History of Scottish Freemasonry in Lebanon
A historic outlook of Scottish Lodges in Lebanon. An extract from “A Brief History of the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon” collated by Brother Roland Prince.
1861 – LODGE PALESTINE No. 415
The first regular Masonic Lodge to be consecrated in Beirut was LODGE PALESTINE No. 415, chartered in May 6th, 1861, working on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland. The Lodge’s petition was considered and reviewed by the Grand Committee at its meeting which held at Freemason’s Hall on March 4th, 1861.
By 1868, Lodge Palestine had a membership of about 75 members, spread over the area known then as the ‘Greater Syria,’ with a substantial number of its membership in Beirut. It included a succession of eminent Masters and drew its membership from the elite of the local society and the intelligentsia. This included Brethren at American and English Schools of Higher Education, British Merchants, French and other Europeans who resided in the region.
Scottish Masonry flourished under the Ottoman empire despite many challenges and tribulations. During that period, many charters for more Lodges were issued by the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland:
1900 – Foundation of Lodge Peace 908 – Beirut
1904 – Foundation of Lodge Sannine 969 – Choueir
1906 – Foundation of Lodge Kadisha 1002 – Tripoli
1908 – Foundation of Lodge Zahle 1047 – Zahle
1914 – Foundation of Lodge el Mizab 1130 – Tripoli
1923 – Foundation of Lodge Mount Lebanon 1312 – Shweifat
1926 – Foundation of Lodge King Hiram 1351 – Tripoli
1952: TWO DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS
In 1952, two District superintendents were appointed to govern the Lodges in the region:
- District Superintendent of Palestine – governed by Dr. G.L. Colenso-jones Tripoli, Lebanon.
This District Superintendent governed over the following Lodges: Carmel 1085 – Haifa; Jordan 1339- Jaffa; The Golden Throne 1344– Jerusalem; King Hiram 1351 – Tripoli; the Lodge of the holy City 1372 -Jerusalem; Rubin 1376 – Haifa; Mizpah 1383- Jerusalem; Sharon 1387 – Tel Aviv; Aviv 1397- Tel-Aviv.
- District Superintendent of Syria and Lebanon – governed by George A. Ashkar- Beirut, Lebanon.
This District Superintendent governed the following Lodges: Peace 908 – Beirut; Kadisha 1002 Tripoli; Zahle 1047- Zahle; Light of Damascus 1058- Damascus; Emessa 1125- Homs; El Mizab 1130 – Tripoli.
1954 – 1960: by 1954, all Lodges were redistributed under the “District Superintendent of Eastern Mediterranean”, but still under the governance of Dr. G.L.Colenso-Jones London sand included the following eight Lodges:
Peace 908 – Beirut; Zahle 1047- Zahle; Light of Damascus 1058- Damascus;
Emessa 1125- Homs; El Mizab 1130 – Tripoli; Jordan 1339- Amman; Golden Throne 1344– Jerusalem Lodge. and King Hiram 1351 – Tripoli.
1964 – With the closing of King Hiram Lodge 1351 in the early sixties, the Lodges working under the “District superintendent of the Eastern Mediterranean” were reduced to seven. A few years later, in 1968, Mount Lebanon Lodge 1312 was added.
1969 – The name was changed to the “District Superintendent of Lebanon” and remained under the direction of Dr. G.L. Colenso-Jones London. By then, the Lodges were reduced to five, and were limited only to the Lodges working within the Lebanese territory of that time:
Peace 908 – Beirut; Kadisha 1002 – Beirut; Zahle 1047- Zahle; El Mizab 1130 – Tripoli; Mount Lebanon 1312 – Beirut.
The other Lodges in the Kingdom of Jordan, Jordan 1339- Amman and The Golden Throne 1344– Jerusalem, went under the direct supervision of Grand Lodge.
1987 – Due to the Civil War outbreak in Lebanon, four out of the five lodges working under the “District Superintendent” suspended their regular meetings and went dormant with the single exception of Peace Lodge 908, who kept on working under the direct supervision from the Grand Lodge.
1991 – Lodge El Mizab 1130 resumed its operations to become the second Lodge under the direct Supervision of Grand Lodge. Lodge Zahle 1047 also resumed its operations in 1998, becoming the third operational lodge.
2005 – On the 9th of June, 2005, Lodge Harmony 1830– Zahle’s charter was issued by the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland, becoming the 4th operating Lodge in Lebanon.
District Grand Superintendent of Lebanon
2007 – The Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland commissioned a new “District Grand Superintendent” for Lebanon to govern over the four operating Lodges in Lebanon. Subsequently, two additional Lodges were reponed and added to the list of operational Lodges:
In 2010 – Lodge Kadisha 1002 has had its charter restituted
In 2012 – Lodge Mount Lebanon 1312 was relaunched in December 2012
District Grand Master for the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon
2012 – The Idea of commissioning a District Grand Master for Lebanon was introduced to the membership and on the 1st of June, 2013, the Consecration & Installation meeting No. 001 of the “District Grand Lodge of Lebanon” was held at 4:00 PM, on Saturday, the 1st of June 2013 in the presence of Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Brother Charles Iain R. Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont, Brother W. Ramsey McGhee, Depute Grand Master, Brother David Begg, the Grand Secretary, and Brother Andrew E. Paterson, the Grand Librarian.
2014 – On the 6th of February, the charterer of Lodge Pythagoras 1841 was issued as the seventh Lodge under the Scottish Constitution in Lebanon.
2016 – On the 4th of February, at the Grand Lodge Communication, the Lodge King Hiram 1351, which was originally chartered on the 5th of August, 1926, was reponed with Brother Andrew E. Paterson as the first reponing Master, as the 8th Lodge in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.
Later that year, the then District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon resigned his office, which led the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason, Brother Charles Iain Robert Wolridge Gordon of Esselmont, to appoint Brother Andrew E. Paterson as the Acting District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon to cover the the period till the end of the term of the exiting District Grand Master.
Two additional lodges were consecrated between 2016 – 2018
2016 – October 29th – The Charter of Lodge Trinity 1846 was issued as the 9th Lodge in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.
2018 – February 1st The Charter of Lodge Al Nour 1847 was issued as the 10th Lodge in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.
2018 – On the 1st of February 2018, Brother Rabih Jarmakani was commissioned as the Right Worshipful District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon. On the 9th of June the Installation of Brother Jarmakani took place at the Hilton Habtour in an installation ceremony that included over 128 international visitors, and the Most Worshipful Grand Master Mason with the Grand Lodge installation team. The installation was followed by a formal dinner that included over 300 diners.
2020 – February 6th The Charter of Lodge Al Arz 1853 was issued as the 11th Lodge in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.
By 2021, the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon had consecrated a new Masonic Temple and the last two Lodges, Al Nour 1847 and Al Arz 1853. It designed and produced a district tie, produced an arabic version of ‘Aulde Lang Syne’ and a 9-minute masonic documentary video. The District launched its ‘Honorary District Grand Rank’ system, established a quarterly RWM-DGM meeting, and promoted Lebanon as a prime destination for masonic tourism. It organized deputations lead by the District Grand Master visiting Masons in Cyprus, Amman, Lagos, Istanbul, Cape Town, Edinburgh, Washington DC, Toronto and the Bahamas. The District worked on establishing regular communications with Grand Lodges in amity that are in geographic proximity to Lebanon such as the Grand Lodge of Greece and that of Turkey. The District established a strong online presence with a secure website and various social media platforms. The District Grand Lodge of Lebanon showcased its success on social media at the 3rd International Masonic Scottish Conference in the Bahamas with a paper titled ‘The Secret to changing public perception for Freemasonry.’
The District promoted an institutional structure and launched committees that included the secretariat team, digital affairs, education & translation, public relations, media production, and growth & planning. It adopted a standardized financial software, issued more than 15 comprehensive bulletins on processes, and a unified book inspection system. It reduced its district communications to two and held one in a different region to ensure maximum inclusion of the membership.
During the COVID pandemic, the District Grand Lodge launched various initiatives focusing on benevolence, charity and masonic education for its Brethren confined to their homes. It also launched a ‘Masonic Research Initiative’ education program under the name ‘Magnus Geometres’ that hosted many published freemasons, and held more than 20 educational workshops.
After the tragic August 4th Beirut explosion, the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon lead an initiative with the other 2 regular Grand Lodges in Lebanon to form the Fraternal Assistance Crisis Team and actively secured funding for the initiative from Masonic jurisdictions worldwide.
2021 – February 5th, the Charter of Lodge Adonis 1854 was issued as the 12th Lodge in the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon.
- History of the Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary’s Chapel) No.1. By David Murray Lyon, Benno Loewy (p324)
- History of freemasonry in the near east.
- Billy Kay. 2012. The Scottish World: A Journey into the Scottish Diaspora. Edinburgh and London: Mainstream Publishing. 319 ss.
- Historic Freemasonry in the Middle East – Isaac Bar-Moshe
- Freemasonry in the Ottoman Empire – A history of Fraternity and its Influence in Syria and the Levant. – Dorothe Sommers – 2015
- Grand Lodge of Scotland Year Books – 19526
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- District Grand Lodge Proceedings.