By Ioannis A. Souvaliotis
P. Grand Secretary (1998 - 2001)
In 1993, the Grand Lodge of Greece (G.L.G.) was erroneously accused of
indulging in politics. Like the accusations directed previously against
it and being refuted, the politics one was refuted as well.
Nevertheless, the researcher or the historian of Greek Freemasonry is
bound to find out that Freemasons played a major role in national and political
issues. From the preparation of Greece's liberation from the Turkish yoke right up to the second world war, the National struggles walked hand in hand with the achievements of the
"Sons of Light". We expect that the team of historians who are
conducting a research presently in a professional manner, will shed light on these glorious times, glorious for our Country as well as for the Craft.
At this time, suffice it to say that the founders of the "Philiki Etairia" (Friendly Society), many of the war lords with Brother Theodore Colocotronis in the forefront, all bear the mark of
Freemasonry. The words of Theodore Colocotronis, namesake and grandson
of the warlord, in the preface of his book on the Friendly Society titled
"High Priests of the Elefsinians" say it all:
"Blessed be the Masonic Lodges which baptized you in the baptismal font
of Liberty" - Indeed, the inspired founders of the "Philiki Etairia", had
been nursed with the milk of Freedom by their Mother Lodges. Their memory will remain sacred to all Hellenes.
After the tragic fall of Constantinople in 1453, and throughout the dark period of foreign occupation, prominent Greeks of the Diaspora, organized schools and societies, attracting a considerable number of Philellenes, with the idea of liberating Greece.
During the 18th century, a number of quasi-Masonic institutions existed
throughout Europe, with that aim, till the creation of the "Philiki Etairia" in Odessa, in 1814, which prepared and organized the revolution
of 1821. The "Philiki Etairia" was initially created by three Masons and
subsequently joined by many others. Meanwhile, in 1811, a prominent
Mason, Dionyssios Romas, assisted by the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of
Masons of England, founded the "Serene Grand Orient of Greece" (S.G.O.G.) (Grand Lodge) in the Orient of Corfu, one of the Ionian islands, which had not been occupied
by the Turks. The cataclysmic events which followed, events that
culminated in the liberation of Greece, naturally brought many changes
to the society in general and to the Masonic movement in particular. A
number of Lodges were created in the Ionian islands as well as on the
mainland and although the "Serene Grand Orient" disbanded in 1843, its creation has been and is being considered as the origin of the official
Greek Freemasonry and Dionyssios Romas as the first Grand Master of
Masons in Greece. For a number of years, various Lodges were created in
Greece and specifically in Athens, Piraeus, Chalkis, Corfu, Patras,
Syros, Lamia and Argos. Since there was no central Masonic Authority in
Greece at that time, these Lodges had been created under the Grand Orient
of Italy. In 1864 these Lodges asked that Grand Orient, for a dispensation of an independent Masonic Authority in their own Country. The Grand
Orient authorized them to institute a Masonic directorate which was
indeed created in 1864. Prominent members of the Government and of the
scholar community became members of this directorate.
After considerable exchange of correspondence between the
directorate and the Grand Orient of Italy, the latter, granted
dispensation and recognized as regular, the "Serene Grand Orient (Grand Lodge) of Greece" (S.G.O.G.).
Masonry in Greece, existed in parallel with the young Greek State
and shared the joys of its evolution as well as the hardships of the
turbulent years that followed. Prominent Masons, individually, as true
"Sons of light", were involved in the field of education, but also in the struggle for the liberation of other Greek territories. A number of them fell in those noble causes.
A milestone in Greek Masonry is December 2 1927 when the S.G.O.G., by Presidential Decree, was recognized as a Foundation, its aims being philosophical and philanthropic. This status is a justification of the aims of Freemasonry, a prominent one being a
relentless struggle against illiteracy, by the institution and sponsoring
of schools, especially schools for working youths. In spite of its
official recognition by the State, Freemasonry was at times the target
of attacks by some Church circles as well as by individual Press ones. The
effect of such attacks was mostly felt by Lodges in small communities.
But the Masonic movement withstood these attacks and Masonry kept
growing. In 1930, after considerable efforts, financial sacrifices by its
members and a contribution by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite,
Masonry had its Masonic Hall in Athens, owned by 80 per cent by the Grand Lodge of Greece (G.L.G.) and by 20 per cent by the Supreme Council. Those
beautiful premises were very adequate at that time. At about the same
time, the city of Piraeus obtained its Masonic Hall while provincial
Lodges were gradually being settled in proper housing.
As the 30s decade was drawing towards its end, the clouds of war
were gathering over Europe and when the war came for Greece, many Greek
Masons participated actively in the epic struggle on the Northern Epirus
mountains, while the Lodges in the cities were helping in any way they
could, mainly by sending parcels of woolen clothing to help the troops
to face the hard wintery conditions. At the Nation's helm at the time, were
two Masons: The King and the Prime Minister. Greece was then fighting for
its independence and its freedom. It gave the Free World its first
victory since the rest of Europe had fallen to the Nazi divisions and
England stood alone awaiting a possible invasion of the British Isles.
Within 21 days since their invasion, the Germans reached Athens and one of their first actions was to go to the Masonic Hall, confiscate whatever records were left there and inflict serious damage to the property. This was the fate of the other Masonic properties throughout the Country as well. Then they proceeded to the residence of the then Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Philotas Papageorgiou and placed him under arrest. He was taken to prison where he was kept under very harsh conditions, which caused irrevocable damage to his health and although he was released some seven months later, he never recovered and died in 1947.
After the war, the G.L.G. embarked on the difficult task of reconstruction and recovery and it must be noted here that considerable help came from Lodges abroad mainly from U.S.A. Soon, the Masonic Hall of Athens was restored to its previous splendor and the harmonious sound of the gavels echoed in all the Lodge rooms. Impressive charity work was undertaken again, the most prominent activities being the sponsoring of schools for working youths and the
"Hellenic Anti-Cancer Society" that provides continuously since 1959 shelter and relief to victims of that illness.
As travel was becoming more accessible to all social strata,
communication with other Masonic Powers was on the increase and
intervisitations became more frequent. An English speaking Lodge
"Parthenon" # 112 was created, which took care of the Masonic needs of
a number of foreign visitors and residents in this country. By the early
60s it had become evident that the Athens Masonic Hall was not adequate,
among the various solutions proposed, the demolition of the existing
premises and the erection of new and more spacious ones in its place was
chosen. This called for considerable expenses, which were undertaken by
the members and in May 1965 the demolition started. By April 1967, the
new and splendid building was ready and housed the Athens Lodges again.
Three more foreign language Lodges were consecrated in the city
of Athens, "Apollo" # 98 in German, "La Tradition Francaise" # 125 in
French, and "Giuseppe Garibaldi" #130 in Italian.
Craft Masonry in Athens, Piraeus and at the provinces kept
growing, Lodges were flourishing and the number of Brethren increased
steadily. Among the new Lodges that were created, there was one in the
historical city of Elefsis, another one in Corinth, which for the time
being meets in Athens and another in the suburb of Glyfada, thus marking
the decentralization concept of the Athens metropolitan area.
The obediency of the G.L.G. includes eight Lodges in the Republic of Cyprus which operate in the main cities of the island. Meanwhile, in the mid eighties, in one of the constitutional General Assemblies, the G.L.G. became A.F. and A.M., becoming this way aligned with the prevailing system of world Masonry.
The fantastic growth of the 80s coincided with a deplorable act
by a group of some fanatic members who were aiming at high posts but
had not been elected to them. Nevertheless the schism was a fact. That
runaway group soon broke into four other groups. However, the effect on
the Grand Lodge was minimal, as the latter has been experiencing an
unprecedented growth, with the preponderance of the regular World Grand Lodges remaining in amity with the G.L.G. while fraternal relations with them are continuously enhancing.
In 1993, York Rite Grand Chapter, under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of Greece
was created and its effects in terms of substance and growth were
spectacular. At this time there are 21 R.A. Chapters. The General Grand Chapter International recognizes exclusively this Grand Chapter in Greece.
The G.L.G., is now numbering a membership of over 8000 which is increasing and exceeds the normal attrition and covers sufficiently all of the Country.
Its intellectual, social and philanthropic achievements are indeed impressive and include among others:
The edition of the Masonic Bulletin "Pythagoras" initially published in 1882 and containing only texts of Masonic interest. This Bulletin is edited in the greek language twice a year and distributed free of charge among all Freemasons of the G.L.G. There is also since 1994, a yearly edition of "Pythagoras" in the english language, containing articles and important Masonic news translated from the greek as well as the contributions of selected foreign Masonic articles. This edition in english is sent to all Grand Lodges, with which the G.L.G. maintains mutual amicable relations, thus inviting a closer spiritual communication and a strengthening of the international fraternal bonds.
The biannual Open Events, taking place at the promises of the Athens Masonic Hall. These events consist of round table Conferences referring to cultural, scientific and social subjects treated by experts or specialists. The large audience consists of Masons and non-Masons who have the opportunity to attend an interesting and wide-ranging discussion every time the opening speeches.
Twice a year also, since 1989, Freemasons, under the care of the Voluntary Blood Donation Service of the G.L.G., give blood at the Athens and Piraeus Masonic Halls, for the benefit of the Childrens' Hospital "Agia Sophia", specially for those suffering from Cooley's anaemia.
Furthermore, in order to enable this Hospital to meet its increasing needs for blood, the G.L.G. offered a fully equipped and state of the art blood collection vehicle of great value.
On the other hand there is also a large contribution of Masons in postmortem donation of human organs, under the supervision of the Greek Ministry of Health.
The G.L.G.'s assistance to the earthquake (Pyrgos, District of Western Macedonia, Pafos in Cyprus) and flood (Metamorphosis Karditsa, Xanthi) victims; the reequipment of earthquake stricken hospitals (Pyrgos, Kozani); the grant of scholarships to fereign postgraduate students in International Law under the auspices of the Aristotelian University (Thessaloniki).
The grant of two other vehicles to the Cyprus Cancer Assosiation in order to enable it to expand its home care service to many provinces of the island; the donation of a sophisticated and very useful medical instrument, requested by the Department of Paediatrics at the Aristotelian University; the important offer of a large amount of money to support the construction of a hospital wing in Thessaloniki for children suffering from cancer ("Storgi" Assosiation) and of a nursery, where parents may leave infants or small children in charge of nurses ("Merimna tou Paediou" Assosiation).
The total amount in drachmas, donated by the Grand Lodge of Greece in various charities, between 1993 and 2001, came up to 504,049.05 or GRD 171,754,715.
This is reproduced here with permission of Grand Lodge of Greece.
HISTORY | 3rd MILLENIUM | FAMOUS | YORK RITE | SUMMARY | CONTENTS | E-MAIL