Diplomas or Certificates of the advanced Degrees in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite are called Patents. The term is also sometimes applied to Commissions granted for the exercise of high Masonic authority. Literae patented was aperture that is, letters patent or open letters, was a term used in the Middle Ages in contradistinction to literae clausae, or closed letters, to designate those documents which were spread out on the whole length of the parchment, and sealed with the public seal of the sovereign; while the secret or private seal only was attached to the closed patents. The former were sealed with green wax, the latter with white. There was also a difference in their heading; letters patent were directed "universis tum praesentibus quam futuris," that is, to ad present or to come; while closed letters were directed "universis praesentibus literas inspecturis," that is, to all present who shad inspect these letters. Masonic Diplomas are therefore properly called Letters Patent, or, more briefly, Patents.
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