I recently read the book Studies On Traditional Freemasonry by Fabio Venzi. This is a very Traditionalistic book and I wanted to see if that is just the author or if that author is part of some sort of current. Unfortunately it does not seem to be easy to find much information.
Fabio Venzi was born in 1961 in Rome. He is a sociologist who publishes on a variety of subjects. I have not been able to find out when he was initiated, but I do know that since 2001 Venzi has been the Grand Master of the Gran Loggia Regolare d’Italia, or Regular Grand Lodge of Italy.
This organisation appears to be a split-off of the Grande Oriente d’Italia (Grand Orient of Italy). This sounds a bit like Belgian Masonic history, were it not that the Grand Orient of Italy is still regarded “regular” by many Grand Lodges, while others recognise the Regular Grand Lodge.
Be that as it may, the Regular Grand Lodge has about 100 lodges throughout Italy, spread over 13 regions, each with a provincial Grand Lodge. There are also Lodges of Research and Royal Arch and Mark Masters lodges.
At the start of the organisation in 1993, Giuliano di Bernardo has been elected Grand Master (or the other way around: he was the person who left the Grand Orient of Italy with a number of lodges). He kept the function for one and a half term of 6 years. After that, Venzi was elected (2001) and he has been re-elected in 2007 and 2013. His organisation has a bit of a biography on the man. Venzi publishes and lectures frequently, also for international organisations and publications. One of them is the London based Quatuor Coronati study lodge which probably explains how the publisher Lewis Masonic came to publish two of Venzi’s books in English.
The Italian Wikipedia says: “Attualmente tutte le logge della Gran loggia regolare d’Italia adottano il Rituale Emulation”, or “at the moment all lodges of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy work with the Emulation Ritual”, the British ‘lodge of improvement’ Ritual that has been established in 1816. The Regular Grand Lodge of Italy certainly has ‘an British leaning’.
The website of the Regular Grand Lodge contains a few references to Julius Evola. This is mostly because Venzi himself wrote on the subject as a student and later published a book about Evola and Freemasonry. Also there is a lodge called René Guénon and Guénon is referred to a few times on the website, as is “Tradition”. The website mentions a library with a catalogue that features five titles of Guénon, seven of Evola, but also a handful of titles by Schuon, Burckhardt and Lings. Most titles are typically Masonic though.
So how big is Venzi’s influence on the organisation that he has lead since 2001? On the front page it says: “In the project of this website I have been animated by the desire…” (emphasize mine), signed by Venzi. Also a quote of Pico della Mirandola draws the attention, Pico who in Venzi’s book is credited with being one of the starters of esoteric philosophy that would find its way into Freemasonry through the Cambridge Platonists. Other than that, publications listed are mostly of Venzi. If he is not the only, he is certainly the most vocal exponent of Italian regular Freemasonry.
This makes it hard to tell if Traditionalist Freemasonry is actually a current or if Venzi is just an inspired author. Looking through the website of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy, I am often reminded of the subjects and tone of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium. The Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium appears fond of Rites that are even older than Emulation, such as the Rectified Scottish Rite or the Strict Observance, but that (of course) does not make them Traditionalistic. Also I have no idea if the two actually recognise each other, so “current” would definitely be too big a word here.
Interesting nonetheless. I have another book by Venzi on the way and hope to find an opportunity to look into the subject if (possible) contemporary Masonic Traditionalism a little deeper.