Patriarchal Throne (now administered by the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi), and all 7th Degree members are Honorary Prelates (Titular Bishops) since that Degree is conferred only on those who have received consecration in the historic successions by the laying-on of hands.
Esoteric and Masonic Authorities within the Order
A mission of the Order has been to synthesize the various authorities and branches of esoteric wisdom, including those which had originated in Freemasonry. It should be stated, however, that the Order is and always has been fully independent from any other Masonic obedience. Moreover, the authorities held within the Order itself are distinct and separate from any personal authorities held by its members.
The Order preserves Apostolic descents from all the major Catholic and Orthodox Churches, including the Templar succession from the Roman Catholic Church via Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (commemorated in the specialized jurisdiction of Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum). However, it also preserves tactile and initiatic successions that derive firstly from Christian groups outside the Apostolic Succession and secondly from various esoteric and inner work groups. This last category includes several successions whose origin is ascribed to a supernatural source.