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Knights Templar SkullVintage Knights of ColumbusThis article was written by Michael Fox, owner of Fox Jewelry, a business dedicated to the sale
of Masonic Rings, Freemason Rings, Masonic accessories and other fraternal jewelry. Fox Jewelry offers the largest selection of Masonic Rings and other Masonic Jewelry anywhere.

There has been much research done on the links between the symbol of the skull and crossbones and the one used by the Knights Templar on their ships. In the 13th century the Knights Templar had the world’s largest fleet of sailing ships in the world. As the Knights Templar was dissolved, the remnants of the Knights Templar became the Knights of Malta. The Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta were well known for their acts of piracy on the high seas.

The new Templars; otherwise known as the Knights of Malta became well known for their acts of piracy on the high seas. That is why there is a direct link between the uses of the Skull and Crossbones on the sails of the pirates and has become a modern day symbol of piracy. The image of the Skull and Crossbones flying over the ships of the pirates as they go about their business of robbing, rape and murder, is nothing  more than a device to strike fear into those who saw a ship flying the flag that was bearing down on the innocent parties.

There is however a lot more to the origin and its use and meanings than the explanation given above.

In Freemasonry, the use of the Skull and Crossbones is as prevalent as the Compass and Square and is often shown on headstones and ceremonial swords and aprons and sashes worn by the Freemasons. The 3rd Degree or Master Mason degree is a ritual involving the raising of the dead. The Skull and Crossbones are placed on the death shroud when a brother is raised as the Worshipful Master explains that the bones depicted on the Skull and Crossbones are emblems of mortality. The Skull and Crossbones remind us that it is very natural to fear death but as a Mason it is not something to dread but rather as a motivating factor to complete our own work here on earth as men and Freemasons. It is a reminder to every Mason as we sit in the Lodge during the raising of a Fellowcraft to the Sublime Degree if Master Mason that death is always near and that it can come and any time and in any place regardless of who is involved.

A more modern version of the Skull and Crossbones also known as the Death’s Head was common amongst the SS of Nazi Germany and worn on the officer’s caps. The Skull and Crossbones was also shown on the very highly regarded Totenkopfring/Deaths Head Ring that was awarded to SS officers in recognition of the devotion to duty, personal achievement and loyalty to the Fuhrer.

The Memento Mori otherwise known as the Skull and Crossbones is a grim reminder of our own mortality and has its roots in the York Rite degrees of Chivalry such as the Knights Malta and The Knights Templar; thus the symbol of the Skull and Crossbones laid over the Knights Templar emblem as shown in the pictures above.

It is also a very important symbol within the Knights of Columbus.

Fox Jewelry has the largest selection of Masonic Rings and other fraternal rings anywhere in the world!

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Email address: mfox@cableone.net

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