History of Foederis Arca Lodge

The following is an extract from the official history of the lodge published shortly after their move to the Grand Lodge of China.

The history of the founding of Lodge Foederis Arca in 1873.

by V:. W:. Bro:. Bruno Roussel

 

A human project lives on the meeting of men who pool their energy and their faith.

In the beginning…

On March 10th 2003, a Yahoo group called “Groupeasie”, a Masonic internet community independent of any Grand Lodge was created by Bros.: Christophe Bringuier and Bruno Roussel.  Quickly going viral, more than 150 Francophone brethren from a great variety of Grand Lodges, but all living and working in Asia were to join this group.  This group was to eventually allow the Grand Inspector of the National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF) for Asia Pacific, T.R. Bro.: Jacques Parot to connect with many of the brethren that would ultimately become Founding Members for the re-birth of Lodge Foederis Arca.

So it was that since 2004, four French brothers and members of Lodges across Asia started meeting in Shanghai to explore the possibility of trying to establish a French-speaking lodge.  Bros.: Claude Jaeck and Bruno Roussel (both initiated in Hong Kong in the Corintian Lodge of Amoy, No. 1806 E.C.), Bro.: Laurent Solomon (initiated in Harmony Lodge, No. 10 of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of China in Taipei) and Bro.: Henri Depardieu (initiated in Loge Ad Lucem, No. 859 in the Orient of Rueil Malmaison, G:.L:.N:.F:.) and also a member of Harmony Lodge, No. 10 in Taipei.  These four became the catalyst to gather together enough Francophone brethren throughout Asia that might  be interested in supporting such a project.  Throughout the process, they found strong practical and philosophical support from TR Bro.: Jacques Parot as well as TV Bro.: Christophe Glachant.

The planning name of this Lodge was Aurore de Shanghai in tribute to the famous French Jesuit University of Shanghai called “L’Aurore” and founded in 1903.  The idea was further confirmed during a visit of PGM GLNF Claude Charbonniaud.  The resolve of the planning brethren was further strengthened when on April 23rd, 2005, they met at the occasion of the Consecration of Hoasen Lodge “Lumiere d’Asie” No. 1503 in the Orient of Ho Chi Men Ville G:.L:.N:.F:.  Also in attendance that day would be future founding brethren Eric Audras-Guite, Stephane Benoist, Claude Jaeck, Thierry Huret and the Venerable Brother designate, Bruno Roussel.

But such are the plans of mice and men.  Whilst the G:.L:.N:.F:. had set December 5th, 2005 as the date for the consecration of Loge L’Aurore de Shanghai in the Temple in Paris, events started to unfold in a completely unforeseen direction.

In the hubble-bubble of events starting in the Spring of 2005, Bro. Claude Jaeck continued with his quiet research and was intrigued to find mention of French speaking lodges in Shanghai in the latter 19th centrury in that great tome of Asian Masonry “The Craft in the East” by C. Haffner.  Brother Claude’s diligence was rewarded in May 2005, when he uncovered the textural evidence of a Loge in the archives of the Bilbiotheque National de Paris : Loge Foederis Arca, which had indeed been founded in Shanghai in 1873.

Consecration of the R:.L:. Foederis Arca No. 1524 in the Orient of Shanghai of the G:.L:.N:.F:.

It was the apparent end of a long chain of fortune when twenty-two enthusiastic and determined brethren joined hands in the formidable adventure of bringing this R:.L:. back to life.

A majority of the founding members of Foederis Arca made arrangements to be present for the Consecration of the Lodge that took place in the Pisan Grand Temple in Paris on December 1st, 2005, just a few days before the 2005 Annual Communications of the G:.L:.N:.F:.  The consecration work was directed by the M:.W:.G:.M:. Jean-Charles Folellner himself assisted by an impressive number of Grand Officers, the M:.W:.G:.M:. Claude Chabonniaud and the V:.W:.B:. Jean Dugenny and Claude Dohou.

Among the foreign dignitaries attending the consecration were M:.W:.G:.M:. Tsao Go Shen and his Immediate Past Grand Master M:.W:.P:.W:.G:.M:. Norman L. Y. Pin.  G:.L:.N:.F:. officers V:.W:.B:. Claude Harris and Roger Tonelli, both normally residing in Thailand also attended this event, and by their presence; once more renewed the overwhelming support of the brethren living in Thailand to our consecrated lodge.

During his consecration speech, the Grand Master M:.W:.G:.M:. Jean-Charles Foellner reiterated the fact that R:.L:. Foederis Arca would be handed over to the legitimate and Regular Grand Lodge that one day would have jurisdiction over China.  In the meantime, it would be in Bangkok that the Lodge would hold their regular meetings as Thailand has always welcomed French Freemasonry and already counted a number of existing G:.L:.N:.F:. Lodges.

A number of memorable Festive Boards were organized around this historic consecration that will remain in the memories of those brethren and visitors from the Far East.  Two Chinese characters were chosen to signify the deep roots the Lodge has in China and more particularly Shanghai.  Qi – character associated with Shanghai and Dawn.

Transfer to the Grand Lodge of China – 2012

The turbulent events that have shaken the G:.L:.N:.F:. since 2010 also deeply affected the brethren in Asia and a point of no return was reached when more and more Grand Lodges withdrew their recognition and broke off relations with the G:.L:.N:.F:.

Heavy-handed suspension and expulsion decrees were issued against the National and Provincial Grand officers, among which was TRF Jacque Parot, in total disregard of our fraternal values and the Twelve Points Rule.  The outraged brethren were filled with shame and despair at the sight of what was considered destructive work by the Grand Master, who first among all, had the sacred duty to bring together and lead the way to wisdom, harmony and reason.

The R:.L:. Foederis Arca, could no longer remain insensitive to these painful events that threatened the very foundations of its values.  The Lodge’s very survival was at stake.  Re-born into the G:.L:.N:.F:. from the forgotten ashes of the past, Foederis Arca was from its inception, clearly destined to be handed over to the Grand Lodge, which would eventually have jurisdiction over China.

The rebirth of our lodge must primarily be attributed to the determination of a diverse group of brethren, all initiated and recognized and regular Grand Lodges across Asia and elsewhere.  These brethren are all strongly committed to the values of regularity shared by the vast majority of Masons around the world.  Recognition of the GLNF was finally withdrawn by the UGLE in September 2012; regularity denied.  WIthout recognition and regularity, our Lodge could no longer meet and work in Taipei, where the Grand Lodge of China had welcomed us with simplicity and fraternity since 2009.  A vital decision that would determine the future of the Lodge had to be taken.  As in 1873, when the found brethren had to relinquish the Lodge into darkness in order to save one of their own, the brethren of today had to save the Lodge by leaving the GLNF where its continued existence was once more seriously endangered.

On the recommendation of the Committee of Elders, the brethren of the Lodge voted unanimously in favor of leaving the roll of the GLNF and to petition for admittance to the Grand Lodge of China.  They were welcomed with dignity and fraternity.

The first stated and official meeting under the dispensation of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of China took place in its Taipei Temple on March 24th, 2012 with M:. W:. G:. M:. Martin Teng and his delegation in attendance to offically hand over the “Dispensation” thus officially announcing the founding of the R:. L:. Foederis ARca on the roll of the Grand Lodge of China with the number 18; which will be attributed to this Lodge during its re-consecration in 2013.