The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...

masonic matters

Angelo Solimon

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz; Malcolm X

“The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race.” Brother Booker T. Washington

The night before I began writing this was the weekly date-night for my wife and me. Because of where we went for the evening we got back late, just in time for the 10 O’clock news. (There was a time when 10 O’clock wasn’t late for us, but now it is.) There was a very short item on the news about the “Body World’ exhibit that is coming to the Twin Cities. You may have heard of this exhibit, but last night was the first I heard of it.

This exhibit uses preserved human cadavers artistically posed as though in every-day situations, such as giving a talk, playing chess and other poses. The show also includes transparent body slices to show the difference between healthy and unhealthy organs, tissue etc. The process of doing this has something to do with preserving cadavers with plastic and was developed by a German Doctor and Inventor. For the study of anatomy, medicine, or to learn something more about the human body this exhibit is of value.

A while ago I had bought a book called “Mozart and Masonry;” I began reading the book after Sharon and I returned from our ‘date night.’ It is a good book, and in reading it I noticed a name I had heard before, and I new just a little bit about the history of this Brother. A passage in the book talked about Zur wahren Eintracht (“True Harmony Lodge,”) and the Masons who were members of it. The year referred to had Brother Ignaz von Born as the Master of the Lodge, and it is said there were a large number of other important intellectuals who were members of the Lodge.

As members it listed some intellectuals, scholars, a Catholic priest, professors, teachers, a sculptor, physician, engraver, famous members, and a physicist. Finally it mentioned “Of considerable importance also was Angelo Solimon, the ‘Noble Negro,’ an African Prince who played an important part in the social life of Vienna and his never missing from the roll of the Lodge.”

When I read that name, Angelo Solimon, I immediately remembered why I knew his name, and I also had a flash in my memory of the news story I saw a couple of hours earlier about those cadavers posed in life like scenes. Once you hear the story of Brother Angelo Solimon, (if you don’t know his story already,) I’m certain you’ll never forget it, or his name. The story of his life and what happened to his body after his death is something macabre and stays in a person’s memory.

Angelo Solimon was a free man who lived in Vienna; he was married and had a family.[i] Brother Solimon and his wife were married in St. Stephen's Cathedral, which is the same church where Brother Mozart and his wife Constanze were married. Mozart’s Second degree of Freemasonry was conducted in True Harmony Lodge where Brother Solimon was a member, and there are references in existing Lodge record books, kept over the years, which indicate that Brother Angelo Soliman and Brother Wolfgang Mozart frequently sat in Lodge together.

While Brother Solimon was a free man with a wife and family living a good and happy life in Vienna his life wasn’t always pleasant. Our Brother was born in North Africa in, what is believed, the early part of the 18th century. He was sold into slavery as a child, transported to Europe and educated by a succession of wealthy European slave-owners, and as a result he tutored the children of many aristocratic families in Vienna. He was finally freed after many years in slavery after which he married, eventually taking the degrees of Freemasonry, and over the years he became Master of his Lodge.[ii] This to me points out one of the main qualifications of a petitioner; that he be a free man – free to make his own decisions, to enter into agreements and free to follow through on promises.

It is said that Brother Solimon was a brilliant Chess Player, and a valued member of his Lodge. Before World War II there was in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, and still may be there today, portraits of our Brother Angelo Solimon, his daughter, and grandson; Baron Edward von Feuchtersleben.[iii]

The information and succession of the Emperors in Austria, referred to in the book, ‘Mozart and Masonry’ is both interesting and shocking at the same time. After the death of Emperor Joseph and his brother Leopold who succeeded him, and also after Brother Mozart died, the Austrian Empire was under the ‘infamous rule’ of Emperor Franz I. It appears that he really wasn’t a very nice person, and it was as the patron of Metternich that Franz I presided over the imprisonment of our Brother the Marquis de Lafayette. Franz I also presided over the trials and executions of some of the republicans in Mozart's circle.[iv]

However, even if Franz I had been a nice person in all his dealings with others, and if he had never imprisoned or executed anyone as emperor, what he did to Brother Angelo Solimon and his family would put him in the notorious bad person category, as far as I’m concerned, forever.

At the death of our Brother Soliman the emperor, for some unknown but speculated reason, ordered Brother Solimon’s body seized and taken from his family while they were mourning, and before they could bury it. The Archbishop of Vienna,[v] Brother Masons and his family all protested, but their protests went unheeded and unanswered. The emperor evidently had the power to do what he wanted to do without answering to anyone.

Emperor Franz I then had the body of Brother Angelo Soliman ‘flayed,’ stuffed and mounted; much as some people today will do with the carcasses of birds, fish and animals taken in hunting and fishing trips, and then the emperor had this work of taxidermy ‘proudly’ displayed among his trophies.

Brother Angelo Solimon’s stuffed effigy remained in the emperor’s museum until the Austrian Revolution of 1848. During the revolution, in a battle at and for the emperor’s palace a soldier threw a ‘grenade’ through a window and into the palace library & museum; as luck would have it landed near the effigy of Brother Solimon, and it was mercifully destroyed.[vi]

Some may rightly say, as Brother Benjamin Franklin did, that when the body no longer serves what it was intended for it is a kind and beneficent favor that there is a means to dispose of it, and that way is death. We know that our body is really just a home for our soul, our real self while we live here on earth and that after death we will be taken to our eternal home by The Great Architect of the Universe.

However, it is my opinion that the body of a human being should be treated with respect. The body we see may not be the soul, the character, the real person we love and admire, but it is the symbol of all that the person really is. When we think of those we love; our spouse, children, parents, siblings, Lodge Brothers and friends, we see in our minds eye the image of them, the symbol of what we have come to recognize and love. So that is to me just one more reason that what Franz I did was wrong.

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz; Malcolm X

From the Great light of Masonry = “And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds.” 2 Samuel 3:39

[i] He married Frau Von Christiani, widow of a Dutch general
[iii] Estonian Institute
[v] Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Vienna

back to top

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014