The name of a very important Degree in many of the Masonic Rites. The word is Hebrew, and signifies holy or consecrated, and is thus intended to denote the elevated character of the Degree and the sublimity of the truths which distinguish it and its possessors from the other Degrees. Pluche says that in the East, a person preferred to honors bore a scepter, and sometimes a plate of gold on the forehead, called a Kadosh, to apprise the people that the bearer of this mark or rod was a public person, who possessed the privilege of entering into hostile camps without the fear of losing his personal liberty.
The Degree of Kadosh, though found in many of the Rites and in various countries, seems, in all of them, to have been more or less connected with the Knights Templar. In some of the Rites it was placed at the head of the list, and was then dignified as the ne plus ultra, nothing further, of Freemasonry.
It was sometimes given as a separate order or Rite within itself, and then it was divided into the three Degrees of Illustrious Knight of the Temple, Knight of the Black Eagle, and Grand Elect.
Brother Oliver enumerates five Degrees of Kadosh: the Knight Kadosh; Kadosh of the Chapter of Clermont; Philosophical Kadosh; Kadosh Prince of Death; and Kadosh of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
The French records speak of seven: Kadosh of the Hebrews; Kadosh of the first Christians; Kadosh of the Crusades; Kadosh of the Templars; Kadosh of Cromwell or the Puritans; Kadosh of the Jesuits; and the True Kadosh. But the correctness of this enumeration is doubtful, for it cannot be sustained by documentary evidence. In all ofthese Kadoshes the doctrine and the modes of recognition are substantially the same, though in most of them the ceremonies of initiation differ.
Ragon mentions a Kadosh which is said to have been established at Jerusalem in 1118; but here he undoubtedly refers to the Order of Knights Templar. He gives also in his Tuileur Géneral the nomenclature of no less than fourteen Kadosh Degrees.
The doctrine of the Kadosh system is that the persecutions of the Knights Templar by Philip the Fair of France, and Pope Clement V, however cruel and wunary in its Renaults, did not extinguish the Order, but it continued to exist under the forms of Freemasonry. That the ancient Templars are the modern Kadoshes, and that the Builder at the Temple of Solomon is now replaced by James de Molay, the martyred Grand Master of the Templars, the assassins being represented by the King of France, the Pope, and Naffodei the informer against the Order; or, it is sometimes said, by the three informers, Squin de Florian, Naffodei, and the Prior of Montfauçon. As to the history of the Kadosh Degree, it is said to have been first invented at Lyons, in France, in 1743, where it appeared under the name of the Petit Elu, Minor Elect, as distinguished from Grand Elect. This Degree, which is said to have been based upon the Templar doctrine heretofore referred to, was afterward developed into the Kadosh, which we find in 1758, incorporated as the Grand Elect Kadosh into the system of the Council of Emperors of the East and West, which was that year formed at Parish whence it descended to the Scottish Rite Freemasons. Of all the Kadoshes, two only are now important, namely, the Philosophic Kadosh, which has been adopted by the Grand Orient of France, and the Knight Kadosh, which constitutes the Thirtieth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, this latter being the most generally diffused of the Kadoshes.