Freemasonry in Greece (1782-2003)

And the Greek War of Independence (1821-1828)

 By Andreas C. Rizopoulos

                In this paper I will attempt to cover a period of 220 years, not a very easy task. So the trip will be by necessity more of a glimpse than a journey and more of a series of headlines than a complete feature. Essentially the paper may be divided into three interrelated parts. The first covers the period between the establishment of Freemasonry in the area, which is now known as Greece, in 1782 and the liberation of the country in 1828. The second will cover the period between the establishment of the first Grand Lodge in Greece in 1872 until today and the third is in effect a sub-section of the first period.

                The first documented lodge to have been erected on Greek soil is considered to be Loggia Beneficenza (Benevolence) established in Corfu, the capital of the seven Ionian Islands, in 1782 under the authority of Grand Mother Lodge of Verona at Padova and ultimately under the National Directorate of Lyon of the French Scottish Reformed Rite. This lodge became very soon dormant when the Venetian Republic started persecuting Freemasonry. It was revived in 1797 when the French occupied the Ionians for a brief period and became again dormant when the islands were under Russian occupation, until 1806 when the French came to the Islands for the second time. Then it was revived and was united with lodge Filogenia, which was working in Corfu, under the new name Beneficenza-Filogenia Riunite, Filogenia meaning friendship of the nation (genus). Then in 1811 Count Dionyssios de Roma applied to the recently revived Grand Orient of France on 21 November 1811 to place this lodge under its aegis. Following the approval of the Grand Orient of France, Roma turned the lodge into a ‘Provincial Mother Lodge’ that is, a lodge with the authority to create new lodges in the area. Eventually after the beginning of the British Protection in 1815, Roma and the other Freemasons of the time, decided to declare the lodge as Serene Grand Orient of Greece. That was a very bold move if we are to consider that at the time there was no country existing under the name of ‘Greece’. It is noteworthy that after the launch of the War of Independence in 1821, Metternich, the influential Austrian Foreign Minister was stating that he knew of no country with the name of Greece because he could not find it on his maps.

                Roma took another bold initiative by approaching the Grand Master of the newly formed United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), Augustus Duke of Sussex, offering him the position of Grand Master of the new Grand Orient. It seems that Roma on the one hand was trying to obtain legitimacy of the new body and on the other hand to serve a political purpose. The kettle of the Revolution was already on the fire and at the same time the Islands were the only part of Greece that was beyond the reach of the Ottomans. While the mainland of Greece was still under the Ottoman yoke there were a number of lodges erected in Corfu, Zante, Cephalonie, Lefkas (Santa Maura) and Patras.

                During the years of the War of Independence (1821-1828) it seems that there was no Masonic activity as such in Greece. Greek Freemasons were active in the War and instrumental in its success, but that was not the time for regular Masonic activity. Following the liberation of Greece the Ionian Islands remained under the British Protection and Freemasons continued with their normal activities. At the same time in the mainland the first Governor Ioannis Capodistria, although a Freemason himself, proscribed all secret societies, including Freemasonry, in 1828 and it was not until the 1850s that Freemasonry was revived.

 

Establishment of the first Grand Lodge and of the Supreme Council 33°

 

Around 1855 seven lodges were working in mainland Greece under the Grand Orient of Italy, formed by Freemasons who have been initiated in Corfu, France and Italy. On 16 February 1867 the lodges that were working in Athens, Piraeus, Chalkis, Patras, Syros, Lamia and Argos, demanded their independence from the Grand Orient of Italy. This was given to them two months later and the newly formed Grand Orient of Greece started to get organized by drafting its Constitution. The existence of seven lodges does not infer that there was a large number of active members. At the same time the leading members of the lodges in Athens and those behind the application for independence, were persons highly placed in the society –university professors, military leaders, politicians etc.- and all of them with very strong personalities. So on the one hand there was not a big body from which to draw the leadership of the Grand Orient and on the other hand the leading personalities could not agree on the nomination of the first Grand Master. The founders of the new Grand Orient could only agree to appoint a Deputy Grand Master Pro tempore until they could find someone acceptable by all for this position.

                Among the founders was Mikes Rhodocanakis who at one stage, sometime in 1868, mentioned that a cousin of his was a very prominent prince living in England named Prince Demetrius Rhodocanakis. So they decided to contact him and offer him the position of Grand Master. All of them were assuming that a prince would most definitely be a Freemason. They were surprised to find out that Rhodocanakis first was not a Mason and second that he was not interested in their proposal. It is not clear what happened next but it seems that Rhodocanakis must have changed his mind and decided to accept the offer.

                Who was Rhodocanakis? Demetrius Rhodocanakis claimed that he was born on 3/15 December 1840 on the island of Chios, or Scio and called himself as ‘Prince’ and as such he is referred in almost all masonic references. However the records of the island of Syra (or Syros) prove that he was born there, according to the declaration of his father deposited at the Registry of Births on 19 February 1841 and as to the title of ‘prince’ there are no serious records supporting his claim. Rhodocanakis went to Manchester from Syra in 1860 and lived there until 1872 when he returned to Greece. He died in Hermoupolis, Syra in 1902.

                Rhodocanakis accepted the invitation of the Grand Orient of Greece and through his contacts approached the Grand Lodge of Scotland and on 18 October 1869 he was Initiated, Passed and Raised at St. Andrew Lodge No. 48 in Edinburgh. The next day he was exalted to the Royal Arch and on the 20th was installed to the Order of the Temple. Then on the 29 November he was advanced to the Royal Order of Scotland by the Grand Chapter of H.R.D.M.

                Rhodocanakis remained in England most of the next year and on 14 September 1871 departed for Greece where, after traveling through France and Italy, arrived in Athens on 20 October.During the following nine months he traveled throughout Greece visiting the various Lodges in order to smooth out all friction and to invite delegates to form a Convention for the election of a Council. On 10/22 July 1872 Rhodocanakis was elected Grand Master and two days later on 12/24 July he established a Supreme Grand Council 33° for Greece, with himself as Sovereign Grand Commander. Most of the members of the Council of the Grand Orient were also members of the Supreme Council.

                During the next forty years there was a slow growth of Freemasonry in Greece, spiced with a number of schisms caused by personality problems, but I need to bypass the details due to the time constrains. Most problems were resolved, though, around 1910 and from then onwards and until 1976 the two dominant bodies in Greece were the Grand Lodge of Greece and the Supreme Council of the 33°.

                The two bodies were working independently and they thrived. There were no other Orders in Greece and most of the members of Craft lodges felt that to join the Scottish Rite was a natural and expected step. The two bodies were jointly publishing a monthly masonic magazine and they were sharing the same building. As the numbers grew it was decided to obtain a permanent building and a property was jointly bought. The Grand Orient holding 80 per cent and the Supreme Council 20 per cent of the property. Then in 1928 the Grand Orient managed to be recognized as a Foundation, while the Supreme Council formed a private association under the Civil Law.

                There was no friction between the two bodies until 1976. The only change has been the change of the name of the governing authority of the Craft which initially in the 1930s was renamed Grand Orient/Grand Lodge of Greece and finally, after WWII, was named Grand Lodge of Greece.

                Then in 1976 several Greek Freemasons decided to import to Greece the degrees of the York Rite with the help and instigation of several Greek-origin Freemasons, members of the Rite, from Germany. Initially there seemed not to exist any problem. It is noteworthy that at the Consecration of the first Chapters there were present several members of the Supreme Council and the Council of the Grand Lodge. Problems came to surface when the leaders of this York Rite body requested recognition from the Grand Lodge. We are very close to the events and the ground is very delicate, so I can only assume that the Grand Lodge of Greece must have felt that there would be a new body that could not and would not be controlled by it. Also the Supreme Council must have felt the danger of losing the monopoly of the beyond the Craft progression.

                Both bodies proscribed the newcomer and threatened with expulsion their members who remained members there. This attitude and several other events eventually led to the establishment of the National Grand Lodge of Greece in 1986. Practically all the founders of this new body were regulars of the York Rite Chapters and other bodies. The leaders of the National Grand Lodge decided to follow strictly the British practice in their rituals and even the minutiae of their operation. So curiously they decided to abandon the York Rite and adopt the British Holy Royal Arch and the other beyond the Craft degrees (Mark, Royal Ark Mariner, Cryptic Degrees etc.) as practiced in England. The National embarked also on a concerted effort to obtain recognition initially from the UGLE and then from other foreign Grand Lodges.

                So we come to 1993 when UGLE threatened Grand Lodge of Greece with withdrawal of recognition mainly with three charges. First that the Grand Lodge was involved in politics, by allowing the discussion of the issue of Macedonia in masonic meetings, second that it had removed the necessity of the Oath from the Obligations and third that it was subservient to the Supreme Council. The presentation of the pros and cons on the first two accusations is beyond my scope, while the third led to historically interesting developments.

                The Grand Lodge of Greece in order to nullify the accusations concerning the Supreme Council took two very important decisions. First it amended its Constitution by removing all mentions of the Scottish Rite and the Constitutions of 1762 and 1786 changing its title to ‘Grand Lodge of Greece A.F.& A.M. Second it introduced the Holy Royal Arch into Greek Craft Freemasonry using the terminology of the United Grand Lodge of England, that is ‘Craft Freemasonry in Greece consists of the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason including the order of Royal Arch’.

                That seemed a very reasonable and wise move since the intention was to nullify all potential objections of the UGLE. There was a small ‘technicality’ though. The Royal Arch that was introduced and placed under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Greece was in reality the York Rite. The same Rite that was treated, at least, with suspicion and at most, with hostility, some years before. And to add an interesting note, the brethren who were invited to set up the first Chapters etc. were the ones who had been exalted at the York Rite bodies which were working since 1976 and had become half-dormant after the National Grand Lodge had decided that the York Rite did not quite fit with its grander plan

                At first the Supreme Council reportedly considered severing its relations with the Grand Lodge but very soon wiser and calmer thoughts prevailed. So since then there is a happy cohabitation in the same buildings throughout Greece of the Grand Lodge of Greece, the Supreme Council of Greece and the Supreme Grand Chapter which is semi-independent, since it is under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Greece and has practically the same leadership as the Grand Lodge of Greece.

                Despite protestations and changes, UGLE withdrew the recognition of the Grand Lodge of Greece in 1993 and gave it to the National Grand Lodge a year later. Then recognition was withdrawn from the National in 1999 in an effort of the UGLE to push the two Grand Lodges towards mutual recognition, stating that UGLE now considered them both to be regular. This approach did not work and in 2000 the recognition was restored to the Grand Lodge of Greece. Throughout this period, it must be noted, most of the Grand Lodges of other countries, including the USA and Australia, never withdrew their recognition of the Grand Lodge of Greece.

                At present we have in Greece the Grand Lodge of Greece, the Supreme Council 33°, and the Supreme Grand Chapter which are recognized by practically all Grand Lodges, Supreme Councils and Supreme Grand Chapters of the World, and the National Grand Lodge of Greece which at this writing is considered regular, but not recognized by the UGLE, and recognized by the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland and a couple of other countries.

                Throughout those 220 years that Freemasonry has been present in Greece its members have been very active participants in all aspects of the society. An now I come to an involvement not of Freemasonry as an entity but of individual Freemasons in the very sensitive ground of politics.

 

Freemasonry and the Greek War of Independence

 

Politics has been a taboo subject in Freemasonry since the publication of Anderson’s Constitutions. A very extensive bibliography exists explaining the reasons why it has been decided from the beginning to avoid all discussion on the subject. At the same time there was a sort of a loophole concerning the political actions of freemasons since in Charge II it states: “…So that if a Brother should be a Rebel against the State, he is not to be countenac’d in his Rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy Man; and, if not convicted of no other Crime, though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his Rebellion, and give no Umbrage or Ground of political Jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his Relation to it remains indefeasible.” The definition of politics and political actions has always been fluid depending on local circumstances. Even in very recent history we find that a person could be considered a ‘terrorist’ by some and ‘freedom fighter’ by others, depending on where each was standing. In continental Europe, the Americas and other parts of the world, at least during the 19th century, participation of individual Freemasons and even Grand Lodges in political activities, by whatever definition, was not considered to be beyond the principles of Freemasonry. During that period we find two approaches. In most cases Freemasonry, with its inherent confidentiality, if not secrecy, has been repeatedly used in order to assure maximum ‘security’ in revolutionary activities. There are also many cases when Masonic authorities, by whatever name, were seeing fit to take a stand in causes that they considered worthwhile. In addition we find a number of cases when even a State was ‘using’ Freemasonry for political purposes.

                The involvement of Freemasonry in revolutionary events has always been a very contentious subject. We know of the involvement of Freemasons in the American Revolution of 1776, the French Revolution of 1789, and various revolutions in Latin America and in Italy in the 19th century. Over-enthusiastic masons in many cases have claimed nothing less than the assertion that the success of these events was due to the masons involved have written many articles. On the other hand we find the opponents of Freemasonry who try to ignore the contribution of Masons, or to minimize the influence or at extreme cases, to castigate Freemasonry for its involvement in those events.

                It is true that the tenets of Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood and Justice are nurtured within Masonic lodges and are inherent to Freemasonry, but it is wrong to assume that Freemasonry, as an entity, has been instrumental in any of these events. Let us not forget that at those conflicts there were Freemasons on both sides at all times. We should definitely be proud of the patriotic actions of our brothers but we should just stop short of trying to obtain all credit for Freemasonry.

                The above introductory remarks have been necessary because I feel that, although I am presenting historical events of the first quarter of the 19th century, I am treading on very delicate ground. As late as 1967 the position of the United Grand Lodge of England on the subject was presented subtly but clearly. In the official publication GRAND LODGE 1717-1967 we read the following sentence on p. 214: ‘In the following century we know that the first seeds of Greek Liberation were sown in Masonic Lodges in the Ionian Islands.” This sentence is innocent enough until it is correlated with the index entry referring to it that reads: “masonry as shield for politics’.

                The Greek War of Independence was launched during the first quarter of 1821. The exact date which is celebrated every year in Greece as National Holiday is the 25 March. In 1828 the State of Greece was officially acknowledged, but it was not until almost a hundred years later that the country obtained its present borders and territories. The occupation of the country had started in 1453 when Constantinople (now known as Istanbul), the besieged capital city of Byzantium, fell to the Ottomans. In the following four centuries the Ottomans were controlling most of the areas of the present Greece with the exception of the Ionian Islands and parts of the Peloponnese. The former were initially under the control of the Venetians and afterwards of the French, the Russians and finally were placed under British protection between 1815 and 1864. The latter was partly occupied by the Franks.

                During the four hundred year period there have been a number of unsuccessful uprisings. Then in the early part of 1814 the ‘seeds’ of the War of Independence were indeed ‘sown’ in a Masonic lodge. One of the founders of ‘Philiki Hetairia’, or ‘Friendly Society’, Emmanuel Xanthos was initiated in a French lodge working in Santa Maura, or Lefkas, named L’ Union. Following his initiation, according to his memoirs, he thought that he could adapt the secrecy of Freemasonry in order to establish a revolutionary society, which would work towards the independence of his country.

                While Philiki Hetairia started ‘initiating’ its adepts, Roma, whom we met at the earlier on, and several other Freemasons in the Ionian Islands felt that they should be involved in the cause of liberation and that Freemasonry could be ‘used’ in order to protect the conspiracy activities. When the War was launched Roma and two other leading Freemasons set up what they called ‘Triprosopon’, that is a body consisting of three persons, which coordinated the collection of funds and ammunition that they sent from the Ionians to the mainland. Most of the Freemasons in the Ionians became members of the Hetairia and normal masonic activity was replaced with the War effort.

                The same elementary patriotic and freedom loving spirit was felt by European Freemasons who rushed to the support of the cause of the Greeks in many ways. A large number of Europeans who came to fight were Freemasons. It is reported by French diplomat and historian Pouqueville that many Ottomans were brandishing various medals and ‘masonic jewels’ which they have found on the dead following the battle at Peta (4 July 1822). Many of those who fought at this battle have been confirmed as Freemasons.

                Seventy freemasons, presumably French, also died at the battle of the Island of Psara in the Aegean according to the minutes of the Lodge Trinosophes of 30 August 1824. The Worshipful Master knocked once and then said among others: ‘Brethren the sorrow is not ending… Seventy of our brothers have been lost at once in the flames, the wrecks and the laurels. At which place, at which battlefields, you will ask. At Psara. Listen, at Psara. Should we mourn or sing paeans? Death for the country is the best and the most desired. Together brethren.’ And they give the mourning battery. Then the Master continues: ‘Let us cover the mourning battery. Let us stop mourning. Shadows of our brethren, dear and blood covered shadows there will be a day when barbarism will be deprived of its slaughterhouses and philosophy will disarm ignorance from its savagery… Together brethren! For Hope, Courage and the Glory of the world.’ Then they gave a battery of joy. As noted in the minutes, many of the brethren present were crying during the meeting.

                In February 1822 arrived in Greece on a boat from Marseilles the German General Count Karl von Norman leading some forty officers, including Germans, Swiss, Italians, French and one Dutch. Initially they were stationed at Navarino and then moved to Corinth. There Norman established a lodge named Brothers of Apollo. This is reported by the Prussian Captain Karl Schrebian who claims that ‘the masonic connection created a rapport between the Germans and the French who until then were in constant conflict due to various national prejudices’. The Prussian cavalry captain Eugen von Byern mentions in his memoirs that this lodge was meeting at the house of Norman who was elected Master, and it was registered under the Grand Orient of France. Unfortunately there are no records extant to corroborate the above information of the two books. Due to unknown reasons there are no records of the Grand Orient of France concerning lodges in Greece for the period 1815 to 1830.

                In the period between 1821 and 1828 there were hundreds of philhellenes who came to Greece to fight. Many were killed in battles and quite a few remained in the country after its liberation. Not all the names of those are known, but from those known a very large percentage have been documented as Freemasons.

                But in addition to the individuals who were either Freemasons before deciding to join the War, or were initiated before departing for the Greek shores, there is a unique case of Freemasons constituting a military expeditionary lodge to travel to Greece and fight for the independence of the country. There is nothing uncommon about military lodges and travelling lodges in the 18th and 19th centuries. But none, to my knowledge, was specifically and explicitly set up in order to participate in a war.

 

A unique French expeditionary lodge

 

It is a very happy occurrence that most of the papers of the French lodge Les Enfants Adoptifs de Sparte et d’Athènes have somehow survived despite the trials of this unique lodge. These papers are lodged in the Fonds Maçonnique of the National Library in Paris. In the file are included various letters to the Grand Orient, lists of founder members and members who either joined later or were initiated, lists of those who died at various battles and minutes of meetings held either at Marseilles or in Greece covering the period between 2 January 1826 and 4 January 1827.

                Most of the founder members were belonging to three Marseilles lodges. Les Amis Fidéles de St. Louis, Les Élèves de Minerve and Les Amis de l’Aimable Sagesse. Of the eighteen founder members one was German, one Polish and one Italian and the rest French. With the exception of the 18th who was described as ‘representative at the Grand Orient’, all others stated their address as ‘en route to Greece’. The records include also eight Honorary Members, two from the United Kingdom and one from Italy and the rest French. According to records extant there were at least 27 more members who either joined the lodge or were initiated either in Marseilles or in Greece and there also exists a list of twelve members who died in battle. Of the total of 54 members of the lodge, 48 were officers, three NCOs and three civilians. There were 32 French, 13 Italians, three Swiss, three Greeks and one each German, Dane and Pole. Many were Past Masters or Past Officers of Lodges.

                On 2 January 1826 the first meeting of the proposed lodge was held at the Masonic hall of Marseilles. On the first page of the minutes it is declared that the new lodge is constituted provisionally at the Orient of Marseilles until the permanent constitution in the Orient of Greece. The names of the founders present are listed, their diplomas were inspected and the provisional Worshipful Master Justin announced the names of the provisional officers of the Lodge. The name of the lodge was accepted by acclamation and the aims of the new lodge were described by the Orator. The seal of the lodge was presented. On the seal were two columns, a five pointed star, an equilateral triangle, square and compasses and a coffin with the name Leonidas (the leader at the Battle of Thermopylae). Following a fervent talk by the Orator the members decided to adjourn and meet again the next day.

                The next day they held their second meeting and without waiting for the approval of their application by the Grand Orient they proceeded to the election of the officers. Then the following day (4 January) the officers took their obligation and were installed. The closing of the minutes of this meeting provide a dramatic color to the story:

Full midnight. The works are closed with triple acclamation and brethren withdrew in brotherly friendship thanking the Great Architect of the Universe for His favors and requesting their continuation in order to be preserved from the dangers that many members of this lodge will be exposed in for the Holy Cause which they will embrace for the greater glory of the Great Architect of the Universe.

                During this third meeting Claude Etienne Colin, an army officer aged 28, was initiated. In view of the emergency circumstances it was decided to be Passed in the same meeting. According to the minutes for the fourth meeting (5 January) they agreed on the initiation and joining fees. The next three meetings were held on the 9, 13 and 17 January and were ‘family’ meetings, that is without visitors. It is evident that during these meetings they discussed the developments concerning the expedition to Greece and so nothing appeared in the minutes. The meeting on the 17th was the last recorded in Marseilles. The next few weeks, or months, were spent in the final preparations for the big adventure, if we may call it thus.

                There is no information on their exact date of departure from Marseilles for Greece. They could have left at any time between 18 of January and August since at their first recorded meeting held in Greece a mention was made of the members of the lodge who had been killed at battles held in various locations in Greece during September and October. During this period the departure of seven ships from Marseille is recorded. Taking into consideration the police reports on the various ships it seems most probable that they traveled onboard Nouvelle-Adeline, which departed on the 21st January with 24 passengers and ammunition.

                The first recorded meeting of the lodge on Greek soil was held on 25 November 1826 at Methana (or Tacticopolis), near the present day Nauplion or Napoli di Romania, as it was known then. A mourning battery was given to the memory of those who had died in previous battles. The Senior Warden Gaston Rivel was killed at Syros in September, The Sword Bearer Pierre Rousset also died at Syros in October and the Junior Deacon Louis Florence died at Oropos in September. At the same meeting there were fifteen applications to join the lodge. Three were Italians, one Greek (assuming from his name but with no indication of his mother lodge) and the rest French. There were two additional applications to join, but since the applicants although ‘responded correctly to the Masonic signs’ they did not possess their respective diplomas or certificates, the decision was postponed until the next meeting.

                The second meeting in Greece was on 30 November and it was a ‘family’ meeting, without visitors. The two applicants for joining, Bann and Lebon, were admitted blindfolded and were asked several questions since they did not possess their certificates. The final voting was postponed until the next meeting to be held on 9 December. At that meeting the two applicants were ‘tested’ and they were approved as joining members. At the same meeting the lodge discussed and rejected the application for initiation of an officer named Maury because of negative reports concerning his character. This incident stresses the point that despite the irregular circumstances they were very strict on prospective candidates.

                Two days later the members of the lodge, together with other volunteers, left the area for Athens where they were due to break the siege of the Acropolis and provide the besieged with food and ammunition. On top of the Acropolis there were some 1630 persons. There were about 1150 regular and irregular soldiers and about 500 women and children. Food was becoming scarce and ammunition was almost finished. It was deemed that the Acropolis should not fall to the Ottomans mainly due to the psychological impact that it would have not only to the morale of the people but also to the attitude of foreign powers on the Greek struggle.

            So it was decided that French Colonel Fabvier should lead a sort of commando force to try and get to the besieged all the necessary supplies. The special force was to consist of 450 regular soldiers, 60 from the artillery and 40 volunteers. The majority of the volunteers were members of Les Enfants Adoptifs de Sparte et d’Athènes. The operation was launched at midnight on the 11th to the 12th of December and was successfully completed. They managed to get on top the Acropolis with only 18 dead and 26 wounded, although one of the wounded died a week later. Five of the dead were members of the lodge and they were buried on the Acropolis.

                When Fabvier accepted the task to re-supply the besieged he had stated that afterwards the force should retire from the rock in order to participate in other military operations. He pointed out that they were enough soldiers on the Acropolis to be able to defend it and the only useful purpose for the force was to supply the besieged and not to become ‘voluntary besieged’. The garrison on the Acropolis, though, wanted him to stay and they even threatened to warn the besiegers if Fabvier and his troops tried to leave. Fabvier tried a couple of times to depart but it was practically impossible with Acropolis surrounded by the enemy troops. So Fabvier and his troops were forced to remain on the Acropolis until 24 May 1827 when a treaty was signed and all the defenders were allowed to depart.

                During this six-month period the members of the lodge were forced to remain on the Acropolis and despite the extreme conditions they held at least two meetings. The first meeting was held on 2 January 1827. According to the minutes the Secretary read the list of members and it was established that all were present with the exception of those who were wounded and those who being sick could not participate in the glorious entrance into the Acropolis. Then the WM Justin requested the members to give a mourning battery for the dead. Then the WM read a pièce d’architecture fitting to the circumstances, which was applauded by all members. The lodge then decided to organize a St. John’s feast (winter solstice) on the 4th. The minutes for 4 January start with the regular opening and then a ‘report’ is announced. They were two ‘profanes’ asking to be initiated. After their identity was ascertained the ‘frére terrible’ (equivalent to Senior Deacon) was ordered to take them into the chamber of contemplation. Then they entered blindfolded into the lodge and were initiated according to the ritual. The lodge was then adjourned from labor to refreshment in order to have a festive board and celebrate the winter solstice. According to the minutes there were three toasts: The first for the Greek Government, the second for the Grand Orient of France, and the third for the Worshipful Master and the officers of the lodge. During the toast for the Grand Orient there were three ‘fires’: One on the duty and respect for the Grand Orient, second on the gratitude for all regular lodges which had initiated them and the third on the friendship among all Freemasons.

                The minutes for this meeting are the last surviving. There could have been more and they couldn’t. Circumstances were very difficult during the siege and it is probable that after their departure from the Acropolis they could have been dispersed to different battalions, or some even might have returned home. It is also possible that there were additional meetings and minutes but somehow they have been lost. Still the concept of this lodge and the fact that, despite the hardships, they strived to be working according to the rules and the traditions of Freemasonry are remarkable enough.

                As a footnote we know that at least six members of the lodge remained in Greece and died after the war. Among those was the Master Justin who was appointed Port Manager of Methana by the first Governor of Greece Capodistria in 1828 and died at Argos two years later from malaria.

                I have just presented, as briefly as possible, some aspects of the involvement of Freemasons in the War of Independence of Greece. In order to do justice to the subject a full length book should be written. As a matter of fact I have had such a book written and published in Greek together with my late father Christos Rizopoulos. But still I hope that all that I could squeeze within the allowable time might have given you some food for thought. I must end by pointing out that American freemasons have also supported the War of Independence, but that is another story, which I might be able to provide you another time.

               

 

 

         

Museum Home Page     Phoenixmasonry Home Page

Copyrighted © 1999 - 2013   Phoenixmasonry, Inc.      The Fine Print