The earliest record of our jewel I could find was an article in the “Ann Arbor Argus” newspaper dated August 19, 1892 which was in fact a summary of a “Denver Times” article from August 8, 1892 which detailed Ann Arbor Commandery’s trip to Denver and gave information on the commandery as a whole. In it they described the armorial crest which makes up the jewel and our legend upon it, Deo duce ferro comitante which signifies ‘God for my leader, my sword for my companion.’ The phrase itself is often credited as the official motto of the Earl of Charlemount, Ireland but it’s thought to be much older, and served as traditional motto for Sir Knights throughout Ireland and beyond.
The jewel itself is known to have had at least two versions. One of which is a copper stamping, and the other cast in silver with portions plated in gold. I’ve yet to find a date on a copper version, and the only one known to be in masonic hands is on display at the Detroit Masonic Temple, but the silver and gold design dates back to at least the 1920s, and is believed to have been produced for far longer than any other. In heraldic tradition the use of silver and gold on an armorial crest signifies peace & sincerity along with generosity & elevation of the mind, and the swords in saltire behind it pointing upward signifies a readiness to fight evil. That along with the traditional Templar symbol of the red cross, and the crown above it makes for both a handsome and meaningful crest. The colors of the ribbon are unsurprisingly said to represent the University of Michigan, which has obvious implications of education and support for our local community but given the definition of “maize and blue” has changed over the years, the blue on the ribbon was much lighter.
When we began discussing which version to reproduce, the silver and gold design was the obvious choice, but we didn’t ignore the older versions entirely and took cues from them on some of the finer details and updated the colors of the ribbon to match contemporary University of Michigan colors. The jewel is currently being worked on Hattrick’s Merchandise and Service located in Arizona which also recently reproduced Northville Commandery’s jewel, so I have every confidence in their abilities, and they should be available for June’s stated conclave.
Speaking of upcoming conclaves have decided to cancel May’s conclave due to it falling on the annual Grand Lodge session, but remember we still have the Ascension Service on May 5th, and Ann Arbor Council No. 86 will be taking a road trip up to Pontiac for their Council All Degree Day, so don’t think for a second that the Ann Arbor York Rite is taking the month off. We have plenty to do and plenty to plan for.
So, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I’d just like to remind you to keep up with our website, keep up with our calendar, and keep reading the Ann Arbor Masonic News as we have a lot going on these days and we’d love to see you there.
Deo duce, ferro comitante,
Brandon Mullins, Commander