ISSUE 17, April 2006
Editorial
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Mauritius has several constitutions, some of which are not in amity with the United Grand Lodge of England. Being a small island, it follows that Masons, sometimes from the same family, may belong to different constitutions.
    For this reason, although they do not visit one another’s Lodge, nevertheless they meet socially. Once a month they have a lunch under the umbrella of Dodo 50, a gathering that exhibits the ideology of fraternity as a common denominator. I was invited to such a lunch. Nothing Masonic is discussed, but speeches of topical interests are encouraged.
    As the attendees consist of distinguished members of the community – and ladies are occasionally invited – the tone of the assembly is both stimulating and educational.
    After the lunch, I was invited to visit the Samuel Barbé Museum, which is in the Loge La Triple Espérance. The latter is under the banner of the Grand Orient de France, but of course was in amity with us previous to the 1877 modification of the Constitution by France. The Lodge became dormant in the 1950s and a few brethren from various constitutions met to revive it.
    When it came to choose whether it should be French or English constitutionally, the vote was a draw. It was Samuel Barbé, a pharmacist and friend of my family who had originally encouraged me to become a Freemason, who made the casting vote.
    Loge La Triple Espérance is the oldest Lodge on the island and dates from 1778.
    It was interesting to see relics, paintings etc of our past brethren on display, including the portrait of Lord Moira who, in 1813, as the Deputy Grand Master of the UGLE and Governor-General of India, visited the newly captured colony.
    Also among the portraits is that of Sir Robert Farquhar, a Freemason and the first Governor of Mauritius following its capture by Britain in 1810. Some months earlier, in a minor naval skirmish – the Battle of Grand Port – which is recorded at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, both the French and English commanders were seriously wounded.
    The nearby elegant house of Jean de Robillard was turned into a hospital where Rear-Admiral Victore Duperre and Admiral Sir Nesbit Willoughby convalesced alongside each other and shook hands, symbolising the beginning of an entente cordiale. Later it was found that they were both Freemasons.
    Today, the house is a naval museum and contains portraits of both men.
    In all, the museum and the rebirth of Loge La Triple Espérance typify what can be achieved when brethren have determination and conviction, just as with the dogged persistence of establishing the Grand Lodge that has taken some hundred years in the founding.
    When I asked the MW Grand Master what was in the pipeline for future development, he said: “Mauritius is destined to play an outstanding role in the development of Freemasonry both within the neighbouring francophone group of countries which includes Madagascar, Reunion, Commoros, Seychelles, Rodrigues and the Anglophone countries including South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand.
    “Mauritius, by the diversity of its Masonic culture and its unique geographical position, almost in the centre of the Indian ocean, is an enviable situation to bring together the Lodges and Grand Lodges of the region. Mauritians are trilingual with English and French as common languages.
    “Our society is multi-racial, pluriethnical and multi-religious. Our Lodges practice no less than eight different Rites: Emulation, York, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Scottish Rectified Rite, Scottish Standard, Irish Standard, Modern French Rite and Egyptian Rite. In the name of the Great Architect of the Universe, we unite Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists in prayers.
    “From that perspective, I think we are unique in the world and I foresee Mauritius as a showcase of the universality of Freemasonry for the world. We are hoping to increase our membership by twofold in five years and have a Grand Temple. As you see we are a little Grand Lodge with great ambitions. We are also pragmatic and know that to succeed we need to work hard”.
    The Grand Lodge of Mauritius is a new venture, but it is rooted in the bond of friendship not only fraternally, but that which exists between the multi-cultural people who inhabit the island. Giant strides have already been taken along the way.
    I can only urge anyone who may be going to the island, and has the opportunity, through the proper channels, to visit and experience the hand of friendship themselves.



The Phoenix Masonic Hall, Mauritius


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