Freemasonry in Canary Islands

by Manuel de Paz

Canary Freemasonry can be considered as the pioneer in the context of the Order in Spain. Certainly, its definitive implantation would take place, as it happened in the rest of the Spanish Empire and, in general, in the Latin countries as a whole, because of the vigilance and persecution of the Holy Office, but in the Canary Islands they took place some events that, due to their relevance, confer a peculiar stamp on the history of Canarian masonry.

We refer in a special way to the first inquisitorial process in Spain and one of the first in the Christian Orb, by a Tribunal of the Inquisition, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, against a Catholic accused of belonging to Freemasonry, Irishman, Alexander French Linch, initiated in Boston and denounced as such, in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, in 1739, by his countryman Patricio Roch, as he said he had seen “with the badge or badge used by such company, which It is a little devil of little trunks tied to the waist, which falls near the knees by the front of the body “(mandil), shade that carried” in one hand a palette and in the other a spoon, insignia of the pedrero, which is the meaning in our Spanish language of the words free masons or free pedrero, and adds that it seems that such are sworn to each other, not to discover the secret of the end to which your company is directed.

The display of the insignia, in fact, was considered by the Tribunal of the Holy Office as a sinful boldness on French part, but the lack of antecedents, the illness that contracted during his retention in Las Palmas (1740-1742) and, ultimately , his willingness to collaborate with his judges led him to acquit the crime of heresy, since as a subject of the Church he had enlisted in a brotherhood where impious oaths were held to keep a mysterious secret, and where people from different beliefs and opinions, with the following confusion regarding the doctrinal and dogmatic principles of the Holy Mother Church.

The intolerance of the time, highlighted in the interrogations of the ecclesiastical judges, contrasts with the resigned attitude of French, who, with total sincerity, declared that, in the lodge, he had sat “beside the elder brother, who He warned and said that the rules that were to be observed by the brothers of that brotherhood, were the following: Do not swear or dispute religion, laws and kings because these disputes raise bad blood and quarrels and noises, because the brotherhood only want friendship and love of brothers, helping and helping each other as much as possible without harm of their own, and the brothers speaking well of each other, both in absence and presence. “


Los Comendadores del Teide

The foundation of “the Scottish lodge of San Juan” known by the Commanders of the Teide, took place, in fact on December 16, 1816, under the patronage of the Count of San Lorenzo, according to references of the time. About this workshop are preserved few documents, among them the most important is the logical picture of May 20, 1817, which allows us to elucidate the importance of its members: Diego de Tolosa, Pablo Franchi Alfaro, Antonio Álvarez Rafael Guezala, Vicente Ortiz , José Guezala, Juan de Megliorini, Manuel Álvarez, Nicolás Massieu, José Sanson, Matías del Castillo, Antonio Primo de Rivera, Gilberto Stuart Bruce, José Crosa and Domingo Madán.

These are men linked to the military, trade and local political activity.

On April 30, 1820, the lodge requested the auspices of the Grande Orient of France, although its request, despite being well recommended by a sister shop in Paris, was not attended to with diligence, so, in fact, the Tenerife lodge it became a kind of provisional workshop, in that it did not enjoy the recognition of any regular or irregular Masonic obedience or power.

From the Masonic point of view, the lodge experienced other changes during these dates. In 1822, judging by the late testimony of 1870 of another of its probable members, surely the Santa Cruz merchant Pedro Bernardo Forstall, Marco Aurelio, the workshop had changed from its old name to the Friendship, and had obtained the auspices of the Grande Oriente of France, but, the following year, it was placed under the obedience of a newborn Grand Orient of Spain.


The 1870s can be considered, from the point of view of the implementation and development of Freemasonry in the Canaries, certainly prodigious for two reasons. First of all by the erection of masonic workshops in four of the seven main islands of the Archipelago, and, secondly, by the number and quality of the freemasons that make them up.

The first thing that must be taken into account is that the vast majority of these lodges belonged to the obedience of the United Great Lusitanian Kingdom, based in Lisbon. It is an obedience or foreign Masonic power that, nevertheless, had a great importance in all the Spanish State between 1869 and 1878. The explanation of this phenomenon lies in the shortcomings of those, at that time, suffered the Spanish Freemasonry, and, hence, the need that Masons of the time had for seeking the legal protection of the closest Masonic organization or power for national and international recognition, by obtaining the mandatory Letter of Letter or Constituent Charter.

The revolution of September 1868, therefore, laid the foundations for a political opening that allowed the workshops to survive, officially legalized, however, as cultural societies, until the definitive legal recognition, obtained at the beginning of 1889, of a Spanish obedience, the Great National Orient of Spain, by means of its inscription in the Register of Associations of the Government.

Thus, the first lodge that was founded in the Canary Islands during this time was the Gran Fortunato Afortunada, to which the Grande Oriente Lusitano Unido scored in its registry with number 36. This lodge was installed on May 14, 1870. In addition, The workshop published its own press organ, La Fortunate, one of the best examples of Masonic journalism in the Canary Islands, as will be said later.

On October 28, 1870, under the same obedience, he granted his auspices in Santa Cruz de Tenerife to a new workshop, the Teide Lodge, with the number 53, presided over the founding assembly, a veteran of Freemasonry, the José Sierra of Tenerife, whose 32nd grade of the Old and Accepted Scottish Rite had been conferred on March 16, 1865, by a lodge in Santiago de Cuba.

In the beginning of 1874, the necessary steps were taken to raise columns of the Taoro Lodge, which was registered by the Grande Oriente Lusitano Unido with the number 90.

Also in this same year of 1874 a Patent Letter was requested to Lisbon, to legalize in La Laguna the workshop Nueva Era with the number 93, whose document was granted to them at the end of November of that same year.

In 1875, the Freemasons of Santa Cruz de Tenerife promoted the foundation in the same capital of a new lodge, which was registered with the number 94 in the Lusitanian obedience and was called Hijos del Teide.

In that same year of 1875, a new workshop began in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Nirvana, number 96, belonging to the same Portuguese obedience.

Precisely, the foundation of the last Masonic workshop of Lusitanian obedience in Tenerife, Tenerife Lodge No. 114, was held on November 1, 1877, this lodge will have a remarkable development from 1878 and, at the beginning of the decade of 1880, published an interesting masonic magazine.

In the Valley of La Orotava was also erected, but at the beginning of 1876, a new lodge under the obedience of the Grande Oriente Lusitano Unido, Esperanza de Orotava, No. 103, located in Puerto de la Cruz.

In 1875, in Sta. Cruz de La Palma, in January, Abora No. 91 of the Lusitanian obedience was installed.

To the founding of the workshop palmero followed, a new lodge this time in Arrecife of Lanzarote, with the name Atlántida No. 92, I raise columns in the spring of 1875, thanks to the management of the leaders of Teide No. 53, under the auspices of the Portuguese obedience.

On the other hand, apart from the Portuguese obedience workshops, there was also a lodge in Tenerife, between 1873 and 1874, which under the name of Masonic Faith, No. 91, developed its activity under the auspices of the Great East of Spain.

Between 1870 and 1878, the Canarian masonry was integrated by eleven lodges, including Masonic Faith, with a total of about 250 members, great majority belonging to the Portuguese obedience, but the Canary masons in general and those of the rest of the Spanish State, did not communicate with the constitutional reforms that, in an attack of Portuguese patriotism, introduced the leaders of the Great Lusitanian Kingdom United in its reformed Constitution.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was a decree of the Grand Master, for whom the new Constitution of obedience was ordered to swear, this new Constitution was undoubtedly damaging a series of rights of the Spanish lodges, both from the Masonic point of view as from a profane perspective, for that reason, the reaction of the Canarian workshops did not wait.

Among the provisions of the new statutory rule highlighted, as especially offensive, those that circumscribed the position of Grand Master to freemasons born in Portugal, the obligation to celebrate by all workshops of obedience on December 1 as Independence Day From Portugal. In November 1878, Nirvaria No. 96, Teide No. 53, Children of Teide No. 94 distanced themselves from Portuguese obedience, the crisis was also felt with all strength in the rest of the workshops throughout the Archipelago. A whole flourishing era of Canarian masonry had just feared.


From 1879, the freemasons of Santa Cruz de Tenerife were divided into two lodges, on the one hand Tenerife No. 114, which, with the rigorous constitutional exceptions, decided to continue under the obedience of the United Lusitanian Great East, and, on the other hand, the Teide Lodge that, after its separation from the aforesaid power, adhered to the Masonic Confederation of the Congress of Seville and, later, to the Grand Lodge Symbolic Independent Spanish, with the number 17 of its records.

The Freemasons of La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz, on the other hand, also swelled the ranks of the Masonic Confederation of Seville and, later, of the Symbolic Spanish Independent Grand Lodge. The impact of the Masonic constitutional crisis, among other factors, however, reduced the ranks of Taoro and Esperanza de Orotava, so that, at the end of 1880, both workshops began the process of merger, and, starting from In 1881, they decided to adopt the name of the first, with the number 9 of the records of the new Spanish obedience.

The members of the Lodge Abora number 91 of Santa Cruz de la Palma, in turn, resumed, after a breakthrough, their relations with the Great Lusitanian Kingdom United, under whose obedience they remained, although going through some economic difficulties, until 1900 , year in which the lodge could no longer resist the impact of another relevant crisis, but of a general nature, the War of Independence of Cuba, “whose disastrous consequences affect the wealth and trade of this island in an extraordinary way”, as he affirmed, at the beginning of 1899, his last Venerable, Juan Henríquez Hernández.

The foundation of a lodge that with the name of Idafe, obtained the patent letter of the Grande Oriente Español, which granted it, in 1891, No. 124 of its records, and lasted on the palm island until 1896.

The freemasons of Arrecife, for their part, remained in pairo until 1880, after their separation from Lisbon, and placed their provisional works under the auspices of the Great Architect of the Universe. They were not decided, like their brothers of Tenerife, by the Symbolic Spanish Independent Grand Lodge, however in 1882 the freemasons of Lanzarote decided to replace the march under the auspices of the Serenissimo Grand Orient of Spain, erecting a new lodge called Timanfaya Nº 199 ; A few years later, in 1886, the Jupiter lodge number 208 was founded in Arrecife, under the auspices of the Great National Orient of Spain, which lasted until 1889.

Finally, the Freemasonry of Gran Canaria presents, throughout the last third of the nineteenth century, an evolution in which there are periods of boom or stability and others of crisis or discouragement, at times when the freemasons of Las Palmas left hear their voice through the press and the discourse, during the Democratic Sexenio. The Fortunate Lodge No. 36 continued under the auspices of the United Great Lusitanian Kingdom until 1887, until it decided to put an end to its relationship with the Great Lusitanian Kingdom, because of new tax claims and, above all, the threats of the obedience lusa to declare irregular to all workshops that had “official relations with those sponsored by Spanish Orients”, therefore initiated the procedures to get the protection of an educated Spanish obedience.

During 1888, then, the freemasons of Las Palmas supported the process of unification of Spanish Freemasonry led by Miguel Morayta Sagrario and, at the end of this year, they began to swell the ranks of what would be, from now on, an outstanding organization of the Spanish Freemasonry, the Spanish Grand Orient, born from the former National Grand Orient of Spain and the Grand Orient of Spain. The Fortunate Lodge was registered with the number 5 in the new obedience, under which it lasted until 1896.

On the other hand, Fortunate No. 5, also sponsored, from February 1895, the founding of a new lodge in the Port of La Luz in the city of Las Palmas, which received the name of Luz Marítima No. 226, under obedience , as is logical, of the Spanish Grand Orient.

There also existed in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, at least nominally and during the 1890s, two workshops under the obedience of the Spanish Symbolic Grand Lodge of the Ancient and Early Primitive Rites of Memphis and Mizraim. The first of these lodges entitled Gran Canaria No. 93, according to a patent letter of May 1892, had been erected by José Sebastián Navarro, Manuel Benavides and Béthencourt and Sebastián Hernández Bernal. While the second lodge of the Eastern Rite, founded at the end of 1893, it seems that it had expansive pretensions, because it was named Honorable Grand Provincial Lodge of the Canary Islands, being its main leaders and, perhaps, its only members Juan Moreno and Serrano, Manuel González de Azafra and Anselmo Utrera and Espino.

The masonry of the twentieth century can be said to begin, in fact, in 1895, because this year saw the foundation, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, of the most important Masonic workshop of the nineteenth century, the Añaza Lodge, Añaza was consolidated very soon and its evolution It was only truncated by the military insurrection of July 18, 1936. Not only did he build the best Masonic temple in Spain, built on a site acquired by the lodge in San Lucas street in Santa Cruz de Tenerife from 1899, which still rises, majestically and symbolically, as an example of the insular architectural eclecticism “and that at the moment it continues being Military Pharmacy Depot, after being seized by the government of Franco”, but, in addition, maintained a school during many years and reorganized around he, to the Canarian masonry of the first third of the 20th century.

Its foundation and, above all, its permanence in crucial moments such as the last years of the 19th century, can be explained, at least in part, because it was placed under the auspices of a second-order Spanish obedience, the Grande Oriente Ibérico, that remained unit until 1902, this Great Iberian East had arisen, in fact, in 1892, from a group of lodges coming, in its majority, from the Great National Orient of Spain of Vizconde de Ros that, by diverse circumstances they decided not group around the Spanish Grand Orient of Morayta.
The founding of the santacrucero workshop was carried out, then, on August 8, 1895, and in 1903, in the face of doubts about the true importance of the Iberian Great East, they decided to change auspices, which occurred, without major traumas, in that same year, going to swell the ranks with the number 270 of the renewed Spanish Grande Orient, Añaza 270 lasted under this obedience, in a first period, until 1922, between 1923 and 1931 during the Second Republic, the lodge was divided in two, Añaza 1 and Añaza 270, the latter is hooked again to the Grand Symbolic Federal Council of the Spanish Grand Orient, while Añaza No. 1, which had a smaller number of members were expelled from the temple and nothing was worth their claims to the profane authorities.
With respect to Gran Canaria, the freemasons of the Puerto de la Luz also built their temple although they never saw the light, it was in León y Castillo street, today an abandoned house with conflicts of inheritance, founded, in 1900, a Lodge with the name of Prince of Wales, No. 1, obviously irregular, but that, in March 1901, got the auspices of the Iberian Grand Orient, which registered it with the number 129 and with the name of Prince of Wales, which it alluded obviously to the deep British influence in the Island, came to count on 34 active members, in 1902 collapsed columns, in June of 1903 it was renamed Fortunate No. 5, under the obedience of the Spanish Grand Orient. Between 1903 and 1905, the latter year when the attempt to resuscitate the workshop dean of Las Palmas, Fortunate No. 5, collapsed, it had a fairly limited number of members.
In fact, twelve Freemasons of Las Palmas of which eleven had belonged to the extinct Fortunate No. 5, decided, at the end of 1905, to erect a workshop with the name of Atlantis, which was immediately recognized by the Grande Oriente Español and registered with the number 285Some years will pass before Las Palmas Freemasonry again raise columns with possibilities of survival. This fact took place in November of 1922, with the foundation in Las Palmas of the Andamana lodge for eight masons of which seven had belonged, until that moment, to the Añaza de Santa Cruz de Tenerife lodge.
The foundation of Acacia No. 4, in the Port of La Luz, in turn, had in March 1932, and in that same month obtained the mandatory Letter of the Grand Lodge of the Canary Islands.
Thus, during the 1920s and until the proclamation of the Second Republic, the Canary Freemasons carried out a process of unity that reached its apogee with the constitution of the Canary Islands Grand Lodge. The moment was not the most appropriate, because under the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, Freemasonry could not find an adequate political environment for the development of its progressive ideals.
Between July 18 and 19, 1936, the premises of the Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife lodges were occupied. The Masonic Temple of Añaza would pass, as already said at the hands of the Government and would be converted into a Military Pharmacy Depot. In turn, the house that served as a meeting place to the Abora No. 2 lodge in Santa Cruz de La Palma, was subject to the excesses of the sailors of the gunboat “Canalejas” on the 25th of the same month. Las Palmas lodges , on the other hand, were “completely undone” on July 18, although part of the documentation and equipment was later sent to the Delegation of Special Services of Salamanca.
On July 19th, the archives and property of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife lodges were also seized.
Also, during these years, the denunciations and the anonymous against Masons were not lacking
Canary Freemasonry could not be reorganized until after the proclamation of our current democratic Constitution, when Spanish Freemasonry was finally legalized.
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