Garibaldi entered Freemasonry during his exile, taking advantage of the asylum the lodges offered to political refugees from European countries governed by despotic regimes. At the age of thirty-seven, during 1844, Garibaldi was initiated in the “L’Asil de la Vertud” Lodge of Montevideo. This was an irregular lodge under a Brazilian Freemasonry not recognized by the main international masonic obediences, such as the United Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Orient de France. While Garibaldi had little use for masonic rituals, he was an active Freemason and regarded Freemasonry as a network uniting progressive men as brothers both within nations and as members of a global community. Garibaldi was eventually elected as the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy. Garibaldi later regularized his position in 1844, joining the lodge “Les Amis de la Patrie” of Montevideo under the Grand Orient of France.
Giuseppe Garibaldi was born 4 July 1807 in Nice. He was an Italian general, politician and nationalist who played a large role in the history of Italy. He is considered one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland” along with Camillo Bens, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Giuseppe Mazzini.
Garibaldi has been called the “Hero of the Two Worlds” because of his military enterprises in Brazil, Uruguay and Europe. He personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the Italian unification. Garibaldi was appointed general by the provisional government of Milan in 1848, General of the Roman Republic in 1849 by the Minister of War, and led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II. His last military campaign took place during the Franco-Prussian War as commander of the Army of the Vosges.
Garibaldi was very popular in Italy and abroad, aided by exceptional international media coverage at the time. Many of the greatest intellectuals of his time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and George Sand, showered him with admiration. The United Kingdom and the United States helped him a great deal, offering him financial and military support in difficult circumstances. In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts worn by his volunteers, the Garibaldini, in lieu of a uniform.
On his deathbed, Garibaldi asked for his bed to be moved to where he could gaze at the emerald and sapphire sea. Upon his death on 2 June 1882 at the age of almost 75, his wishes for a simple funeral and cremation were not respected. He was buried in his farm on the island of Caprera alongside his last wife and some of his children.
In 2012, it was announced that Garibaldi’s remains would be exhumed to allow descendants to confirm through DNA analysis that the remains in the tomb are indeed those of Garibaldi. It was anticipated that there would be a debate about whether to preserve the remains or to grant his final wish for a simple cremation. The plans for exhumation were sidelined by 2013 as “there was a change of administration and the new authorities at the Ministry of Culture” were “less than enthusiastic” to proceed with the plan