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Quatuor Coronati (Four Crowned Martyrs)

From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Quatuor Coronati (Four Crowned Martyrs) 
Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 12:35:52 -0800

Mike Bispham ( asked: 

> Has anyone heard of 'the four crowned martyrs, the patrons of 
> architects'?  

Yep, the Quatuor Coronati are VERY important in Freemasonic legend -- in
fact, their name was given to the foremost world-wide Masonic research
society. Members of the QC belong to their own "mother lodge" as well as
to the QC lodge; the function of the latter is to publish research
papers on Masonic history and symbolism ("Ars Quatuor Coronatorum"
a.k.a. "Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge"). 

I just did a search at on the term "Quatuor Coronati" and
found a batch of stuff, of which one is slightly off-topic to your
query,  but amazingly well-written  and interesting -- it is a history
of Aleister Crowley's O.T.O. as "Phoney Masonry." The URL is

More to the point, also from, here is the literal answer to
your query, from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1909:


Four Crowned Martyrs

The old guidebooks to the tombs of the Roman martyrs make
mention, in connection with the catacomb of Sts. Peter and
Marcellinus on the Via Labicana, of the Four Crowned Martyrs
(Quatuor Coronati), at whose grave the pilgrims were wont to
worship (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I, 178-79). One of
these itineraries, the "Epitome libri de locis sanctorum
martyrum", adds the names of the four martyrs (in reality
five): "IV Coronati, id est Claudius, Nicostratus,
Simpronianus, Castorius, Simplicitus". These are the names
of five martyrs, sculptors in the quarries of Pannonia (now
a part of Austria-Hungary, south-west of the Danube), who
gave up their lives for their Faith in the reign of
Diocletian. The Acts of these martyrs, written by a revenue
officer named Porphyrius probably in the fourth century,
relates of the five sculptors that, although they raised no
objections to executing such profane images as Victoria,
Cupid, and the Chariot of the Sun, they refused to make a
statue of AEsculapius for a heathen temple. For this they
were condemned to death as Christians. They were put into
leaden caskets and drowned in the River Save. This happened
towards the end of 305. The foregoing account of the
martyrdom of the five sculptors of Pannonia is substantially
authentic; but later on a legend sprang up at Rome
concerning the Quatuor Coronati, according to which four
Christian soldiers (cornicularii) suffered martyrdom at Rome
during the reign of Diocletian, two years after the death of
the five sculptors. Their offence consisted in refusing to
offer sacrifice to the image of AEsculapius. The bodies of
the martyrs were interred at St. Sebastian and Pope
Melchiades at the third milestone on the Via Labicana, in a
sandpit where rested the remains of others who had perished
for the Faith. Since the names of the four martyred soldiers
could not be authentically established, Pope Melchiades
commanded that, the date of their death (8 November) being
the same as that of the Pannonian sculptors, their
anniversary should be celebrated on that day, under the
names of Sts. Claudius, Nicostratus, Symphorianus, Castor,
and Simplicius. This report has no historic foundation. It
is merely a tentative explanation of the name Quatuor
Coronati, a name given to a group of really authenticated
martyrs who were buried and venerated in the catatomb of
Sts. Peter and Marcellinus, the real origin of which,
however, is not known. They were classed with the five
martyrs of Pannonia in a purely external relationship.
Numerous manuscripts on the legend as well as the Roman
Martyrology give the names of the Four Crowned Martyrs,
supposed to have been revealed at a later date, as Secundus,
Severianus, Carpoforus, and Victorius. But these four
martyrs were not buried in Rome, but in the catacomb of
Albano; their feast was celebrated on 7 August, under which
date it is cited in the Roman Calender of Feasts of 354.
These martyrs of Albano have no connection with the Roman
martyrs described above. Of the four Crowned Martyrs we know
only that they suffered death for the Faith and the place
where they were buried. They evidently were held in great
veneration at Rome, since in the fourth and fifth century a
basilica was erected and dedicated in the Caelian Hill,
probably in the neibourhood of spot where tradition located
their execution. This became one of the titular churches of
Rome, was restored several times and still stands. It is
first mentioned among the signatures of a Roman council in
595. Pope Leo IV ordered the relics removed, about 850, from
the Via Labicana to the church dedicated to their memory,
together with the relics of the five Pannonian martyrs,
which had been brought to Rome at some period now unknown.
Both group of maryrs are commemorated on 8 November.

J. P. KIRSCH Transcribed by Mary and Joseph P. Thomas In
memory of Joseph Kunneth

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI Copyright  1909 by
Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright  1999 by
Kevin Knight Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort,
Censor Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York 


But the literal answer is not the most important in this case :-) so
next, from 'Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia' copyright 1961 -- of which
some  entries are online --  we get this information:


The Legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs

The Legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs (Quatuor Coronati) was not a 
legend of the British Freemasons and is found in none of the Gothic 
Constitutions except the Regius MS., but it was a legend of the German 
Steinmetzen and, since these Christian Martyrs had been honored by the 
Popes, the legend was familiar to monastic literature.

-- 'Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia' copyright 1961


Now, the Regius Ms., mentioned by Coil, being the oldest British
document of Fremasonry and the only one to mention the Quatuor Coronati,
i should like to give Coil's interpretation of it, from the same URL. 

Note also that at the end of this entry, we see the earliest instance of
the well-known Masonic phrase "So mote it be!" -- which many
contemporary Wiccans believe is a Wicca phrase. In actuality, the
founder of Wicca, Gerald Gardner, was a member of a Co-Masonic lodge,
and adapted the phrase from the standard Freemasonic ritual. 


Regius MS:

The oldest of these [late Medieval English Masonic] documents [a.k.a.
Gothic Constitutions] is known as the Regius MS., sometimes called the
Halliwell MS. for the reason that its Masonic character was  first
discovered and announced by Mr. Halliwell-Phillips, a non-Mason. 

It is written on vellum, 4 by 5 inches in size and bound in Russia 
leather. It is lodged in the British Museum, where for many years it was 
cataloged as "A Poem of Moral Duties," which aided in hiding its Masonic 
character until 1839. It bears no date, but antiquaries have placed its 
date at somewhere between 1350 and 1450 A. D., with the preponderance of 
authority at about 1390. It is in the form of a rude epic poem and was 
probably the work of a priest or monk who had access to older Masonic 
documents. The title, which is Latin, is translated: "Here begins the 
Constitutlons of fhe Art of Geometry according to Euclid." This MS. 
is not a true Gothic Constitution, none of which is in verse, but is a 
rhymed copy of such a document, together with certain non-Masonic matter 
as follows: 

(1) The legendary history of Geometry or Masonry in substance 
    similar to that found in the Gothic Constitutions; 
(2) Fifteen Articles for the Master and Fifteen Points for the
(3) An ordinance relating to assemblies; 
(4) The legend of the Four Crowned Martyrs; 
(5) Rules of Behavior in Church; and 
(6) Some rules of deportment or etiquette. 

Parts (1), (2), and (3) are purely Masonic, (4) relates to the
Freemasons but is not found in any of the Gothic Constitutions, while
(5) and (6) are not Masonic at all. The poem contains 794 lines, of
which the following, beginning at line 55, is a small sample:

   "The Clerk Euclid in this wise founded 
   This Craft of geometry in Egyptian land, 
   In Egypt he taught it full wide, 
   In divers lands on every side;
   Many years afterward, I understand 
   Before the Craft came into this land. 
   This Craft came into England, as I now say, 
   In the time of good King Athelstan's day; 
   He made them both hall and likewise bower 
   And high temples of great honor,
   To disport him in both day and night, 
   And to worship his God with all his might."

It then proceeds to relate how Athelstan sent about after Masons and 
called an assembly of lords, dukes, earls, barons, knights, squires and 
many more and gave them charges, of which the following is a complete 
list, partly modernized:

     Fifteen Articles for the Master Mason:
 1. He must be "stedefast, trusty and trewe."
 2. He must be at the general congregation to know where it shall be 
 3. He must take apprentices for seven years "hys craft to lurn."
 4. He must take no bondman for apprentice.
 5. The apprentice must be of lawful blood and "have his lymes hole."
 6. To take the Lord for his apprentice as much as his fellows.
 7. He shall accept no thief for an apprentice "lest hyt wolde turne the 
     craft to schame."
 8. "Any mon of crafte, be not also perfyt, he may hym change."
 9. He must undertake no work, "but he conne bothe hyt ende and make."
10. No master must supplant another but "be as syster and brother."
11. He must be both "fayr and fre" and teach by his might.
12. He shall not disparage his fellow's work but "hyt amende."
13. He must teach his apprentice.
14. So that he, "withynne hys terme, of hym dyvers poyntes may lurne."
15. Do nothing that "wolde turne the craft to schame."

     Fifteen Points for the Craftmen:
 1. "Must love wel God and holy churche and his mayster and felows."
 2. Work truly for "huyres apon werk and halydays."
 3. Must keep his master's counsel in chamber and "yn logge."
 4. "No mon to hys craft be false."
 5. Must accept their pay meekly from the master and not strive.
 6. Must "stond wel yn Goddes lawe."
 7. Respect the chastity of his master's wife and "his felows 
 8. Be a true mediator and act fairly to all.
 9. To pay well and truly to man and woman.
10. Disobedient masons to be dealt with by the assembly and forfeit 
    membership in the craft.
11. Help one another by instructing those deficient in knowledge and 
12. Imprisonment for disobedience to the assembly.
13. He shall "swere never to be no thef" and never to help any of false 
14. Swear to be true to the King.
15. Must obey the assembly on pain of having to forsake the craft and 
    suffer mprisonment.

The poem ends with: 
   "Amen! Amen! so mote hyt be! 
    Say we so alle per charyte."

-- 'Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia' copyright 1961


I hope this is what you were looking for!

cat yronwode

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