Rosicrucians, the name of a secret society first known in the 17th century. In Chy-mische Hochzeit Christiani Rosenkreuz (1816), ascribed to J. V. Andreae, there is a story of a certain Christian Rosenkreuz, a German noble of the 14th century, who had spent a large portion of his life in the East in the pursuit of wisdom. After returning to Germany he established a secret society, consisting of but few members, which met in a building erected by himself and called Domus Sancti Spiritus, where he died at the age of 106, after ordering the following words to be inscribed upon one of the doors of the edifice: Post CXX annos patebo. The spot where he was buried was kept secret, and new members were silently admitted from time to time to keep up the numbers of the society. In the " Revelation of the Fraternity of the Holy Cross to the Learned of Europe," a declaration was made that the order had no intention of interfering. with the religious or political action of states, but only desired the improvement of mankind by the discovery of the true philosophy; and that meetings were held once a year to admit new members, and to deliberate upon secret matters.
Whether such a fraternity ever existed, except in the brain of the author of the above mentioned works, is an open question; but the impression that it existed gave rise to fraternities that spread over Europe, and the term Rosicrucian came to be applied to all kinds of occult skill. The fraternity had not been heard of for a long period, when in the latter half of the 18th century interest in them was revived, especially by Cagliostro, who pretended that he was a Rosicrucian. - See J. G. Buhle's Ueber den Ursprung und die ver-nehmsten Schicksale der Orden der Rosen-kreuzer und Freimaurer (Göttingen, 1804).