aNCieNT & PRiMiTiVe RiTe oF MeMPHiS-MiSRaiM: HiSToRY


The Masonic Order of the Ancient and Primitive Rite
of Memphis-Misraim

Rite of Memphis

Before 1721, when it was mentioned for the first time, there was, in Narbonne, a Rite called “of Narbonne”.

It was the heir of two currents coming from the Egyptian and Rosicrucian past. Egyptian by the “Order of African Architects” (referring to Egyptians) and Rosicrucian by the “Brothers of the Golden Rosy-Cross” or from Asia (in reality EASIE which are the initials of Eques A Sancti Johannis Evangelistae).

This Rite had almost disappeared when, in 1779, it was restored in its primitive strength by the Marquis of Chefdebien on the model of the Rite of the Philalethes and took the name of Primitive Rite of the Philalethes or the Primitive Rite of Narbonne.

In 1798, officers of the army of Bonaparte, all members of the Grand Orient of France and disciples of the Rite of Narbonne, in mission in Egypt, got in touch with initiates of Sufism and Druzes initiatory Colleges of Lebanon.

They decided to give up the relationship with the Grand Lodge of England and to create a new Rite.

Thus was born the Lodge “Disciples of Memphis’ in Cairo, following the tradition of the Rite of Narbonne.

Samuel Honis, initiated at this Lodge, came back to France in 1814 and installed in Montauban, on May 23, 1815, a branch of the Lodge “Disciples of Memphis” which became the Mother-Lodge of the Rite of Memphis.

January 21, 1816 : MARCONIS DE NEGRE is elected Great Hierophant.
March 23, 1838 : Creation in Paris of the Lodge “OSIRIS”.
May 21, 1838 : Creation in Brussels of the Lodge “LA BIENFAISANCE” (Charity).
June 17, 1841 : Prohibition by the Prefect of Police of Paris after a denunciation for republican activities.
March 5, 1848: Authorization to resume Works.

Grand National Lodges then took roots in different countries, particularly in Romania, in the United States of America, in Egypt, in Australia, in England where it was officially settled in the Freemason’s Hall of London on June 4, 1872.

Rite of Misraim

This rite appears (or rather reappears) in Venice in 1788. It is then one of the most ancient in France.

A group of Socinians (protestant anti-Trinitarian sect) received their Constitution document from Cagliostro. He initiated them the three first degrees of Freemasonry which he had himself regularly received from the United Grand Lodge of England. He also conferred upon them the High Degrees of the Germanic Templar Freemasonry, which he also had regularly received.

The Rite swarmed quickly in Italy and appeared in France with the Bedarride brothers who, from 1810 to 1813, developed this Rite with success, almost under the protection of the Scottish Rite.


The Rite of Misraim maintained close links with the Carbonarii of which it became a nursery and the refuge.

Approximateley fifty Lodges were founded in Holland, in France and in Scotland.

In 1818 were published in Brussels The General Statutes of the Order of Misraim for the Netherlands.

There were then already lodges in Anvers, Mons, Courtrai and Brussels.

In 1829, the Rite was introduced in Scotland and Ireland.

In 1822, it was denounced to the police as an “Enemy of the State, of the Altar and of the Throne”, but the police was not able to prohibit its existence.

However, violently anti-clerical documents were found during a search by the police at the home of Brother Vehrnes in Montpellier, on January 18, 1823, and the Rite was then prohibited.

It resumed its activities in 1838, was prohibited again in 1841 and finally restored in 1848.

Rite of Memphis-Misraim

Shortly after its installation in England (June 4, 1872), the Grand Lodge of Memphis of this country named General Garibaldi honorary member and relations were immediately established with the Supreme Scottish Supreme Council of Sicily and the Grand Orient of Egypt.


On October 26, 1876, the National Grand Orient of Egypt (Rite of Memphis) conferred to the Very Illustrious Brother Garibaldi the title of Grand Master ad vitam.

Under his Grand Mastership, in 1881, after many discussions, were merged the Rites of Memphis and of Misraim, which had in many countries the same High Dignitary.

This merger was made official in Naples in 1899 and took the name of the “Ancient and Primitive Oriental Rite of Memphis-Misraim”.

Garibaldi was often designated as the “real citizen of the World” and defined as the “Knight of Humanity”. He was above all a “gatherer” esteemed for his sincere abnegation, his integrity and his courage.

He had a great dream, “The United-States of Europe”.

He preached unity between men and was convinced of the necessity to fight “for Humanity and Freedom in general”.

Unshakable opponent of the roman Church, he requested the separation of the Church and the State. He wanted to introduce the free, secular and compulsory education by suppressing the religious congregation; however, he refused atheism, indifference and “miserable materialism”. Victor Hugo wrote about him, “Garibaldi, who is Garibaldi? He is a man, nothing more. But a man in all the sublime acceptation of the word. A man of liberty, a man of humanity.”

We should also indicate, for the history of the Rite, that in 1925, as a result of the political situation and the attitude of the fascist government, the Rite became dormant in Italy.

During all the 1940-1945 war , the Most Honorable Past Grand Worldwide Master of Honor Robert Ambelain, continued to run clandestinely in his home the Lodge” Alexandria of Egypt”.

Robert Ambelain

Meetings also were held in Belgium and initiations were conferred as much in the Blue Lodges as in the Higher Degrees.

But, as other Obediences, the Order of Memphis-Misraim also had to pay its tribute. On March 24, 1944, Constant Chevillon, Most Honorable Gand Master of the Rite for France, was shot by Vichy’s militia.

On April 20, 1945, Brother Georges Delaive, Most Honorable Grand Master of the Rite for Belgium, died beheaded with an axe in the Brunswick prison yard. Other freemasons also died on the fields, victim of their Masonic ideal and their patriotism.

Thanks to these illustrious Freemasons and to the actual Grand Master, the Rite of Memphis-Misraim perpetuates its traditions of fidelity to the principles of fraternity and to the initiatory sciences.


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