We, the deputies of the principal College of the Brethren of the Rose-cross, have taken up our abode, visible and invisible, in this city, by the grace of the Most High, towards whom are turned the hearts of the just. We show and teach without books or signs, and speak all sorts of languages in the countries where we dwell, to draw mankind, our fellows, from error and from death
— from the Paris Poster, which appeared mysteriously overnight around the city in March of 1623, and which sent the entire populace into a frenzy of speculation and excitement about the group's shadowy Purpose
Also known as The Invisibles, the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross were largely the inspiration for the Illuminati and one of history's secret societies par excellence, who took their name, according to the ascribed legend, from a German philosopher Christen Rosencreutz1 (who may or may not have existed) who, while travelling on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the last days of the 14th century (not a wise time for a white boy to be backpacking in the Middle East, given the Crusades had just started to wind down after five centuries), took ill at Damascus (in Syria) where he was restored by 'learn'd Arabs' who restored his health and revealed the Eastern mysteries to him. He returned to Germany, took his trusted friends into confidence about these secrets, and set themselves to the task of freeing the minds and bodies of the world. Whispers of their activites began to circulate in 1605 around German cities, next in London around 1615, then in 1623 they hit Paris with a poster campaign (odd behavior for the invisible).

Months after the first another followed: “If any one desires to see the brethren of the Rose-cross from curiosity only, he will never communicate with us. But if his will really induces him to inscribe his name in the register of our brotherhood, we, who can judge of the thoughts of all men, will convince him of the truth of our promises. For this reason we do not publish to the world the place of our abode. Thought alone, in unison with the sincere will of those who desire to know us, is sufficient to make us known to them, and them to us.”

Their rules of conduct, according to Robert Fludd's Apologia compendia Fraternitatem de Rosea-cruce suspicionis et infamine maculis aspersam abulens (London, 1616):
  • First. That, in their travels, they should gratuitously cure all diseases.
  • Secondly. That they should always dress in conformity to the fashion of the country in which they resided.
  • Thirdly. That they should, once every year, meet together in the place appointed by the fraternity, or send in writing an available excuse.
  • Fourthly. That every brother, whenever he felt inclined to die, should choose a person worthy to succeed him.
  • Fifthly. That the words “Rose-cross” should be the marks by which they should recognise each other.
  • Sixthly. That their fraternity should be kept secret for six times twenty years.
Jesuit priest Abbé Gautier wrote a book claiming they were simply 'drunken Lutherans' from Mainz conspiring in beer-halls 'under the rose' of German ale. Gabriel Naudé2 wrote another exposé, Avis a la France sur les Frères de la Rose-croix along the same lines, calling the group historical pranksters.
Numerous secret books from the Vanier Library, Concordia University-Loyola, Walton Hannah Masonic Collection3, Charles Mackay's Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (London, 1852) and the very helpful (if not exactly mysterious) Confraternity of the Rose Cross site: http://www.crcsite.org. Accessed: Jun. 13, 2002.

1. Historical conspiracy theorists believe this was also the inspiration for the Rosencrantz character from Hamlet, implying Shakespeare was somehow involved with these shady characters. Of course, Rosencrantz was also none too sharp, depsite his conspiring, and not really a terribly flattering role.
2. Naudé was also reponsible for the definitive study Apologie pour tous les grands personnages qui ont été faussement soupçonnez de Magic (Paris, 1625)
3. If you are genuinely interested in this or any other mystical order and live anywhere near Montreal, the collection at the Vanier Campus, in Notre-Dame de Grace (NDG) is well-worth the trip. Stop by 9-4: Mon-Fri. and simply ask at the reference desk for the special collections office. Or just check out: http://mercury.concordia.ca/search/j?SEARCH=walton+hannah) beforehand and pick out some titles. It is a closed collection though, meaning no borrowing is allowed, but some of the occult histories are exceedingly rare and in fantastic condition, especially the 18th c. pamphlets.

Ros`i*cru"cian (?), n. [The name is probably due to a German theologian, Johann Valentin Andrea, who in anonymous pamphlets called himself a knight of the Rose Cross (G. Rosenkreuz), using a seal with a St. Andrew's cross and four roses.)]

One who, in the 17th century and the early part of the 18th, claimed to belong to a secret society of philosophers deeply versed in the secrets of nature, -- the alleged society having existed, it was stated, several hundred years.

⇒ The Rosicrucians also called brothers of the Rosy Cross, Rosy-cross Knights, Rosy-cross philosophers, etc. Among other pretensions, they claimed to be able to transmute metals, to prolong life, to know what is passing in distant places, and to discover the most hidden things by the application of the Cabala and science of numbers.


© Webster 1913.

Ros`i*cru"cian (?), a.

Of or pertaining to the Rosicrucians, or their arts.


© Webster 1913.

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