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Ancient Arabic Order

of the Mystic Shrine

Noble Marcus Herring 33rd

Illustrious Potentate

The Shriners are an International fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. Before a man can become a Shriner, he must become a Mason. In fact, if you look carefully at the full name — Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine — you can rearrange the letters  A.A.O.N.M.S.  and spell “A MASON.” All Shriners are Masons, but not all Masons become Shriners. The Shrine is not just a men's fraternity, there is an organization tied to the Shrine just for women: The Daughters of the Sphinx.

The Evolution Of The “World’s Greatest Fraternity”

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 Knickerbocker Cottage, a restaurant at 426 Sixth Avenue. At a special table on the second floor, a particularly jovial group of men used to meet regularly.

The Masons who gathered at this table were noted for their good humor and wit. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons, in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual. Two of the table regulars, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. Florence, an actor, took the idea seriously enough to do something about it.

Billy Florence was a star. After becoming the toast of the New York stage, he toured London, Europe and Middle Eastern countries, always playing to capacity audiences. While on tour in Marseilles, France, Florence 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.

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