The most comprehensive and compelling book ever written about the secret society that shaped the modern world. Freemasonry, with its arcane rituals, occult symbols, and labyrinthine hierarchy, has mystifi ed the outside world for centuries. But it has become apparent that even the most senior Freemasons do not understand its ancient origins or purpose. So what is this powerful and arcane organization really for? In this eye-opening account, two seasoned researchers show that today’s Freemasons are the spiritual descendants of an ancient priesthood that was forced to act in secrecy. They predicted the birth of the coming Messiah, and Jesus Christ was part of their mission. Soon after the Crucifi xion they were nearly wiped out by a program of mass genocide conducted by the Romans; later, in feudal Europe, they grew to a position of unparalleled power before being branded as heretics and forced underground. But they could not be stopped, and they continued to work in subtle, sometimes subversive, always anonymous, ways to pursue their objective—a new world order that put God above, and yet out of, human affairs.