A pllilosophic and social organization established in 1785 at Norwich, England, meeting at the College of Saint Luke, and devoted, to quote from their own original records, To the cultivation of a liberal and rational system of good fellowship. Whatever evils may have arisen from monastic institutions, or however incompatible with refined policy the sequestered habits of former times may be considered, it is allowed, on all authorities, that with in the gloomy mansions of the ancient religious fraternities the fine arts were nurtured, philosophy and science flourished; all the profundity of erudition was deposited; and to add lustre to the scene, the eleemosynary virtues took their stand before their gates, and dispensed the blessings of charity far and wide throughout the world!
Disclaiming everything which appertains to religious functions of the monks and friars this Society professes only to imitate what has been justly deemed praiseworthy in that description of men; to emulate their scientific acquisitions their love of learning, their benevolence and philanthropy; and, adopting decent mirth in lieu of their austere rules, to exhibit the picture of a convent free from the dark and offensive shadows of bigotry, enthusiasm, and superstition.... To give external consistency to this plan, and to strengthen the idea of fraternal combination, the United Friars have thought proper to assume the habiliments of all the known Monastic Orders; but in every instance where they have adopted the formalities of the Romish Church special care has been taken to divest them of all reference to religion or sacred objects and, in lieu thereof to annex to them meanings Significant to those moral and social duties which apply essentially to the interest and happiness of mankind.
The officers were Abbot, Prior, Procurator, Confessor, Bursar, Hospitaller, and Librarian. Each year when the Abbot was elected he assumed the name of Paul I, Paul II, and so on. The Order did much charitable work and during 1796-1820 the Almoner's Book shows that 5100 pounds, about $ 24,786, were expended among the poor. A Library was one of their first achievements. An impressive initiation ceremony was held and each initiate was given some Special charge by the presiding officer.. A small group of men at London associated themselves with the organization and from 1818 to 1824 held meetings twice monthly at the College of Saint Mark in Great Saint Helens. They elected no Abbot, out of deference to the parent Body, their highest and presiding officer being the Prior. At these meetings the members read papers, usually historical, and each one of the Fraternity was required, soon after initiation, to render an account of that Order whose garb he assumed on his profession. The London Branch was finally disbanded about 1825 (see brother Mackenzie's Royal masonic Cyclopedia)
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