On Saturday 10th June I visited the Connaught Club lodge (Burgoyne Lodge No. 902) and it just so happened that the Brother who sat by my side on the Festive Board was a member of Loggia Italia No. 2687. From him, I learned about the 2017 Anglo Foreign Lodges Association re-union to be held only 6 days later. As I rushed to book it in, I knew I was set for a treat.
The member lodges in the association take turns in hosting the biennial event. This year’s host, or banner Lodge, was Loggia Italia No. 2687. The lodge itself practices a version of the Emulation Ritual in Italian. For the re-union, however, they invited Loggia Andrew MacBride No. 237 under the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, the only Grand Lodge in Italy recognized by UGLE. The officers of the lodge came all the way from Rome especially for this event. This might actually be no surprise for those familiar with Loggia Italia as in fact many of its members live in Italy and travel to London for the lodge meetings. Amongst those present, we also counted the illustrious presence of the Grand Master of Italy, MW. Bro. Fabio Venzi.
The Andrew MacBride Lodge has Scottish origins, as was immediately made clear from the tartan in the collars and aprons of its officers, and follows the MacBride ritual. There are only just five lodges in the world which perform this specific ritual: three in Scotland, this one in Italy and one in Singapore. This lodge is, of course, the only one in the world to do so in Italian.
The meeting took place in the Grand Temple at the Freemasons’ Hall. I had been in the temple a few times taking part in the tour, but this was the first time I saw it in use. As the temple seemed somewhat empty, I was surprised to learn at the Festive Board that there had been around three hundred Masons in attendance. Thinking about it and knowing that the temple sits over 1500 people, that, of course, makes perfect sense.
Upon arrival, we were provided with very well printed A4 sized summons and a ritual book containing the MacBride version of the first degree ceremony as we were about to experience in Italian as well as the English version.
Loggia Italia opened the ceremony, called off and then the officers of the Andrew MacBride lodge came in to do their thing. This is where I have the desire to write the most, but doing so might spoil the fun for people who are not in the craft if they decide to join. I will just say that I was so impressed that I’m now tempted to order the MacBride ritual book from the Grand Lodge of Scotland online shop. Quoting the words of RW. Bro. Stephen Fenton PJGW Deputy MetGM and Patron of AFLA (which hopefully I have kept good memory of): “this was the deepest, most thorough and with most people involved first degree I’ve ever seen” – and we can only imagine how many variations of the first degree the man has seen in his time !
After the presentation, the officers of Loggia Italia assumed their positions again and called on the meeting. After closing, a host of visitors were welcomed into the Grand Temple where the curator of the Museum described the main features of the temple.
The meeting was followed by a white table Festive Board at the Grand Connaught Rooms. I had seen the rooms before, but this one was clearly where the “Grand” part comes from. Although I was a bit disappointed to find that the menu wasn’t exactly “il mangiare della nonna”, I found myself on a table where everyone was Italian and the Italian conviviality never disappoints!