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MARCEL SCHAPIRA

Mare Maestru de Onoare ad vitam al Marii Loji Nationale din România

Suveran Mare Comandor de Onoare ad vitam al Supremului Consiliu al RSAA din România



Dear and Illustrious Brother Claudiu Ionescu


I am very honoured by your invitation and I begin by sending my warmest and most cordial feelings to my Brethren in Romania, as well as my personal congratulations for the "content and graphics" outstanding tenure of MASONIC FORUM Magazine that is so competently managed by you.

But let's move on to:

"125 years since the Kindling of the Light in Romania"!

I must confess I have my doubts concerning this definition! Because light had been kindled even at the beginning of the 18th century and was never put out.

MARCEL SCHAPIRA

Obviously, the matter cannot be discussed here in its amplitude, yet, during my Masonic life of approx. 60 years, without stopping and often charged with different positions, I learned that History is not just a story.but rather, naturally, a series of authentic facts, verified and subscribed in the national patrimony (in our case) and, consequently, thoroughly respected. Let's start with the beginning: The first Freemason in the Romanian Principalities- "Antonio Battista Maria Del Chiaro" (Signification of the name: Antonio - a protégé of St. Antonio of Padova; Battista - baptized; Maria - the name of the Holy Virgin; del Chiaro - adoptive Father - an important prelate, aristocrat). This very cultivated and intelligent young man was hired as secretary, starting with 1709, by the Moldavian Voivode Brâncoveanu, served Voivode Serban Cantacuzino, being left to Italy, he was called back by the young Voivode Constantin Mavrocordat. Thus, in 1733, an Italian ship anchored in Galati. Del Chiaro, a Romanian speaker (and Mason), disembarked together with other 8 Italian Masons from this ship. Shortly, they formed in Galati the first Romanian Lodge "Loggia nel Galazzi" of the Memphis Rite, under the obedience of Concordia Lodge in Florence, Worshipful Scarlat Ghica, who became a Voivode in 1757.

For two centuries, the Romanian Principalities represented a territory of confrontation and influence of foreign Masonic powers, namely, Grand Orient of France (dominating and militant), Grand Italian Lodges: Cucchiara and Concordia in Florence, Vittoria in Naples, Libertas in Venice, The Grand "Memphis" Sanctuary in Constantinople and, finally, Lusitanian Order (Portugal).

I have to mention that in addition, with the Independent Lodges, The Romanian Principalities had the most numerous and prosperous Masonry in the whole Eastern Europe.

We can assume that almost all the Princes: {tirbei, Sturdza, Bibescu, Sutzo, Ghica, Cantacuzino, Brâncoveanu, Moruzi, etc as well as the majority of Ministers of Internal Affairs, Sword Bearers, Seneschals, Chancellors, Treasurers, High Stewards, Cup-Bearers, Young Princes, Collectors on Duties of Spirits, etc, were Masons. I will refer some other time to the great episodes about: Horia, Closca and Crisan, T. Vladimirescu, Ipsilanti and mention (briefly) Masons and revolutionists from 1848.

REVOLUTION FROM 1848, ISLAZ, ROMANATI County

PROCLAMATION OF 9TH JUNE Report

Published after 5 days - 14 June 1848

On Behalf Of The Romanian People

Justice Fraternity

"The Temporary Government Decrees"

"The National Flag will bear three colours: Blue, Yellow and Red. The Romanian slogan will be written on flags, monuments and public decrees and will contain these words: Justice - Fraternity."



(I will stop here)

The members of the temporary government: Neqfit - the Metropolitan Bishop of Hungary-Walachia; G. Scurti; Nicolae Balcescu, C.A. Rosetti, A.G. Golescu; I.C. Bratianu (all were Masons).

All the members of the government, in their official letters, wrote above there signature the term Salute and Brotherhood.

I would like to mention - briefly -  the Romanian Masonic epopee in the well-known Paris Lodge, "L'Athenee des Etrangers" (1844/1860). Worshipful: Alfons de Lamartine - Supr. Jules Michelet, Edgar Quinet (Gheorghe Assaki's son-in-law). This Lodge will become the favourite place of the Great Romanian Masons: I.C. Bratianu, Dim. Bratianu, C.A. Rosetti, Dimitriu brothers, D. Bolintineanu, Scarlat Varnav, Cezar Bolliac, Costache Negri, Ion Heliade Radulescu, M. Kogalniceanu, Vasile Alecsandri, Constantin Bolintineanu (the poet's brother), etc.

I will overpass the prestigious periods of the Lodges Star of Danube - 1855-56-57 Galati-Iasi-Bucuresti, Ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza (Too important subjects to be treated briefly) and jump to the year 1880.

1880 - National Grand Lodge of Romania (125 years - the object of anniversary!)

In this year, the Star of Danube Lodge, which had the title of Mother Lodge, thanks to the Italian Brethren from the Grand Orient of Naples, Infine, received the highly-solicited title of Grand Mother Lodge "Star of Danube", Grand Master I.C. Bratianu. Being the prime minister of the Government, Bratianu resigned and passed the Grand Master gavel to Major Constantin Moroiu, who proclaimed the foundation of National Grand Lodge of Romania and appointed Bratianu Honorary Grand Master of the NGLR.

The period of Major Moroiu was excellent, helped by the Italian Brethren (he was initiated in Naples); witty and enterprising, he travelled a lot in different countries and created Lodges abroad: (Rusciuc/Bulgaria-Czech, Cairo: Egypt) and, especially, he gloriously created in 1883 - Romanian Military Lodge in Brussels, Belgium, "Les Fils de Roumanie" Lodge (Sons of Romania), reserved to Romanian cadets, pupils in the Military School in Brussels. I allow myself to list a few names of pupils and members who had an important role in Romania: Generals: Solacolo, Crainiceanu, Prezan (marshal), Rascu, - Colonels: Radulescu, Teisanu, Laptev, N. Baranga, Gh. Caracas. Others: Grigore Lahovari, Mihail Ghica.

I quote my personal case - in May 1983 - I was a guest at a reunion of Grand Commanders in Brussels in front of a deputation of the Supreme Council of Romania in exile, in the Great Temple of Belgian Masonry "King Leopold"; at the welcome discourse of the Belgian Grand Commander, I answered that we, the Romanians, had a commemoration in Brussels, 100 years since the establishment of "Sons of Romania" Lodge. Belgian Brethren and all the foreign representatives, kindly participated at the small ceremony that we celebrated in their presence (I was so proud!).

I return to NGLR in 1880. Grand Master Moroiu proclaimed honorary members such as: Giuseppe Garibaldi, King Oskar of Sweden-Norway and Albert Pike 33° of S.C. U.S.A. - Southern Jurisdiction. Obviously, not all the Lodges were able to adhere to NGLR, a great part of these Lodges worked with patents from different countries. Growing old, Moroiu committed some mistakes and was no longer in the favours with other powers. To a very clumsy letter, the last one, to Albert Pike in America (I own a copy of this letter), Albert Pike was not willing to answer.

Moroiu understood the situation and passed the gavel to Grand Master Gheorghe Bibescu - Senior. 1916 - Romania went to war. Constantin Moroiu died at the age of 85 on 27.04.1918.

On 15.06.1919 it was founded "United Romania" the first Lodge of AASR. Founder and Worshipful: Jean (Ion) Pangal. This AASR Lodge transformed into a Supreme Council of AASR of the 33° in 1921. Grand Commander J. Pangal, members: Zamfir Arbure, Pantelimon Hallipa (Pan Hallipa) Prof. Ion Peretz, Col. Radovici, etc. In the same time, it was established a second NGLR - Grand Master Zamfir Arbure, Pro G.M. Antoine Theodoride, Vasile Roata, Col. Radovici, George Boncesu, Dr. Leonida Vladimir (I met him personally) among others.

1930 - The so-called nationalists set a bomb in the Temple on Câmpineanu St.

1931 - On the occasion of a parliamentary congress, in the presence of the deputies of 49 states, a terrible drama happened. Among the visitors there was a good friend of Romania: the Grand Master of Belgian Masonry Henri Lafontaine, Professor, Vice-President of Belgian Senate, Nobel Prize for Peace laureate. On one evening he and his wife were invited in a Lodge in the vicinity, they walked, he was 77 years old, his wife was terrified, they were saved by the offended passers-by who succeeded in drive away the thugs.There was panic and excuses from the Royal Palace, Prime Minister, Prefect, etc. In front of numerous journalists, Lafontaine declared that he loved Romania, he didn't press charges and asked the journalists not to publish the event.

1937 - Urged by the powers of the Axis, King Carol II, although he was a Mason, understood that England and France were helpless, asked Pangal to close the Masonic Order and appointed him Ambassador in Spain and Portugal. I must add that in 1923 and 1924, the Supreme Romanian Council and Grand Commander were recognized by the French Supreme Council - Rene Raymond and, in 1925 - the American Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, Grand Commander John H. Cowles.

Grand Master of NGLR, Prince George Valentin Bibescu continued activity in secrecy in his castle, his Lodge, "Love Chain", like United Romania, which entered in "opposition" in the discreet residences of the Brethren.

I would like to make a special reference to the activity of Masons in Constanta, Naval Base, where they settled Lodges such as: "Lighthouse of Constanta - Ovidius", "Tomis", "Star of the South" (founded on 7.05.1882, in Mangalia), working nowadays under the name of "Southern Star" under the leadership of the excellent Worshipful Br. Vladimir Bodnariuc. This lodge honoured me by appointing me Honorary Worshipful.

I return to the story. After the last war, in 1945, NGLR regained its Force and Vigour. Grand Master: Grigore (Ghita) Grigoriu (Counselor at the High Audit Office), deputy G.M.: N.D. Cocea and Victor Eftimiu - Grand Secretary: General Pandelea. Communist pressures and infiltrations. The new Grand Master M. Antoniu tried (in vain) to save the situation.

On 18.06.1948 - came the order to send the Lodges on vacation. The second day the Premises in Bursei St. were occupied by the Ministry of Agriculture. (I pass over many details). On 25 August 1948, "in contrario" to the affirmations of a recent historian from Bucharest, who asserted that in Paris there were Jew emigrants?? - in Paris, Masons were political refugees. I found in Paris Masons who were there before I was, Brethren: Pangal, Poenaru Bordea, Jean Soneriu, Trancu Iasi, Florescu, Alexandru Melinte, Dan Dragomirescu, Alexandru Romanescu, Vintila Petala, Nicolae Metta (Prof.) and many others.Lodges were created: "United Romania", "Unification Chain", "Scottish Unification Chain". I have to mention that among the greatest actors of Romanian Masonry in Paris, there was Jean (Ion) Vitiano, who was in France in 1935/1936, he participated in the "French opposition" and was the Worshipful of "United Romania".

Masonic Martyrs of the Ferocius Oppression of the Communist Regime

Among the dead and the released from the horrid prisons in 1965, Brethren: Florescu Vasile, ex Police Colonel, Artareanu, Paul Bratasanu, Bilciurescu Alex, Alfred Cerchez, Constantin Bellu  (to whom righteously belonged the position of Grand Commander of AASR, 33°), Leonida Vladimir (Grand Secretary of the Supreme Council, 33°).

In 1969, the French Supreme Council gave me the 33°. Brother Constantin Bellu contacted me, gave me the Romanian 33° and appointed me with the mandate to re-establish the Romanian Supreme Council 33° in exile. Brother Bellu deputized Br. Leonida Vladimir to come to Paris and ask Sovereign Grand Commander of the French Supreme Council of the age: "Bittard", to unleash me of my French oath to be able to serve my country, Romania. The French Commander unleashed me and so, in 1969, it was founded the Supreme Council of Romania in exile. In 1970, Br. Bellu died. After I gave some Brethren the 33°, the Supreme Council of Romania, 33°, in Paris, in exile, was established around me, and among the Brethren 33°: Soneriu, Nicolae Metta, Alex. Romanescu, J. Vittiano, in Paris, Lazar Candrea, Ionel Branisteanu, Attorney Costin (abroad, Lieutenant Grand Commander - Commander, captain of frigate), Constantin Copaciu (former aide of Admiral Pais).

Accompanied by a deputation, we were invited to many reunions of international Supreme Councils: we participated in Brussels, Rome, Geneva, Berlin, Istanbul, we had frequent meetings with statesmen on these occasions, and we pleaded its cause under the Communist yoke. In 1984, I was invited to Washington by the Grand Commander of USA, Southern Jurisdiction, who welcomed me very nicely; I made him a complete report on the situation of Romania. Grand Commander Henri Clausen - judge in the Supreme Court of Justice of USA, perhaps very little informed about Romania, was convinced. Supreme Council of Romania in exile was forced to radiate two of its members (burned between the columns) for "treason". Their names are not listed above.

Romanian Lodges abroad: "Aurora" (Haschahar), the splendid Lodge of Romanian language, I had the honour to receive from them "Honorary Membership" and I'm very proud. The Supreme Council of the State of Israel was founded and led by Br. I. Grassiany, member of the Supreme Council of Romania and a close friend to Br. Bellu; "Sol di Rumania" (Sun of Romania) Lodge founded in Buenos Aires by a Brethren, former diplomat of the Embassy of Argentina in Bucharest, initiated in my Lodge in Bucharest with a French language Ritual, led by Worshipful I. Branisteanu. His name: Federico Fried. We saw each other in 1975. He had the 33° degree, the same as me, we hugged and we both cried. I have correspondence and important papers sent by him from Paris. I rest my case here because it's becoming too long.




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Masonic Forum Magazine - Honorary Commitee:
  1. MW Vladimir Boanta
  2. MW Eugen Ovidiu Chirovici
  3. Ill. Marcel Schapira, 33°
  4. Ill. John Boettjer, 33°
  5. Ill. Richard B. Burgess, 33°
  6. MW Chaim Henry Gehl
  7. MW Klaus Horneffer
  8. MW Alberto Menasche
  9. RW Thomas Jackson
  10. MW Gustavo Raffi
  11. W Trevor Stewart

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