How Freemasonry United Italy
By Mirella Ionta
Opinion » Columnists
If masonic activity was necessary to undermine the power of the papal state which was believed to hinder the process of unification in Italy is not a thesis that is easy to develop. The insufficient documentation that exists at our disposal limits our understanding of such concealed masonic encounters, marking a great disservice to the pursuit of truth. From what is available for public scrutiny no one can confirm with certainty that the Italian underground was solely based on a genuine patriotic desire to unite Italy. Declarations of the masons' mysterious inclination toward Satanism and occultism render the society's activities suspicious. Moreover, the involvement of united Italy's official national poet, Giosue Carducci, in an established masonic allegiance, helped shape a new literary tradition, tainted by radical convictions. Providing a cultural and literary rhetoric for the secret society, the poem "Ode to Satan" is a perfect reflection of "New World Order" visions which were interpreted as being serious threats to the Old World Order. The pope's reaction to the masonry, whose doctrine of NWO spirituality may have inspired the early poetic sensibility of Carducci, discloses the serious implication the clandestine operation was deemed to have had on a changing Italian society.
Today, with the benefit of hindsight, stating that a secret society composed of a tight group of the powerful gentry was responsible for world wars, political divisions, global Ponzi schemes, economic crashes, and 9/11, would not be considered as being highly speculative or unlikely. Even in risorgimentale Italy, Pope Pius IX, in an effort to preserve his absolute power, realized the harmful effects such a society would have on the supremacy and duration of his reign. Lilith Mahmud, a researcher published by the University of California, concedes that the practice of discretion was what made and what still makes the society detrimental to more transparent, legitimate processes. She quotes Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt when describing the nature of the fraternity: "Those who think that the secret of Freemasonry consists in signs or words are sadly mistaken. The secret is actually a lived experience, and thus it is only a secret insofar as it is incommunicable in human words."
Modelled after religions that assigned certain rituals, symbols, temples, and statues as being sacred and transcendental, the exclusive society heavily depended and still depends on these elements to legitimize their collective world vision and aspirations. They also developed an ability to identify other fellow members outside the confines of their "sacred" temples. Such distinct symbols as the compass in a square and pendants shaped as a pelican or a star were assigned to represent the organization. Calculated gestures, handshakes, nods, and styles of dress were all established to serve as features that would allow members to recognize each other in ordinary environments. Born in London, in the 18th century, Freemasonry was inspired by the enlightenment idea of "rationality." With human reason, Freemasons believed in their power to affect and change the political and historical events of the times. In Italy, the construction of masonic lodges in the 19th century coincided with other nationalist conspiratorial associations such as the Carboneria, who were in favor of developing Italian nationalism, creating a constitutional monarchy, and eradicating absolutism.
This brings a person to ask a million dollar question: Was the existence of secret societies necessary to build the nation-state of Italy? Discovering that an underground society, which deviates from the norms of the state and challenges decisions made by the current ruling command holding the population in disregard, launches a concerted effort to oppose the unjust state of affairs may offer some relief to the oppressed. However, this coercive way to incite change in society or to develop a cultural identitymay not be the right solution to existing or future political and social dilemmas.
It would be a naive oversimplification to assume that the secret society, under a mandate issued to itself, could singlehandedly protect the population from ambitious sovereigns of both the state and the church. Questions regarding how they were funded and if their vision was in line with that of the majority of the population who were not members keep arising when discussing the "possible" legitimacy of the group. Citizens will not likely be patriotic toward a nation-state that is built on ideals and values that are not shared among and approved by the majority of its citizens. Since the majority of people are out of the exclusive circle of secrecy, it would be difficult for them to identify with and understand masonic practices, even if they were to be based on a patriotic agenda. By the mere principle of exclusion, a population is left in the dark regarding the fate of the territory that is shared. Apart from the reality of secrecy, what concerned the Vatican the most was that Satanism was openly and proudly practiced as a form of spirituality by Freemasons.
Considering inhabitants of Italy believed in one Christian God throughout many centuries before the Risorgimento period, they would find it hard to digest that a crucial period in their cultural history, which had been largely shaped by Christian principles, was assembled together under a demoniac spell casted by freemasons. According to Enrico Nassi's book on freemasonry, freemasons believed in ideologies and "rhetoric that kept people divided" (24). From the Pope's perspective, Satanism was not a legitimate premise on which any society that wanted to penetrate the political, economic, and social systems should depend. However, for important intellectuals like Cavour, who was one of the main leaders of the Risorgimento movement, the strategic support from a secret lobby was not only deemed crucial to the success of the nationalists' project, but was sought after so that it would be efficient and successful.
Militarily, while Giuseppe Garibaldi and his thousand men army established a revolutionary government in central and southern Italy at the beginning of the early 1860s and declared Victor Emmanuel as king of a united nation, Carducci was writing his blasphemous anti-clerical poem. As Garibaldi failed during many occasions to liberate Rome from the clutches of papal absolutism, which was preventing these regions from taking part in the unification, Carducci's poem was published, first in 1865 and then in 1869. As the eternal city was only liberated when the French garrison pulled their defence of it to invest in France's war against Prussia in 1870, giving Italians the chance to reclaim their city, Carducci was writing his first works during a time when republican, anti-clerical sentiment was high. Providing a cultural rhetoric to support and fuel a political agenda, Carducci first read the poem as a toast at a masonic dinner party. A resource concedes that even the most liberal of republicans seated among his masonic fellowship were uncomfortable with Carducci's radical way of opposing the Pope. It is important to keep in mind that Satan was chosen by the poet to symbolize modern progress because of his intimidating, evil, and powerful status.
As the clergy experiences great discomfort with any mention of Satan, trying throughout their holy lives to ward off his evil ways with exorcist oils, the poet calls upon the devil to challenge the old-fashioned mentality of retrogrades. Satan is a hero for modern Italy because he is not easily influenced or easy to control. He rebelled against the word of God as Lucifer and built his own dominion over which he rules as king. However, beyond his biblical role, Carducci gives Beelzebub a leading part in Italian history as he comes to represent sensuality, beauty, liberty, pleasure, joy, intellectual innovation, and technological progress. In addition, he symbolizes the qualities of fearlessness and ferocity that Italy should gain moving forward into the future. It should not regress with old traditions and papal absolutism, but should break free from the chains of limited thought. The symbol stands for liberty of thought and the poet's radical way to impose it on a repressed population.
Since the church was guilty of exporting propaganda and violence to the Americas and of oppressing its followers throughout many centuries, any credibility it still may have had, had finally been defeated by human reason. Incarnating Reason, Beelzebub leads the modern nation that was formerly plagued by the sentimentality and irrationality of the church. There is a certain vulgarity about Satan that serves as shock value, too. Clearly with the intention of instigating the Church into reacting to his poem, the poet refers to many intellectuals in the religious sphere who were considered heretics and were executed by the Church for following a rational pattern of thinking. Among these rebels, Martin Luther is listed, a historical figure whose doubts about the authenticity of the Catholic Church led him to found what is known today as the Protestant religion. The poem ends with the image of the steam engine, an invention of the devil, promising Italy prosperity, defeating the backwardness of the Church, carrying the united nation into the modern world, and leaving behind a trail of steam to cloud its Christian past so that it would fall into oblivion. Satan, the active rebel with his own personal agenda, was used as a tool to provoke conservative minds into thinking about Italy's future in a modern world.
Could the legacy of Carducci have existed if he were not affiliated with masonry? Carducci himself found his alliance with masonry necessary to prove his love for his homeland, to push the nationalist agenda, and to undermine the power of the clergy. He was not discreet with his belief that the Christian establishment served as an obstacle for the consolidation of the divided Italian regions. If the question "Was it necessary for masonic society to exist in order to unite Italy?" was posed to him, Carducci would have probably responded "yes." Carducci was initiated in the Loggia Galvani of Bologna and also became a member of Propaganda, another masonic lodge in Rome in 1886. However Angelo Martelli's book reveals that in many letters Carducci discloses his faith in the existence of God and that masonic membership did not demand an obligatory renunciation of one's religion from birth.
Contrary to other records on admissions to the masonic society, Martelli expresses that the mason was free to practice any religion he pleased. Because of its scandalous nature, the book theorizes that Carducci's bold symbol of Satan to represent progress overshadows any traditional religious beliefs he may have had, especially toward the end of his life. Pope Pius IX, certainly felt that the dominion of Christ had been attacked by masonic projects. In an encyclical dated 1867, the Pope expressed his concerns for the rising anti-Christian sentiment , urging his fellow brothers "to grieve at the evil abominations which now defile unhappy Italy."
This stands as proof that the masonic association was a powerful force in Italian society. He addressed the evil powers that destroy the providence of the Church: "By the efforts of many, particularly those who hold power in Italy, the venerable commands of God and the sacred laws of the Church are completely despised." He refers to those in power as "the rebels of God," the men who walk in impiety and fight under the standard of Satan." Defiling the word of God, they are compared to "ravening wolves panting after their prey, they spill blood and destroy souls with their grievous scandal." The Pope deemed the situation as threatening to the centralization of the Church: "They plan to raise the standard of lies in this beloved city of Ours, before the very Chair of Peter, the center of Catholic truth and unity." A successor to Pope Pius IX, Pope Leon XIII also addressed and condemned masonry throughout his administration. He opposed credos and practices that were allegedly related to freemasonry such as naturalism and extreme secularism (a state that does recognize or is not modelled after God's word).
Just like the Vatican may have been an obstacle in the political unification of Italy according to the freemasons, radical beliefs and practices of the secret society can also be seen as an obstacle hindering the spiritual unification and growth of a Christian population. If it is indeed true that the poet was not able, even in his later life, to transcend any resentment he felt toward the Catholic institution or the political situation of his times in order to finally accept the infinite love of God, then his intellectual efforts to unite Italy were based on power and provocation, instead of on sincere love for the people of his nation. Any campaign for political unity that is launched by a poet, secret society, or an elected politician should not be a derivative of internal spiritual chaos. Since masonic activities were hinged on political motivations and toxic feelings, the New World Order, controlled by secret societies and corrupt secular governments would not serve as a good substitute for Papal absolutism, which had proven itself to be equally dreggy.