[NOTE: This is not our home lodge but is a lodge that one of our brethen has visited. Our lodge is located in the San Francisco Bay Area.On a recent trip to NYC, I decided to ping Brother Michael C., with whom I share memberships in research societies and lodges. Being a brother from NYC, he quickly inquired around and found out the French Lodge L’Union Francaise 17 was meeting during a night I was free.]
L’Union Francaise has a very rich history (founded in 1773 and chartered in NY in 1797) that can be found on their website at:
Bro Michael made the necessary contact and next thing I know, we were invited by the equivalent of District Inspectors (District Deputy Grand Master). Since I arrived a bit in advance, I decided to visit the library. There, beside discovering they have a massive list of masonic books, all kept in a secure, temperature controlled room, I saw some very emotionally charged object such as these French masonic jewels recovered from the Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin by GIs and Brethren. The brethren who were the rightful owners of these had probably died in the end of the ruthless criminal Nazi regime. I also saw one of the rare numbered copies of the Processus Contra Templarios, the book published in 2007 from the secret archives of the Vatican and that mostly show that the Templars were originally declared innocent by the Inquisition before the pope, under pressure from the King of France reversed that original ruling. The proceedings were then sealed in secrecy for more than 700 years.
Finally, time arrived when I presented myself to the members of L’UF17. There I was received and quickly vouched by the District Deputy GM who knew about my visit but also about the “standard” paperwork from the GL of California. Each and every one of the brethren shake my hand with a big smile saying they were happy to have a visitor from the West. That night, in addition to brother Michael and I, another brother from the GLNF in France was visiting.
Then, the calendar of events that night was communicated. Stated meeting AND 3 second degrees. In my mind, this was going to be a long evening. When the meeting started, WM Alan B. decided to invite me to a seat in the East (the perk of being an Inspector). From there, I had a partially obstructed view of the floor and thought it will be hard to fully see the degrees. However, to my surprise, and also feeling honored and privileged, they decided that the 3 visitors will be the guide for each candidate at the 2nd degree. This was truly unplanned and not knowing at all the ritual for NY, I have to say I was a bit reluctant. I figure that Brother Michael will guide us. However, as he said before we started, he wasn’t sure the French ritual was the same (and it wasn’t! J).
But here we were. Ready to go and follow the Senior Deacon. With solemn dignity, we guided our candidates through the peregrination of the travel. My worries of not being to see the degree from the East were gone. I was part of the degree and on the front row. The Senior Deacon delivered a superb staircase lecture and we concluded the evening with the customary greetings and salutations and the chain of the union.
After the meeting, we went for a magnificent agape at the Bar Breton http://barbreton.com/which I recommend to anyone visiting New York.
The evening concluded with Brother Michael going out of his way to drive me back to my hotel. In the car, we talked about some of our masonic research projects and how difficult it is sometimes to stay on track. A great evening in the Big Apple.
Submitted by Wor. Sebastien Taveau, P.M.