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Freemasons admit first woman

France's masonic order has finally admitted women to membership after 277 years

CONTINENTAL Europe’s oldest masonic order, the Grand Orient de France, has finally admitted women to membership, 277 years after it was founded.

The move, which comes after decades of campaigning, allows women to become sisters of the brotherhood but the final decision on individual cases will be left to each of the country’s 1,500 lodges.

It comes after a near-split in franc-maçonnerie ranks last autumn when several lodges walked out of the annual meeting in protest after a vote returned 56% of lodges against allowing women to enter the organisation. Some lodges had already adopted women through informal initiations sauvages.

Grand master Pierre Lambicchi then called an internal commission, the Chambre Suprême de Justice Maçonnique, to rule on the matter and it said the rulebook did not ban women. The new rule comes into immediate effect.

The Women’s Grand Lodge Of France is the main women’s order and there is a mixed order known as Le Droit Humain.

English merchants started the first masonic lodges in France in Dunkirk and Mons in 1721.

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