The first Masonic Lodge to operate in Greece, was established in 1782, Corfu which, at the time was under Venetian rule. The name of the Lodge was “Beneficenza”, and it operated under the auspice of the Grand Lodge of Verona, based in Padova, Italy. During the same period, diaspora Greeks, started establishing Lodges in Greece and abroad, while in 1780 a para-masonic society was established in Vienna, under the name “Beneficient Cousins”. This society followed Masonic ritual, and aimed to unify all Christians in Balkan countries, fighting to become liberated from Ottoman occupation. Greek National Hero and Poet Rigas Feraios was actually a member of this society.
Later, in 1810, Dionisios Romas united “Agathoergia” and “Philogeneia” Lodges, in a joined Lodge, which constituted the first Grand Lodge in the Greek vicinity, named “Serene Grand Orient of Greece, in the Orient of Corfu, 1811”. This first Greek Grand Lodge, not only cultivated grounds for liberation of Greece, but also, under Dionisios Romas, took decisions with immense impact on the Greek strife for independence. This seniority is in turn awarded to the Grand Lodge of Greece, as it is the most senior among Regular Grand Lodges in Greece.
In the following years Greek Freemasonry flourished in the Ionian Islands, contributing greatly to the Greek uprising. A Lefkadan Lodge named “Enosis”, proved to be of historical importance, as Emmanuel Xanthos was initiated there, and subsequently was inspired to form the “Filiki Etaireia” (Society of Friends), which was greatly influenced by masonic values and structure. Among numerous freemasons who were at the forefront of the Greek Revolution in 1821, were the renown Paleon Patron Germanos, The Ecumenical Patriarch and martyr Gregorius V, Theodoros Kolokotronis, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, Alexandros and Nikolaos Ypsilantis, Alexandros Mourouzis, Ioannis Kapodistrias etc.
By initiative of the “Grand Orient” under the Grand Mastership of Dionisios Romas, and through the collaboration of Ioannis Kapodistrias and Alexandros Mavrokordatos, “Phoenix” Lodge was consecrated in Moscow, in 1811, and furthermore offered a great deal in favor of the Greek fight for independence. “Athena” Lodge was consecrated in Paris, and “”Etaireia ton Filomouson” Lodge, was consecrated in Vienna and Athens, operated by mason-patriots, who later became members of “Filiki Etaireia”.
In 1813, Ioannis Kapodistrias officiated at the establishment of a masonic center in Paris, named “Ellinogloson Ksenodocheion” (Greek Speaking Hotel), where masonic labors were combined with preparation for the Liberation of Greece. Athanasios Tsakalof was initiated there, who after his return to Moscow, in turn initiated Nikolaos Skoufas. That very year, Ath. Tsakalof, and N. Skoufas, along with Emmanuel Xanthos, while in Odessa, Russia, set the basis for the consecration of a “secret society”, aiming to liberate Greece from Ottoman occupation. Hence, on September 14, 1814, the “Filiki Etaireia” was established, initiating numerous Greek patriots – both masons and non-masons alike – who actively participated, both with material, as well as moral means for the liberation of the Nation. During the same period, several masonic Lodges offered money in support of this sacred cause.
In a historical text on Filiki Etaireia, Ioannis Philemon states: “The founders borrowed several rules from the Society of the Masons, and applied these to the spirit and the strife of the Nation”.
In 1843 the Serene Grand Orient ceased to operate, but twenty years later, in 1863, a Regular Lodge, named “Panhellinion: was consecrated, approved, and under the auspice of the Grand Orient Of Italy. Later, several more regular lodges were established: “Poseidonia” in Piraeus, “Skoufas” in Chalkis, “Archimides” in Patras, “Paides Leonidou” in Syros, “Rigas Ferraios” in Lamia, “Proodos” in Argos, etc.
The seven aforementioned Lodges united in 1864, and requested from the Grand Orient of Italy, permission to establish an independent Grand Orient of Greece, but the Grand Orient of Italy denied them, allowing instead the formation of the Supreme, Masonic Directorate in Athens, presided by brn. Dimitrios Mavrokordatos (Minister), Spilios Antonopoulos (Minister), and Nikolaos Damaskinos (University Professor). On April 10, 1967, following a second request by Greek masons, the Grand Orient of Italy, announced the formation of the autonomous masonic entity, named “The Grand Orient of Greece”, based in Athens, which after a reformation of Masonic Constitutions in 1936, was renamed as the “Grand Lodge of Greece”.
After peace was restored with the end of World War II, Greek Freemasonry reformed, and gradually developed a high spiritual level. In this framework, the Grand Lodge of Greece continued to publish the masonic magazine “Pythagoras”, which was first published in 1882. This magazine includes articles of masonic, and philosophical interest, and is distributed free of charge twice a year to all regular members of the Grand Lodge of Greece. Since 1994, it has also been published in English, and sent to all Regular Lodges the Grand Lodge of Greece has amicable relations with.
Additionally, open events are being organized in the Grand Lodge of Greece, in the form of panel tables with distinguished speakers, both masons, and non-masons, specializing on subjects of cultural, scientific and social interest. These events are held at the Athens Freemasons’ Hall, and are open for participation to non-masons as well.
Greek Masons, under the auspice of the Grand Lodge of Greece, have for two centuries now, conducted considerable charity work, silently contributing to the moral and cultural alleviation of the Greek society. Among the most considerable post-WWII contributions by Greek Masons, are the establishment and operation of Middle-school night-schools: “Melis” and “Phoenix” and the establishment of the orphanage “Theomitor”. Also, well-known masons of the time, actively participated in the establishment and operation of the “Hellenic Cancer Society” in 1958, which has greatly contributed in the fight against cancer, and later on the “SOS Association” for the protection of autistic children.
Also the majestic work of Masons Alexandros Tzazopoulos, and Georgios Katsafados, includes the creation and operation of a “House of Hospitality and Treatment of Patients”, for cancer patients from the periphery, who were unable to pay for their stay and treatment in the country’s two major cancer clinics “Agios Savvas” and “Metaxas”. Ο This House was in time extended in a new building complex, was equipped and manned with doctors and nurses, and operated as the unified Cancer Hospital “Agioi Anargyroi” until 1986, when it was integrated in the National Health Service, and operated as the General Prefectural Oncological Hospital of K. Kifisia.
The Grand Lodge of Greece, through the philanthropic Masonic Institution, supported financially exclusively by its members, continues to pursue major projects aiming to Relieve those in need.