Shriners belong to a brotherhood of men…dedicated to fun and fellowship…but with a serious purpose - that of supporting what has become known as the “World’s Greatest Philanthropy,” the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children composed of 18 orthopaedic hospitals, three burn hospitals and one hospital that provides orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care. Since the first Shriners Hospital opened in 1922, these hospitals have cured or substantially helped more than 600,000 children - all at no cost to the parent or child. Shriners are members of the Masonic Fraternity and adhere to the principles of Freemasonry - a belief in a Supreme Being, of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
The Beginning In 1870, several thousand of the 900,000 residents of Manhattan were Masons. Many of these Masons made it a point to lunch at the Knickerbockers Cottage, a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual. These men took their ideas and converted them into what would become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.) While there is some question about the origin of the Fraternity’s name, it is probably more than a coincidence that its initials, rearranged, spell out the words “A Mason.” In 1872 thirteen Masons organized the first Shrine Temple - Mecca Temple in New York City. They knew they needed an appealing theme for their new Order, so they chose the Arabic (near East) theme. The most noticeable symbol of Shrinedom is the distinctive red fez that all Shriners wear at official functions. Today there are approximately 500,000 Shriners who belong to 191 Temples, or chapters, throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Republic of Panama.
The Emblem The Crescent was adopted as the Jewel of the Order. Although any materials can be used in forming the crescent, the most valuable are the claws of a Royal Bengal Tiger, unified at their base in a gold setting. In the center is the head of a sphinx, and on the back are a pyramid, an urn and a star. Today the Shrine emblem includes a scimitar from which means the crescent hangs, and a five pointed star beneath the head of the sphinx.
The Fez The red fez with the black tassel, the Shrine’s official headgear, has been handed down through the ages. It derives its name from the place where it was first manufactured - the holy city of Fez, Morocco. The fez was chosen as part of the Shrine’s Arabic (Near-Eastern) theme, around which the color and pageantry of the Shrine are developed.
Shriners Creed Shriners believe in God and that He created man to serve His purposes, among which is service to others in His name. We believe that care for the less fortunate, especially children who suffer from burns and crippling diseases, is our institutional calling. We are patriots, each willing to serve his country with fidelity and courage. We cherish independence under law and freedom with responsibility. We honor family. We respect our parents, wives and children. We should instill in our children the tenets of this creed and the heritage from which it emanates. As individuals we pledge ourselves to integrity, virtue and nobility of character. Our intentions will be honorable, our relations will be trustworthy and our spirits forgiving of each other. As brothers we offer each other fraternal affection and respect. Together we will support each other in adherence to this creed, so that we and our communities will be the better because of our fraternity and its principles. As Shriners we look beyond ourselves to serve the needs of others, especially children who cannot help themselves. We believe Shriners Hospitals for Children to be the world’s greatest philanthropy, and we covenant with each other to support its “temples of mercy” with spirit, time, talent and means.