Melita Royal Arch Chapter No. 284

Three Handled Loving Cup

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This beautiful Three Handled Loving Cup was made for Melita Royal Arch Chapter No. 284 of Philadelphia. Pa. and is dated 1903-1910.   It is decorated with the Holy Royal Arch and the Ark of the Covenant on the front and the Keystone and Triple Tau on the reverse.  It has orange transfers and lettering with gold bands.  It stands 7 inches tall and was made by Tho's Maddock's Sons Co., of Trenton, New Jersey.

The Ceremony of the Loving Cup
An Ancient Masonic Ceremony of Sharing
Author Unknown

This is an old tradition in Wellington Lodge No. 1385 usually performed at the conclusion of a banquet. It is a very old custom which seems to have almost died out, at least in Craft Masonry. Wellington tries to maintain this tradition and is famous for it.

Actually the Loving Cup should be passed after the Entered Apprentice song has been sung. This is a ceremony handed down through the ages and need not be limited to initiations, which Wellington does not do.

The procedure was for three Brethren to stand, two would unsheath their swords and the third (middle) to hold up the cup by the two handles and to drink whilst the two others defended him, one facing him and the other with his back to the drinker’s back. Having taking his draught, the drinker then wipes the cup with a napkin. The two brethren with thier backs together then turn to face each other and the cup is handed over. The next brother in the line now stands to protect the back of the drinker, and so on.

A later variation of the Loving Cup for toasting is the large two handled wassail bowl or cup, usually pewter or silver and sometimes bearing the Lodge badge or crest. At the festive Board it is passed round from Brother to Brother around the table. The word “wassail” comes from the old English “Waes Hail”, meaning “Be thou whole and of good health”. The custom of protection of the drinker’s back is said to date back to Saxon times, when a man might be treacherously stabbed whilst drinking - hence a friend or two defend him with drawn swords. This may be borne out by the murder, in A.D. 979 of King Edward (later known as Edward the Martyr), when he was so stabbed on the orders of his stepmother, Elfrida, so that her own son, Ethelred could become King instead. He was stabbed at the feast while drinking mead from a two handled loving cup by a paid assassin.

There are many forms of the ceremony but the process of sharing, coupled with mutual protection is the same — it reinforces the ancient Masonic bond we have with each other.

 

         

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