From the Wise Master (May, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 2:37 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 2:37 PM ]
In searching for a topic for this month’s column, I asked our General Secretary for a suggestion. He suggested Cinco de Mayo.
OK, I admit I never thought of that as a Masonic topic. It turns out that it’s quite relevant though.
In 1861, Benito Juarez stopped making interest payments to countries that Mexico owed money to. In response, France attacked Mexico to force payment of this debt. France was successful at first in its invasion; however, on May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, Mexican forces were able to defeat an attack by the larger French army. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French advance on Mexico City. A year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico on the throne of Mexico in 1864. The French, under pressure from the United States, eventually withdrew in 1866-1867. Maximilian was deposed by President Benito Juarez and executed, five years after the Battle of Puebla.
Benito Pablo Juárez Garcia was a Zapotec Amerindian who served five terms as president of Mexico (1858-1872.) The presence of Juarez in Freemasonry is unarguable, though historical data varies. History suggests that he was initiated in either the city of Mexico or Oaxaca. In either case, he probably was initiated under the jurisdiction of The National Mexican Rite. Those who believe that he was initiated in the city of Mexico set the date at January 15, 1847 in Independence Lodge Number 2. Those who believe the location was Oaxaca set the date as somewhere during 1833 or 1834 and postulate that it was in a Lodge of the York Rite known as Mirror of Virtues, one of the many lodges instituted by the Grand National Lodge of Mexico in 1824.
The Mexican Masonic Historian/Scholar Don Rafael Zayas Enriquez, asserts that indeed the event took place in Mexico city, and to that effect he states:Juarez was a Francmason that belonged to the Mexican National Rite, and in which he attained the Ninth Degree, equivalent to the 33rd of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. He was so fervently devoted to his Masonic Practices and Principles that his name is now used with much veneration in all the rituals, and many lodges and philosophical bodies have adopted it as a sacred symbol.
So even if you’re not Mexican, feel free to celebrate on Cinco de Mayo and share yet another accomplishment of our fraternity.

Bryant Day
Wise Master