Raimondo Di Sangro & the First Grand Lodge - Part 1

Raimondo di Sangro. The unpublished news about his entry into Freemasonry and the Arcana Arcanorum of Naples.

We know that the first Masonic lodge was 'The Perfect Union' in Naples under the Austrian viceroyalty, from 1728 to 1734. Since then, the Neapolitan lodge attempted to be re-awaken under the King Charles Bourbon of Naples in 1735, it was nipped in the bud by the Neapolitan police that was sent by Prime Minister Benardo Tannucci, for this reason the Neapolitan prince Don Gennaro Carafa di Roccella, 1715-1765, applied for affiliation with the Masonic lodge in Paris, France, headed by the Duke of Villeroy, on Feb. 26, 1737, and was assigned as a companion to the lodge in Marseilles since July 1737.

In Naples at his urging, a group of foreign merchants attempted in 1743 the re-awakening of the lodge the Perfect Union, but Tannucci's police prevented it in the center of Naples, in the palace of the Carafa di Roccella family, near Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, on Via Trinità dei Monti, now Via Benedetto Croce, and in June 1745, the Neapolitan lodge was finally Awakened.

The Zelo, in the summer house of the Carafa di Roccella family, in the house of Marquis Gazzola brother of Prince Gennaro Carafa, prince of Roccella, at the bridge of the Riviera di Chiaia directed by the clothes merchant, the Frenchman Larnage da Lione and 5 junior officers of the Royal Neapolitan Bourbon Army, and a month later 7 other officers, a priest and two merchants from Naples entered it, including Francesco Zelaia, ensign of the Royal Naples regiment, who was immediately appointed new Venerable of that Neapolitan lodge who upon presentation of Don DOMENICO VENIER, aide-de-camp of King S>M Carlo Borbone of Naples, was received in the 3rd Degree as a Master Master, Don Gennaro Carafa - Prince of Roccella in July 1745.

In this lodge he was received a week later in July 1745 and initiated by the Venerable Master Don Gennaro Carafa, under the General Master of Zelaia in Naples, Prince Don Raimondo Maria di Sangro di Sansevero, 1710-1771, gentleman of the King of Naples in 1737 knight of San Gennaro, in 1738 knight of Malta, colonel commander of the provincial infantry regiment of Linea, Capitanata, of Foggia from 1742.

Literate, scientist-inventor since 1739, scholar of military strategy, kabbalist, alchemist in Naples since 1737. In December 1745 for his merits and titles, Raimondo di Sangro , was elevated to the 3rd Masonic degree, Scottish blue lodge, according to the Anderson's Masonic Constitutions of 1724 and to the rank of 1st Overseer and Orator, and in that capacity he received two new outstanding Masons, the Sicilian colonel and prince Calvaruso and the lieutenant of the Swiss infantry regiment, Tschudy, in Naples, the young Baron Henry Theodor Tschudy from Metz, 1724-1769, a man of letters, kabbalist, alchemist and gnostic.

Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero published many Masonic works of his own and translated them from French or English into Italian and printed them at his own expense in Naples, anonymously, in his printing house di Sangro di Sansevero, directed by the printers Morelli and Salzano, located on the first floor of Palazzo San Severo in San Domenico Maggiore, in 1746.

In addition, Raimondo di Sangro on August 3, 1747, on the left mezzanine floor of his palace toward his San Severo Chapel in Naples, founded his own Masonic lodge of the Scottish Rite, but with Rosicrucian principles, called “Rosa d'Ordine Magno”, an anagram of Raimondo Di Sangro, immediately admitting the Swiss Tschudy, his architect and director of works in the Sansevero Chapel, the Venetian Antonio Corradini and the Roman engineer Felice Piccinini, born in 1723 and in the service of the Sansevero family since 1745 as professor of mathematics and chemistry to the prince's sons and director of the alchemy laboratory in the San Severo palace, his cousin Don Gennaro Carafa prince of Roccella and his brother the Count of Gazzola, his friend the prince of Calvaruso.

Initiations were held in the Sansevero Chapel at night, under the dagger-armed surveillance of the 30 valets and lackeys of the Prince of San Severo, all hooded and young loyalists from Puglia, Calabria and Naples, directed by Monsieur Lambert, butler of the house of San Severo, who patroled the palace, chapel and nearby alleys during meetings of the Rosa d'Ordine Magno.

In 1749 other military personnel, high-ranking nobles, princes, foreign diplomats, the Austrian and British ambassadors to Naples, Lord Herdenesse, a friend of S.Germain, in France, the diplomatic resident of Venice in Naples, the French ambassador, during the Lodge's two-years life of 24 major adepts and 30 apprentices and companions, the only Lodge in Italy and Naples at the time practicing the Scottish high degrees after the 3rd degree of Master Master. Specifically it practiced the 4th Degree of Secret Master, the Master Elect of 9 Degree the Degree of Sublime Philosopher, similar to the 18th degree also known as Knight of the Rose+Cross.

On Oct. 10, 1750, it was proposed to the Grand Lodge of Naples Zello at the Chiaia Bridge by the Carafa family to appoint in Zelaia as the new National Grand Master of all Freemasonry in the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, the Prince of San Severo, Raimondo di Sangro, at the proposal of Abbot Latilla Benedetto, orator at the Grand Lodge and 3rd degree of Blue Lodge Master at the Rosa d'Ordine Magno Lodge (future bishop of Avellino and from 1754 and preceptor from 1759 of the royal prince heir to the throne of Naples, Ferdinand IV).

To be Continued…