Special ceremonies were held to officially welcome the new members. There were two types of Carbonari: apprentices and masters. No apprentice could advance to the rank of master within six months. Members communicated with one another using secret signs in shaking hands. These master and apprentice signs were unusual. True, one of the underlying principles of the society was that the “good brotherhood” was founded on religion and virtue; however, by this was meant a purely natural conception of religion, and the mention of religion was strictly forbidden. In reality, the organization was hostile to the Church, even though on their symbol, one finds the cross.But with the cross, there are other religious symbols which, like Freemasonry, show the unification of various religions together, where only one deity is revered and that one deity, is not Christ. Nonetheless, St. Theobald was revered as their patron saint.

The members of each separate district formed a vendita, which was named after the place of assembly. The Alta Vendita was at the helm, and deputies were chosen from the other vendites. A master was identified by a small hatchet, while apprentices were identified by a small fagot worn in the button-hole. Initiation into the society was accompanied by special ceremonies that, in the case of receiving the grade of master, imitated the Passion of Christ in a blasphemous manner. The members were sworn to silence about whatever happened in the vendita by a terrifying oath. The Carbonari secret society and Freemasonry share many similarities.

Freemasons could become masters of the Carbonari at the same time. The Carbonari’s openly stated goal was political: they wanted to establish a constitutional monarchy or a republic and defend the rights of the people against all forms of absolutism. They did not hesitate to achieve their goals through assassination and armed revolt. The society was widespread in Neapolitan territory as early as the first years of the nineteenth century, particularly in Abruzzi and Calabria. Not only low-born men, but also high-ranking government officials, officers, and even members of the clergy became part of it.

Kirsch, J.P. (1908). Carbonari. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 16, 2023 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03330c.htm

Kirsch, Johann Peter. “Carbonari.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 16 Jul. 2023 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03330c.htm>.


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