The Senior Deacon
From About Freemasons
Since lodge business is usually quite formal and ritualized or stylized, new members and even ideas are introduced formally. For this reason, every lodge needs a Senior Deacon, who acts as a messenger for the Master. In fact, the Senior Deacon sits just to the right of The Worshipful Master, a very important position.
The Senior Deacon welcomes visitors and candidates and formally presents them to the master. He escorts the visitors into the lodge when requested to do so by the Master. This office, unlike most others, requires a lot of walking, as the Senior Deacon will usually meet visitors and candidates at the door of the lodge and walk them to the Master and then walk them back to their correct places or back to the door. The Senior Deacon is in fact a messenger with many duties. In many lodges, he is responsible for the Bible, the ballot box, the candles, and new candidates who are attaining their degrees.
The Senior Deacon carries a staff in lodges, just like The Junior Deacon. The staff is symbolic of the wand carried by the Roman god Mercury. Mercury was the gods’ messenger in Roman myth, so this symbol is very apt for the Deacon. The Deacons’ rods are topped by the jewel of the office and the Deacons also carry the jewels of office around their necks. The jewel of office for the Senior Deacon is the square and compass, with the symbol of the sun in the center. The sun represents that the Senior Deacon belongs in the east, close to the Master. The square and compass are the classic symbols of Freemasonry. In other countries, the jewel of office for the Senior Deacon are doves (with or without an olive branch) or the figure of Mercury.
The Senior Deacon has several duties:
1) Taking care of visitors. If there is a visitor to the lodge, the Senior Deacon will welcome the visitor and prepare him for the visit. The Senior Deacon will meet the visitor at the door of the lodge and escort the visitor in and present him to The Worshipful Master.
2) Taking care of candidates. During degree rituals, it is the duty of the Senior Deacon to help new candidates. He escorts new candidates into the lodge, conducts the candidates around the room as the candidate takes part in the degree conferring rituals, and escorts the candidates to The Worshipful Master for the conferring of the degree.
3) Taking care of the Bible. During the closing and opening ceremonies of every lodge, the Senior Deacon is charged with opening and closing the Bible, which is opened each time a lodge is in meeting.
4) Taking care of candles. The Senior Deacon extinguishes the candles at the altar at the end of lodges and lights them during the opening ceremonies.
5) Taking care of the ballot box. The Senior Deacon is usually in charge of protecting and securing the ballot box when a vote takes place. For example, when new members are voted on, the Senior Deacon may take charge of the ballot box. The Senior Deacon also is the member who usually takes the ballot box from member to member so that each Mason may cast his vote. In some lodges, this ballot box duty is overseen by someone else, but traditionally this is the purview of the Senior Deacon.