Italian police have videotaped the initiation ceremony of an elite circle within ‘Ndrangheta – La Santa. A translation has been provided by Euronews:
Good evening, and good evening to the “santisti”.
Indeed in this holy evening in the silence of the night under the light of the stars and the splendor of the moon, I form the holy chain, in name of Garibaldi, Mazzini and Lamarmora, with words of humbleness, I form the holy society! Say all together with me: I swear ….to repudiate…altogether up to the seventh generation… all the criminal society that I have recognized so far, in order to defend the honour of my wise brothers! Until yesterday you belonged to the criminal society. As far as “N’drangheta” is concerned up to yesterday you were complete! Now you must take a different path. You must arm yourself. You must repudiate all you knew until yesterday. Here there are two paths….the mountains…the holy mountain..
Today, from now on, you judge by yourself! There are two possibilities: if in your life you fail to do something important, your brothers must not judge you. You must know by yourself that you failed and you must choose the way to follow. The oath of poison!! A pill, there is a pill!!…. Cyanide! ….Or you poison yourself. Or you take this one that shoots. The bullets in the gun.. You must always keep one bullet! That is for you!
If they ask you: “Excuse me, do you know whose son are you? Who is your father? You must answer: My father is the sun. My mother is the moon.”
Invoking the names Garibaldi, Mazzini and La Marmora in the opening is a Masonic reference, as are mention of the stars, the sun and the moon. The rank of santisti, originally “only conferred on no more than thirty-three people,” was instituted as a secret society within a secret society. An innovation from the 1970s, the most important ‘Ndrangheta mafia chiefs decided to implement an occult stage, a secret sect, to “maximize the power and invisibility” of the bosses, the existence of which would only be known by other santisti (Paoli 114). It was intended from the start to allow mafia bosses to join Freemasonry and vice versa, to facilitate more direct influence in civil society, the state and finance. “The very creation of the Santa was greatly influenced by the Freemasonry, with which the ‘Ndrangheta chiefs developed ties during the Reggio Calabria revolt of 1970,” writes Professor Letizia Paoli in Mafia Brotherhoods: Organized Crime, Italian Style (Oxford University Press, 2008).
According to the former chief of the Messina ‘ndrina, Gaetano Costa, Mommo Piromalli “who was famous for being a Mason, or – at any rate – extremely close to the Mason circles . .. introduced the rule … according to which any member of the Santa could join the Masonry”. And indeed, according to another mafia witness, Albanese, “all the santisti were part of the Masonic brotherhood or, at least, the chiefs of the Santa were full members.” (116).
Further evidence of masonic ties elucidated by Paoli is the fact that the ceremony – now confirmed in the video – is opened “’in the name Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Giuseppe La Marmora,’ three major figures of the Italian Freemasonry, who are personified during the same meetings by three santisti” (ibid). And not captured on tape, another initiation ritual – Fidelizzazione – is more overt:
…during the ceremony the officiant asks: “Do you know the family of the Masons?” The novice must answer: “No, but if necessary I embrace it with my skin, flesh and bones, swearing the loyalty asked of me to the family of the holy order of the Masons”. Furthermore, as in Masonic practice, while the new member’s name is communicated to all the existing members, theirs are initially not disclosed to him (ibid).
The creation of the Santa was analogous to the tradition within Italian Freemasonry to set up covered lodges or so-called black lodges (of the P2 variety) as an extra layer of secrecy:
As the pentito Giovanni Gulla points out, “the Santa, as a secret sect, is the exact correspondent of the covered Freemasonry vis-a-vis the official one”. In the same way as the secret lodges were formed in the Freemasonry, the Santa and the higher ranks were created to reinforce protection around the inner core of the association through secrecy. In this way, the Santa and the higher ranks functioned to remedy the ‘Ndrangheta’s traditional low degree of secrecy (ibid).
Indeed, in an arrest warrant of some 500 members during 1990s, prosecutors noted:
The [‘Ndrangheta’s] entrance into previously existing or ad hoc constituted Masonic lodges was the way to establish links with those social strata which traditionally adhered to the Masonry, that is, members of the liberal professions (physicians, lawyers, and notaries), entrepreneurs and politicians, representatives of state institutions, among them magistrates and members of the police forces. Through this link, the ‘Ndrangheta was able to find not only new possibilities for economic investment, but previously unconceived political outlets. Above all, that “covering,” accomplished in various ways and in various levels (diversions, lack of investigations, attacks of every kind to noncompliant magistrates, adjustments of trials, etc.), produced a substantial impunity, characteristic of this criminal organization, rendering it almost “invisible” to institutions, to such an extent that only a couple of years back it came to the attention of the national public opinion and of the most qualified investigative bodies (198-199).
The emergence of ‘Ndrangheta and the Cosa Nostra in the latter half of the 19th century was itself influenced by Masonry, the Carbonari, and the populist spread of insurrectionary secret societies. During the movement for Italian unification (Risorgimento) the nascent mafia’s organizational model was learned from political prisoners, Masons and Carbonari, mixing with traditional gangs in prison. Thereafter, according to historian John Dickie, they would operate as “Freemasonries of Crime.” Paoli highlights this fact as well. The “Fratellanza of Favara,” for instance, “one of the largest nineteenth-century mafia associations with branches in several towns and villages of the Agrigento province”:
… practiced rites and initiation procedures of Masonic derivation, explicitly referring to the “universal republic.” Likewise, the Stoppaglieri of Monreale allegedly used rites of a Masonic type, while its founder, Giuseppe Palmeri from Nicaso, was a member of Mazzini’s revolutionary movement for the independence and unification of Italy, which was also heavily influenced by the Freemasonry. The influence of liberal secret societies upon the formation stages of contemporary mafia associations is also echoed in the legends recounted by today’s mafia members. According to Tommaso Buscetta, for example, the current Cosa Nostra was once known as Carboneria – a clear reference to the liberal secret society bearing the same name (104).
The structure of ‘Ndrangheta is discussed in a UCL lecture by professor John Dickie. The Freemasonry of Crime, it turns out, has a hierarchy not all dissimilar to the 18th Century Bavarian Illuminati. The ‘Ndrangheta have a provincial boss (like Illuminati Provincials), under which there are local branches (Illuminati Prefects and Deans) with members divided into Major and Minor (Illuminatus minor and major) classes of initiates (2:30, 3:10, 4:34; 7:10). The Santa, I suppose could be likened to Regents, and the Senior Ranks, the Areopagites.