Anglo Foreign Lodges Reunion, 2017

by Frederico Pessoa, J.W.

On Saturday, 10th June, I visited the Connaught Club’s 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 of the Anglo Foreign Lodges Association’s 2017 reunion, which was to be held only six days later. I rushed to book in, and 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, which practices a version of the Emulation Ritual in Italian. For the reunion, however, they invited Loggia Andrew MacBride, No. 237, under the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, the only Grand Lodge in Italy recognized by the United Grand Lodge of England. The officers of the Lodge came all the way from Rome, especially for this event. This might be no surprise for those familiar with Loggia Italia, as many of its members live in Italy and travel to London for the Lodge meetings. Amongst those attending, we counted the illustrious presence of the Grand Master of Italy, M. W. 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. It is among only five Lodges in the world which perform the MacBride Ritual: three in Scotland, this one in Italy, and another in Singapore. This Lodge is, of course, the only one 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 during tours, but this was the first time I had seen 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 1,500 people, that makes perfect sense.

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Upon arrival, we were provided with well-printed, A4-sized Summons, and a Ritual Book containing the MacBride version of the First Degree Ceremony, as we were about to experience it in Italian as well as in English.

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 would spoil the fun for those not yet in the Craft. 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’s online shop. Quoting (from memory) the words of R. W. Bro. Stephen Fenton, P.J.G.W., Deputy Met.G.M., and Patron of A.F.L.A.: “this was the deepest, most thorough, and with most people involved First Degree I’ve ever seen” – and one 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 resumed their positions, and called on. After closing, a host of visitors were welcomed into the Grand Temple where the Curator of the Museum of Freemasonry described the main features of the Temple.

The Meeting was followed by a 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 might have been deflated that the menu wasn’t exactly “il mangiare della nonna”, I found myself on a table of Italians, and Italian conviviality never disappoints!