History of Armenian Freemasons & DGL of Lebanon under GL of Scotland

Armenian masonry emerged and developed in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Four masonic lodges were initially formed within the powerful Armenian communities. Many Armenians also became members of other masonic organizations and new lodges were created by the Diaspora in the 20th century including in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

It’s known that as early as 1762, an Armenian named Doctor Manas was appointed as the Master of one of the lodges in Middle East.

In 1830s, Armenians who occupied high diplomatic posts joined masonic lodges during their trips to Europe and did not conceal this fact. They apparently wanted to use close ties with the European intellectuals in order to solve various issues of concern for the Armenians.

Torgom Boyajian, a master of Hayastan lodge

The masonic ideas and principles found appreciation among Armenians, who valued national awakening, freedom, equality and the power of constitution, democracy and progress. Masonic conception was welcomed by Armenians in Constantinople, some of whom participated in the creation of the Armenian Constitution in 1850.

The reforms to improve the condition of national minorities in the Ottoman Empire (1830-50) were not implemented and many Armenians intellectuals sought solution against the injustices practiced against them by joining masonic organizations.

Constantinople Armenian Mkrtich Peshiktashlian (1828-1868), a Brother Freemason, propagated the unification of Armenians.

The history of the first Armenian Lodges:

1. The first Armenian lodge titled Tigran № 1014 opened in Smyrna under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of England on April 29, 1864. Some famous members of the lodge included Brothers Mesrop Nuparean (lexicographer and translator) and Matteos Mamourian (novelist and political activist). Brother Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, was mentioned among the visitors of the lodge.

2. The second Armenian masonic lodge was called Ser, of which a large number of Armenians intellectuals including Brothers Harutiun Svachian, Matteos Mamourian, Mkrtich Peshiktashlian, Michael Alishan, Srapion Hekimian, Serope Aznavour and others were members. The lodge opened on May 7, 1866 in Constantinople and operated till 1890.

3. Armenian lodge Euphrates № 1078 was founded in 1909 in Hyusenik village of Kharbert (Western Armenia) under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

4. The fourth Armenian mason lodge Hayastan № 1185 was founded in Constantinople on May 1, 1919 and was subject to the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

The Prime Ministers of the First Republic of Armenia, Brothers Alexander Khatisian and Simon Vratsian were Freemasons.

Today, Armenian Brothers promote Freemasonry and its principles in every leadership position they use to inspire others throughout Armenia and the diaspora, including with certainty Lebanon.

The District Grand Lodge of Lebanon (which has witnessed the existence of Scottish freemasonry since 1861), under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, is fortunate to have many Lebanese Brothers of Armenian dissent rank amongst its membership and leadership.

An Invitation to the Armenian Brothers to visit Lebanon and forge stronger ties between the two jurisdictions, was extended to the past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Armenia, MW Brother Armen Simonian, by the District Grand Master of Lebanon at the recently concluded installation of the Grand Masted of the District of Colombia in Washington DC.

Karen Hakobyan
Grand Master
U.S President Harry Truman with a cap and emblem of Ararat lodge. A photo from « Armenians’ contribution to Ottoman Empire » book (author Hasmik Stepanyan)
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