- Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, commonly known as Shriners and abbreviated A.A.O.N.M.S., established in 1870 is an appendant body to
Freemasonrybased in the United States. The organization is best-known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children they administer and the red fezzes that members wear.
In 1870, there were several thousand Masons in Manhattan, many of whom lunched at the Knickerbocker Cottage at a special table on the second floor. There, the idea of a new fraternity for Masons stressing fun and fellowship was discussed. Dr.
Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florencetook the idea seriously enough to act upon it.
Florence, a world-renowned actor, while on tour in
Marseilles, was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The entertainment was something in the nature of an elaborately staged musical comedy. At its conclusion, the guests became members of a secret society. Florence took copious notes and drawings at his initial viewing and on two other occasions, once in Algiersand once in Cairo. When he returned to New York in 1870, he showed his material to Fleming. [Shriners of North America. "A Short History: Shriners of North America and Shriners Hospitals". September 2004 edition. pp. 3–4.]
Fleming took the ideas supplied by Florence and converted them into what would become the "Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.)". Fleming created the ritual, emblem and costumes. Florence and Fleming were initiated August 13, 1870, and initiated 11 other men on June 16, 1871. [Shriners of North America. "A Short History: Shriners of North America and Shriners Hospitals". September 2004 edition. p.5.]
The group adopted a Middle Eastern theme and soon established "
Temples" meeting in " Mosques" (though the term "Temple" have now generally been replaced by " Shrine Auditorium" or "Shrine Center"). The first Temple established was Mecca Temple (now known as Mecca Shriners), established at the New York City Masonic Hall on September 26, 1872. Fleming was the first Potentate. [Shriners of North America. "A Short History: Shriners of North America and Shriners Hospitals". September 2004 edition. p. 6.]
In 1875, there were only 43 Shriners in the organization. In an effort to spur membership, at the June 6, 1876 meeting of Mecca Temple, the Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America was created. Fleming was elected the first Imperial Potentate. After some other reworking, by 1878 there were 425 members in 13 temples in eight states, and by 1888, there were 7,210 members in 48 temples in the United States and Canada. By the Imperial Session held in Washington, D.C. in 1900, there were 55,000 members and 82 Temples. [Shriners of North America. "A Short History: Shriners of North America and Shriners Hospitals". September 2004 edition. p. 8.]
Shriners often participate in local
parades, sometimes as rather elaborate units: miniature vehicles in themes (all sports cars; all miniature 18-wheeler trucks; all fire engines, and so on), an "Oriental Band" dressed in cartoonish versions of Middle Eastern dress; pipe bands, drummers, motorcycle units, Drum and Bugle Corps, and even traditional brass bands.
Despite its theme, the Shrine is in no way connected to
Islam. It is a men's fraternity rather than a religion or religious group. Its only religious requirement is indirect: all Shriners must be Masons, and petitioners to Freemasonry must profess a belief in a Supreme Being. In order to further minimize any confusion with religion, the use of the word "Temple" to describe Shriners' buildings has now been replaced by the phrase "Shrine Center," although individual local chapters are still called "Temples."
Until 2000, before being eligible for membership in the Shrine, a person had to complete either the
Scottish Riteor York Ritedegrees of Masonry,cite news
title= Abd El Kader's Masonic Friends
The New York Times
page= 8] but now any Master Mason can join.
Some of the earliest Shrine Centers often chose a
Moorish Revivalstyle for their Temples. Architecturally notable Shriners Temples include the New York City Center, now used as a concert hall, and the Tripoli Shrine Templein Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
hriners Hospitals for Children
The Shrine's charitable arm is the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of twenty-two
hospitals in the United States, Mexicoand Canada. It was originally formed to treat young victims of polio, but as that disease was controlled, they broadened their scope. They now deal with all pediatric cases, most especially with orthopedic injuries and disease and burns. There is never any charge for treatment at a Shriners Hospital. There is no requirement for religion, race, or relationship to a Freemason. Patients must be under the age of eighteen and treatable.
In 2005, Shriners Hospitals approved 37,755 new patient applications, attended to the needs of 123,385 patients and provided 228,261 radiology procedures, 305,455 outpatient, outreach and telemedicine visits, 67,735 orthotic and prosthetic devices, 24,627 surgical procedures, and 227,857 occupational therapy treatments.
The Shriners are committed to community service and have been instrumental in countless public projects throughout their domain. They also host the annual
East-West Shrine Gamewhich is a college football all-star game.
Once a year, the fraternity meets for the Imperial Council Session in a major North American city. It is not uncommon for these conventions to have 20,000 participants or more, which generates significant revenue for the local economy.
Many Shrine Centers also hold a yearly
Shrine Circusas a fundraiser.
* [http://www.shrinershq.org/ Shriners of North America - Official Homepage]
* [http://www.shrinershq.org/Hospitals/Main/ Shriners Hospitals for Children - Official Homepage]
* [http://www.shrine-circus.com/ The Shrine Circus]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.