Activity and presence of initiatory groups dates back to middle-age: the builders of the Cathedral were probably “pythagorean freemasons” and most likely, also the founder of the Templars, found burial in the city.

inserito il 23 04 2018, nella categoria Ferrara Massonica

By Andrea Musi

At present, four are the Masonic Lodges active in Ferrara, more than one hundred are the “brothers” in Ferrara and two are the temples where meetings are held. Recently also two female groups were established.

Just in these months the most ancient lodge dedicated to Girolamo Savonarola, celebrates its 70° anniversary; whereas 40 years old is the Ferrara Lodge inspired by Giordano Bruno, martyr in the cause of Free Thinking, sent to the stake by the Inquisition four centuries ago.

Later on appears the lodge founded in 2006 in the name of Meuccio Ruini, remarkable Emilian Freemason who was part of the noble fathers of our Constitution.

Whereas the youngest lodge, is the one founded at the Orient of Bondeno, with the name of “Sol Invictus”, and papal bull dated 31st October 2014.

Four centuries ago in Piazza dei Fiori in Rome, Giordano Bruno was burnt alive by the Inquisition.

Fourty years ago a spark of that stake relighted the flame of free thought in Ferrara: in fact, it dates back to 16th September 1973 the dawn of the Respectable Lodge number 852 at the Orient of Ferrara, dedicated exactly to “Giordano Bruno”. It is the second lodge, by order of seniority, of the three masonic mechanic workshops registered at the Grand Orient of Italy of Palazzo Giustiniani and still active in the province of Ferrara.

Therefore, eight were the freemason brothers in Ferrara, who first sat amongst the temple’s columns. Today they are nearly fifty in number, whilst the freemasons in Ferrara are more than one hundred, plus a small group of “sisters” who recently gave birth to a new female Lodge of the Orient Stars, distinguished with the name of “Osiris Chapter”, followed in more recent times (September 2017) by the birth of the “Aldebaran” Lodge pertaining to the Female Freemason Grand Lodge of Italy, which, in turn, received by inheritance, an analogous Anita Garibaldi Lodge founded in 1916, which had a rather short life.

Whereas, the most ancient ferrara male lodge, still in activity, is devoted to Girolamo Savonarola. It recovered the name and relighted the tradition of another prestigious ferrara lodge which had “died out” and went dispersed during the last world war. The erection of Its columns dates back to 30 October 1945, after the “demolition” of the Freemasonry and of its temples by Fascism.

It seems singular and perhaps even more meaningful from a symbolic point of view, the fact that a pyre, the one that burnt Giordano Bruno, in Campo dei Fiori in Rome the 17th February 1600, and the one that in Florence in 1498 burnt Savonarola, assimilates the two “historical” lodges of the city of the Ducal family of Este.

The third lodge in Ferrara was, instead “given baptism” on 30th January 2006 at the Orient of Cento, in the name of “Meuccio Ruini”, notorious Emilian freeman who was member of the noble fathers of our Constitution.

Eventually with papal bull dated the 31st October 2014, the fourth Ferrara lodge has just recently been given birth with the name of “Sol Invictus” at the Orient of Bondeno, a quadrant of the ducal family of Este province that has never, so far, been part of the freemasonry.

There was a time when in the Ferrara province many more masonic lodges were contemporaneously active; this at least was up to the threshold of the “great diaspora” and to the chain of dropping off that took place in the Eighties owing to the P2 deflagration followed by the inquiry ambiance toward the whole Freemasonry. Before this period, Ferrara gives evidence of the activity of something like 6 Freemasonry Workshops: the respectable Girolamo Savonarola Lodge, the Giordano Bruno, the Respectable Estense Lodge, the Respectable Tommaso Crudeli Lodge, the Ugo Bassi and the Giuseppe Garibaldi.

In these recent years, local Freemasonry has seen a considerable revival, in so far as “Masonic Homes”; in other words Freemasonry seats and temples have recently doubled: in fact besides the historical seats situated near the university area (completely restored after an earthquake, May 2012) a new and large seat was raised in the Ferrara North-Diamantina area. The seat has a temple that is the most containing and evocative of all the region. Soon the creation of the fourth Ferrara lodge is to be announced; it shall operate right in this new Masonic Home.

What is the relationship between Ferrara and Freemasonry?

Most likely it is more intense and meaningful than what the majority of the citizens of this city and province think.

Evident are the signs of the initiatory and esoteric thoughts in Ferrara since its origins. The very builders of the Dome themselves, were probably initiated to a Pythagorean school, and built the temple on the basis of the Pythagorean tetractis, a geometric harmony connected to number 10, putting a symbolic signature in the legs of one of the two telamons of the protiro with the form of an “X”. It is not by chance that the Dome builders were chosen and financed by a very rich family from Ferrara, the Adelardi, who were in close relationship with another famous initiatory order: the Templars.

Guglielmo II Adelardi took part in the second Crusade in Holy Land. He is buried with his son Guglielmo III, in the Templar church of Saint Mary of Bethlehem in Mizzana, built on his request. Originally, it had the typical circular plan of many churches of the order’s Temple; today there is only the apse. The connected building is a hospital, typical combination of the Templar Commendams.

Again in Ferrara, might have found burial and rest even the mortal remains of the founder of the Templar knights, thus according to the writings of an authoritative intellect of the Sixth Century, Marc’Antonio Guarini, in his Compendio Historico, 1621, giving value to the thesis that the initiator of the Templar legend was an Italian, Ugo De’ Pagani, and not the French Hugues De Pains, as required by the official historiography. Besides, Guarini is not the only one who endorses this thesis. There are in fact other documents of that period and many recent studies in line with this historical hypothesis.

As known, Freemasonry inherited many aspects of its esoteric, ritual and spiritual tradition from the Templar order. Thus, a tradition that is likely to have deep roots in Ferrara the same, maybe the last dwelling of the founder of the Templars, after the sanguinary combats in Holy Land for the crusade conquest of Jerusalem.

In recent times, nevertheless, before the foundation of the present Freemasonry (its Statutes were coded in England in 1717), these traces of esoteric symbology can also be found in the work of famous ferrarese painters from Cossa to Dosso Dossi, and in paintings by the the Sixteen’s Century artist from Cento Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called The Guercino (particularly in a painting named Et in Arcadia Ego).

Eventually one must not neglect that Ferrara gave hospitality in the ancient University to many famous initiates, for example Paracelsus or Paracelso (1493 – 1541), famous german alchemist, astrologer and medical doctor, who graduated in Medicine in the city of the Ducal Family of Este.

Another acclaimed initiate of the XVIII century attended the University of Ferrara; the poet and translator of Iliad Vincenzo Monti, born in the near town of Alfonsine.

In the city of Ferrara, Monti who was also Napoleon’s official poet- singer, literally left his heart… In the sense that his mummified heart is still kept in a casket in the Ariostea Library in Ferrara.

Moreover, many Ferrara citizens of these days would be surprised, while walking along the streets in the city, to realize how numerous are the streets dedicated to important freemasonry exponents: via Mazzini, via Garibaldi, via Mac Ellister… also via Bersaglieri del Po (the company founded by the Ferrara freemason Ercole Tancredi Trotti Mosti in 1847), and many others.

Icon and martyr of the Risorgimento and of Freemasonry is also a famous citizen from Cento, Ugo Bassi, Barnabite friar and chaplain of the Garibaldian troops; captured in Comachio (he was probably mistaken for Garibaldi, owing to a certain resemblance between the two, mainly due to the same shape of their beards. He was shot in Bologna by Austrians in 1849.

Somebody says that, Ugo Bassi, advised in time, upon the arrival of gendarmes, decided to remain with the purpose to give advantage to Garibaldi’s escape; an extreme sacrifice owing to the friendship and brother-hood that bounded him to the hero, who found other precious aid from freemasons of the place, in order to escape from the papaline and Austrian chase.

Decisive was the masonic support by colonel Nino Bonnet from Comacchio, a fundamental figure in the organization of the so called “garibaldine procedure”. Nino was Gaetano Bonnet’s brother, defender of the Roman Republic at Villa Corsini side by side with Angelo Masini.

More Freemason blood was shed upon the occasion of the martyrdom of Succi, Malaguti, and Parmeggiani, (a landlord, a very young medical doctor, a businessman) shot by Austrians on March 16th 1853 on the esplanade of the Ferrara Fortress, no longer existing. A boundary stone on the Estense Walls, is a reminiscent of the place where the execution took place

On that same occasion several freemasons are also among the other “conspirators”, arrested by Austrians and condemned to heavy penalties, to forced labors: De Lucca, Pareschi,Camillo Mazza, Vincenzo Barlaam,    Gaetano Ungarelli (a very young student in law who died later fighting with Garibaldi in Sicily) and again Franchi Bononi, De Giuli, Battara…

A freemason from Ferrara, Arnaldo Ferraguti, was the first illustrator for the book “Cuore” (Heart) by Edmondo De Amici. He was chosen by the author, who was a freemason, in the name of a close “brotherly friendship”.

Another artistic union, inspired by sympathy in ideals, was the one that bound the liberalist and Ferrara freemason Temistocle Solera and the famous composer Giuseppe Verdi who was notoriously very near to masonic ideas. Solera wrote for Verdi the libretto of operas dense with initiatory-risorgimental symbolism like Nabucco, the Lombards at the First Crusade, Joan of Arc…

Temistocle was son to Antonio Solera, judge and lawyer who, with Felice Foresti, also a Magistrate, with Count Antonio Oroboni and other patriots from Ferrara and from the Delta of the river Po, was a standing out figure of the Italian risorgimental Carbonarist movement. Spotted and captured they served many years a rigorous imprisonment in Spielberg in company with Silvio Pellico and Maroncelli.

Numerous also, were the enormous amounts of masonic inspired donations, to the community.

In memory of the Freemason Pico Cavalieri, hero of the first world war, who died in January 1917 crashing with his airship during a test flight, his family donated the great palace in Corso Giovecca, to the city. For a long time it was destined to host under the name of “Casa della Patria – Pico Cavalieri”,  (Home of the Country) headquarters of several Soldier and Army Associations.

At present, Palazzo Cavalieri is also the glamorous seat for Blood Donators of the Ferrara AVIS.

By means of the same Cavalieri family, (that saw several representatives in the masonic lodges) also the monumental imposing whole of San Cristoforo dei Bartolini, or “Ca di Dio” (Home of God) in Via Bersaglieri del Po, was donated to the city. At present, it is headquarter of the Institute of Arts Dosso Dossi.

An extraordinary donation of 10.000 dollars (an authentic fortune for those times) was determinant in 1935 in order to complete the restoration of the City Theatre of Ferrara, dedicated to the freemason from Ferrara Giulio Gatti Casazza, who became a prestigious director of the Scala and Metropolitan Theatre of New York. A brilliant career that made its start directing the Ferrara theatre.

Also after the recent earthquake in May 2012, the Italian freemasonry generously granted support to the Ferrara City Theatre, donating for the restauration the large amount of 50 thousand euro; the outcome of a subscription by all the Italian lodges.

A tangible recollection in the province, regards another famous musician, a freemasonry member: Giuseppe Borgatti, born in Cento in 1871, died in 1951 in Reno di Leggiuno, to whom is dedicated the glamorous City Theatre of Cento.   

The city of Guercino includes, amongst the most important figures of its history, another acclaimed freemason, Giuseppe Berselli, patriot of the Risorgimento, gonfalonier and major of the city of Cento during an uneasy period for the citizens who were going through the change from the Papal State to the new kingdom of Italy.

Owing to Giuseppe Borselli, is the the foundation of the Saving Bank of Cento, of which he was for a long time the president; distinguished also in his deeds for infancy and education. He founded the kindergarten Giordani of which he was headmaster and a generous financing member also. For those days,  as regards the services with which it was equipped, it was an advanced institution at a national as well as European level.

Borselli, was also nominated senator of the Kingdom. He was a great lover and devotee in the study of esoteric doctrines, alchemy and Spiritism. To this regard, he kept up an abundant correspondence with another politician from Cento, Francesco Borgatti a brotherly friend, who had been Minister of Justice.

He disposed that at his departure, the properties, enormous indeed, were to be used to build in Bondeno,  a big hospital, which still has his name.

Another generous deed was by the renowned freemason from Ferrara, Max Ascoli, representative of the local Jewish liberalism, had departed from Ferrara the year before the publication of the Racial Laws, and returned in the fifties after having built a great fortune in the United States, becoming one of the most trustworthy and precious collaborators of the banker Rockfeller. Max Ascoli and his family financed the construction of an entire pavilion of the Main hospital Saint Anna, for the treatment of eye diseases. The freemason Max Ascoli ordered that the ward be equipped with the most advanced, up dated technological instruments; thus, it turned out to be an advanced european centre.

In order to buy such instruments, he gave conspicuous amounts of money and full power to a few friends and to “brothers” of those days, amongst these, a well-known oculist from Ferrara. Thus, overcoming all kinds of public bureaucratic problems, the ward was completed and opened within few months.

Also the centre of one of the most prestigious cultural catholic institutions, Casa Cini, indirectly can be considered a masonic donation.

Son of a Ferrara pharmacist, count Vittorio Cini, pioneer of the Italian electric industry, for a long time had been inclined to donate the historical residency in Via Santo Stefano, right to the Ferrara Freemasonry to use it for their temple and seat of the lodge.

Intense preliminary contacts were made among representatives of the Ferrara Savonarola Lodge, close to the Count; contacts mainly kept by engineer Gandini, who at that time carried out functions of great responsibility in SADE, which was Count Cini’s electric society.  But, the tragic death of his son Giorgio in an airplane accident in 1949, the deep grief suffered, the deep spiritual crisis that followed, led Count Cini to the decision to donate the prestigious palace to the Jesuits. Out of doubt, in spite of the promises previously made, the Ferrara Freemasonry respected the Count’s change and will.

Another moment when the Ferrara Freemasonry was distinguished for its outstanding generosity, was on occasion of the tragic flood in the delta of the river Po in 1951, The local newspaper published the news of a large amount of money (300 thousand lire) collected and donated by the Savonarola Lodge. The courage of a well- known surgeon, a freemason from Ferrara was, also mentioned. The doctor had to operate in urgency a person who was in serious conditions. In spite of the fact that the water from the river Po had already flooded the Saint Mary Magdalen Clinic, where he was working, he decided at all costs to carry out his work. They rescued him at the last moment, with his patient who was out of danger.

Many others are the evidences of charitable gestures, intense and silent carried out by the Ferrara Freemasonry in all these years, using the resources of the so called “Widow’s Branch”, or the collection of the widow’s mite, a ritual in the Lodges, to assist single human cases, with particular attention to hardship and privations.

Famous people of the Freemasonry have certainly affected the city public life. In those days and particularly also at present, the masonic temple was attended by important men holding prominent positions, in economy, at the summit of enterprises, in important associations, in important saving banks, universities, trades and professions.

There have also been rumours concerning the political role by Freemasonry. This is due to the fact that men of the past fascist regime, such as Balbo and Rossini, were members of the freemasonry; or to the events of the recent deviations concerning Gelli and the P2 (by the way, Gelli visited Ferrara many times, even during his adventurous fugitiveness, because right in our city lived his senior sister to whom he was deeply bound by affection) many people believe that Freemasonry is a dark entity, reactionary, elictariousley anti-democratic.

Nothing more far away from reality.

It would be sufficient to consider that the first Italian Socialist Party held its foundation assizes in the meeting rooms of the ancient masonic lodge in Genova.

It would be sufficient to consider that Freemasonry itself was and is the inspirer of all the battles against absolutism (from French revolution as far up to the American revolution). Whereas, on the contrary, it has always been hamstringed and persecuted, by totalitarian regimes, by Nazism, as well as by communism, and by fascism. During that time, it was set out law and obliged to close down the lodges.

It would be sufficient to think that it was right the Freemasonry that inspired the most democratic constitutions of modern states, the universal statement of human rights, the birth of the Society of Nations (which became the ONU of nowadays), and many other philanthropic and humanitarian associations , for example the Red Cross.

In spite of all this, there are parties, paradoxically of the progressive wing, that still deny their members, permission to be freemason followers, in violation of the Art. 18 of the Italian Constitution that recognizes and protects “freedom of association”.

Most likely, they do not know that freemasons were also people who were members exactly in that political wing, like one of the most appreciated mayors of Florence Lando Conti, killed by the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades); or statists, as Allende and Dubcek. (Socialist president of Chile, who died because of his opposition to the military golpe by Pinochet and the protagonist of the so called “Praga Springtime”, courageous in the attempt to reform the communist system ruling in the East, attempt which was repressed by the Soviet tanks. Just before dying, Dubcek had the opportunity to visit Ferrara, Comacchio and the delta of the river Po and took love for this region and its people.

And probably, many people who still foster suspicions and uneasiness toward freemasonry, can relieve their spirits and fears, if they know that in the masonic lodges there were “dangerous” people moving around, such as Walt Disney, Stan Laurel and Totò. 

And what can one say about the masonic membership of another acclaimed Italian actor born in Ferrara, like Arnaldo Foà, passed away in 2014, of whom no one ever questioned his great popularity.

Today Freemasonry does no longer want to stay concealed, provided it ever wanted to do so; just consider the extraordinary visibility of one of the grand masonic symbols, the Statue of Freedom, that towers over the New York Bay, donated with a clear implicit meaning of brother-hood, by France to America. A work by the freemason sculpture Bartholdy.

The Ferrara Freemasonry’s dream, as well as Italians’ is to be able, eventually, to live in tolerance, fraternity and equality without incurring suspicion and discrimination.



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