Brief History of Puerto Rico Freemasonry.

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  1. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

    from History of freemasonry By Albert Gallatin Mackey, William James Hughan

    page 2206

    Porto Rico

    The early Masonic history of this island is very difficult to trace and clear up, as are all questions relating to the problem of Spanish Freemasonry. In 1860, at Mayaguez, there was in existence a Lodge "Restauracion" under the Grand Orient of Colon. The disturbances in Cuba during the struggle for existence of the Grand Lodges there, had their influence through all the Spanish islands.

    The Provincial Superintendent of Cuba and Porto Rico under the Grand Lodge of Spain (of which Becera was the Grand Master) was Don Manuel Romeno. The Lodges were not named but five were on the roll of the Grand Orient of Spain, without a Provincial Superintendent. "Le Phenix," No. 230, constituted in 1874, was the only Lodge representing the Supreme Council of France.

    At one time the United Grand Lodge of Colon in Cuba had under its jurisdiction fourteen Lodges in the island. These were formed into an Independent Grand Lodge, September 20, 1885. The greatest centres of Masonic activity have been San Juan, Ponce, and Mayaguez, the last-named town having two Lodges, a Consistory of 22°, a Council of 30°, and a Chapter of 18°.

    While the Lodges of Porto Rico severed their connection with the United Grand Lodge of Colon in the island of Cuba, the

    page 2207

    Chapters and other associations of Freemasons in Porto Rico retained their connection with the Supreme Council of that jurisdiction.

    Some explanation of this peculiar situation is shown by the action of Don Antonio Romero Ortiz (at the same time presiding over the Grand Lodge of Spain), who in a decree of March 18, 1888, "denounced the Grand Lodge of Colon and Cuba, and the Freemasons of its Obedience as traitors to the Government and to the Mother Country," because they declined to recognize his authority to govern or interfere in the affairs of "Symbolical Freemasonry" in Cuba.

    The same year, 1888, the United Grand Lodge of Colon and Cuba announced that there being in all three Supreme Councils and three Grand Lodges in Spain, it had recognized the Grand Lodge of Seville as being "the only really independent organization of Craft Freemasonry" then existing in that country.

    This action was an attack upon the Grand Lodge or Grand Orient under Ortiz, which Brother Albert Pike pronounced to be the only Grand, Body in Spain legitimately entitled to recognition as a regular Masonic body. General Pike was then Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, 33rd Degree, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, and the body of which he was the head, being to other Supreme Councils what the Grand Lodge of England is to other Grand Lodges.

    Political affairs in the Island, and the

    influential position held by Ortiz in Spain, rendered his charges likely to subject the Cuban Freemasons to attack by the authorities. At Porto Rico the circumstances were somewhat different. Outside of Cuba the Supreme Council of Colon was long regarded, and not alone by followers of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, as a more stable institution than any other of the many Grand Bodies which sprang up like mushrooms in the Island. Therefore, the two governing bodies at Havana, each in its own way, attempting to solve the problem of Craft control in Spain, it is not surprising that the confusion existing on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean was reproduced with more or less fidelity on the other, in the Spanish Antilles. In Porto Rico there were no less than five Chapters of 18, a Council of 30, and a Consistory of 33 Degrees.

    These adhered to their allegiance. The Lodges on the Island set

    page 2208

    up a Grand Lodge of Porto Rico at the City of Mayaguez in 1885, and the Grand Lodge of Colon and Cuba established fraternal relations with the new body.

    The Grand Lodge of Porto Rico, the Gran Logia Soberana de Puerto Rico, was founded by the Grand Lodge of Cuba on December 20, 1885, and was instituted as a provincial body, a Province or District, on October 11, 1884. There were in 1918 about 2000 members under its jurisdiction with 42 Lodges and a Masonic Circle. The Grand Master of that year, Brother Dr. W. F. Lippet, served in the United States Army during the Great War. All Porto-Rican Lodges were reported as conducting their work in the Spanish language, except "St. John Baptist," No. 12, which adhered to American practices and the English language.

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