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During the 19th Century, Italian immigrants arriving in England found work in hotels and restaurants, some of which had Masonic Temples. This led them to ask questions and to become interested in the Craft. Some became members of Rothesay Lodge No.1687, which sponsored a petition to the United Grand Lodge of England, for the Italian speaking Masons to start their own Lodge, and that, if permission was obtained from the UGLoE, the proceedings could be worked in Italian. This was accepted and the Warrant for Loggia Italia No. 2687, was issued on the 9th December 1897, with permission to conduct their proceedings in English and/or in Italian.
Loggia Italia was Consecrated on Tuesday 17th March 1898 at the Cecil Hotel in the Strand in London. No better day could have been chosen, as the 17th March is St. Patrick’s day and St. Patrick was the son of a Roman citizen, born in Britain who was abducted by an Irish chieftain and kept as a slave in Antrim. Escaping to Gaul he became a monk, and was trained by St. Martin at Tours, then to Rome, where Pope Celestine commissioned him and sent him as Apostle to Ireland.
The shield chosen to represent the Lodge has a rose in the lower corner to represent the rosettes on the Master Mason’s Badge, in the upper portion is a five pointed star representing the Five Points of Fellowship. On the bend, as it is termed in Heraldry, is a design of two hands clasped in friendship, with the flags of England and Italy on the wrist cuffs. The Lodge motto ‘Unity and Strength’ is prominent on the sash. In 1903, WBro.Major John.W.Woodall, Grand Treasurer of the United Grand Lodge of England and 16 members of the Italian, French and German speaking Lodges, met in London to discuss forming a Club with the idea of promoting peace in the world through the Brotherhood of Freemasonry They founded the International Masonic Club, with the declared object of uniting more closely the several different foreign speaking Lodges working in London under the English Constitution and to seek to contact Lodges abroad recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England so as an exchange of ideas and visits could be arranged.
The first meeting was held on 26 March 1904 at the Cafe Royal, Regent Street, London. As there is no international authority in Freemasonry, it was not a very suitable name to choose, but the Club prospered and by 1910 there were some 200 members who paid an annual subscription of half a guinea. Four Lodges were concerned in the foundation of the Club, the German speaking PILGRIM LODGE No.238, the French speaking LOGE LA FRANCE No.2060 and LOGE L’ENTENTE CORDIALE No.2796 and the Italian speaking LOGGIA ITALIA No.2687.
The Pilgrim Lodge was consecrated in England in 1779 under the name of “Der Pilger” and is the only Lodge, first under the ‘Moderns’ and then under the United Grand Lodge of England, to have the privilege to work in German, in the beginning using the Zinnendorf Ritual a Swedish System formed in 1766 by Johann Wilhelm von Zinnendorf (1731/82) the Grand Master of the German Lodge of the Three Globes in Berlin, and later, and to this day, in the Schröeder Ritual which was produced by Friedrich Ludwig Schröeder (1744-1816) an actor/producer of Hamburg.
The present Installation Ceremony is a direct translation from the English Emulation Ritual. Top hats are worn at the meetings by all the members of the Pilgrim Lodge, visitors wearing either hats provided or if they wish their own.
Loge La France was Consecrated in 1884. After the break with the Grand Orient of France in 1878, French Masons living in England found themselves in a difficult position and they petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new Lodge in London. The Warrant for this new Lodge - Loge La France No.2060 - was signed by the Grand Master the Prince of Wales, who was to become King Edward VII. A translation of the English Ritual by Bro. Henri Bué was presented and the work of the Lodge to this day is carried out in French. The other French speaking Lodge - L’Entente Cordiale No.2796 - was founded in 1899 and one of the originator was again the Grand Master the Prince of Wales also known as the ‘Peacemaker’ who in 1904 as King Edward VII contributed to the Entente Cordiale between England and France. Again, the Ritual of this Lodge is worked in French.
At a later date they were joined by two newly formed Lodges, DEUTSCHLAND LODGE No.3315 and AMERICA LODGE No.3368. Very little is recorded of the Deutschland Lodge except to say that it was Warranted in London in 1908 to work in German and surrendered its Warrant in 1955. America Lodge, Consecrated in 1909, was founded by members of the American Embassy and Consulate staff wishing to continue Masonic activities in England. In the early part of the century returning to the United States of America, for a Lodge meeting, was indeed a long and sometimes a perilous sea journey, flight was still a dream let alone Jumbo jets and Concorde, and so that they could regularly attend Masonic meetings, they got together to form a Lodge, bearing in mind that at that time different Rituals were being practise in the USA, some old Scottish some new Scottish some English and some of native birth, they decided to form a Lodge under the English Constitution, using the Emulation Ritual no doubt to please every member and to show no preference.
The first meeting of the International Masonic Club consisting of six Lodges, took place on 10 March 1910 and was attended by the Pro Grand Master, RWBro. Lord Ampthill and the Deputy Grand Master RWBro. Sir Fredrick Halsey and some 500 members and visitors, who afterwards dined at the Connaught Rooms. It was at this meeting that the name changed to Anglo-Foreign Lodges Association, better known as AFLA. In 1932 AFLA welcomed the Helvetica Lodge No.4894 Helvetica Lodge was founded by Swiss men living in England, London to be precise, and because of the four different tongues spoken in Switzerland; German, French, Italian and Romansch, English was adopted as its official language for its Emulation Ritual.
In 1943 the Anglo-Dutch Lodge No.5862 was welcomed into the Association. The Anglo-Dutch Lodge was consecrated in London at Freemasons’ Hal, in the midst of the Second World War, with Britain facing a continuing threat of destruction and Holland overrun by the invader, her Freemasonry outlawed and its property forfeited to the state and her Grand Master dead in a concentration camp. Hellenic Lodge No.7270, consecrated in 1953, was officially welcomed into the Association in 1968 and they were to be banner Lodge the following year - 1969 - where they gave a number of Addresses on the influence of Ancient Greece on Freemasonry.
The latest Lodge to join the Association is the Anglo-American Lodge No. 2191 The vision of unity and universal Brotherhood held by the founders, is still applicable today, that whilst insisting on a strict adherence to the tenets and landmarks of the Order, Grand Lodge allows a considerable freedom of working, as shown by the success of the Association.
I think that this history of the Anglo-Foreign Lodge Association should be dedicated to the memory of WBro. Major John Woodall, PGT, who first had the idea and courage to conceive the Association, with all his hard work and dedication Brother Woodall did not live to see the seeds grow, he was to die in 1905. In 1907, W. Bro W.Hammond, Librarian at United Grand Lodge of England, presented a sword, to Loggia Italia, belonging to the MW Bro. Giuseppe Garibaldi, Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy in 1864. This sword was worn by him at ceremonial meetings. It is now displayed during Italia Lodge Festive Boards. After a successful 10 years where, apart from the 30/35 founders members, Loggia Italia grew to 60 Members and so those very same members looking for new horizons and enlightenment joined Royal Arch Chapters of which one, Colombia Chapter 2397 was to have most Italian speaking Companions.
It was only a matter of time before the Italian Companions in London had the idea of forming an Italian Chapter of Royal Arch Masons where the Ritual could be performed in Italian. This was conceived about the beginning of 1910 and was supported by Loggia Italia and Colombia Chapter. This aspiration at once met with the approval of members of other Chapters who willingly and zealously helped to bring it to a successful issue
Capitolo Italia 2687 was Consecrated on the 9th January 1912 at the Café Monaco. An informal meeting took place at Freemasons’ Hall on 20th November 1964 between representatives of the United Grand Lodge of England and representatives of the Grand Orient of Italy, also attending this meeting were members of Loggia Italia acting as interpreters.
The meeting was to be the start of fraternal relation between the two Grand Lodges, which lasted until 1990 and some part in this event, was played by Loggia Italia. Loggia Italia is also very active socially with the highlight of the year being the Ladies Weekend in mid March and a white table meeting, on Installation meeting, where the Members wives and non Masons are invited.
Since the turn of the century, the Lodge has donated over £ 50,000 to Masonic and non-Masonic Charities. So, on our 119th Birthday we can count over 100 Worshipful Masters, 600 members and almost 10,000 visitors who have graced our meetings and festive boards, these years also record 115 years of good, honest Masonic work of which any Lodge can be proud. Loggia Italia has prospered and grown from its Consecration, in this year, 2017, the membership stands at 75 active members.