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Freemasonry Watch

Marquis de Lafayette’s sword at the Paris Freemasonry Museum

Pulling Back the Curtain on French Freemasonry

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Intransit NY Times Travel Blog

Pulling Back the Curtain on French Freemasonry

February 19, 2010


1 Comment

The Marquis de Lafayette’s sword, Freemasonry in Paris
The Marquis de Lafayette’s sword, one of the items on view at the newly renovated Museum of Freemasonry in Paris. Lisa Pham
A once mysterious fraternal society continues to put itself in the public eye with the opening of the completely renovated Museum of Freemasonry, which opened in a newly renovated location in Paris last week. The Grand Orient de France, the oldest and largest Masonic organization in the country, has been collecting items dating from as far back as the 1720s, around the time that Freemasonry was established in France. It now has 10,000 objects in total, including a collection of 18th-century earthenware that was recently purchased with the help of the French government.

Gérard Contremoulin, a spokesman for the Grand Orient de France, said that the museum’s previous location was limited to a tiny room. The ground floor of the museum has since been entirely redone to create a bigger exhibition space (Grand Orient de France, 16, rue Cadet; 33-1-45-23-43-97; www.museedelafrancmaconnerie.org; Metro: Cadet). “We decided to open our collection to the public in the spirit of transparency,” Mr. Contremoulin said. “We have nothing to hide.”

About 600 objects are on display including the revolutionary leader Marquis de Lafayette’s sword, the philosopher Voltaire’s Masonic apron, color-fired glass used during rituals, original manuscripts and Rosicrucian jewelry. An image bank has also been expanded for commercial clients; hundreds of documents spanning three centuries have been digitized and are available online.

There are 140,000 Freemasons in France, according to the Grand Orient de France. Unlike the Anglo-American tradition, French Freemasonry allows women to join some of its organizations, and belief in God is not a prerequisite. By spreading ideas of liberty and democracy during the Enlightenment period, the Freemasons played an influential role in the French Revolution. Their motto, like that of the French Republic, is “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”

While the Freemasons are a discreet society, Denis Lefebvre, a French historian, said that they are not a secret society. He explained that initiations and rituals are designed to help members work together, while the reason for their discretion is to avoid being the target of anti-Freemason sentiment. “It’s a way to protect members from harm and danger,” he said.

The Museum of Freemasonry is open Tuesday to Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m. Admission is 6 euros (about $8.15).

1 Comment

delford t louis
red deer, alberta,canada

..freemasons finally realize the mindless drivel they concocted three hundred years or so ago goes the way of the charlatan...

Feb. 19, 2010 at 12:33 p.m.

Further Reading

Freemasonry in France, Belgium (E.U.), Monaco and French Africa

Travel to the F.·.W.·. Middle Chamber

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