The Confession of Leo Taxil

Le Froundeur, April 25, 1897

Twelve Years Under the Banner of the Church



A Conference held by M. Lo TAXIL
at the Hall of the Geographic Society in Paris

Part 3 of 6


Let's now come to the hoax itself, to this funny as well as instructive hoax. In high quarters, they did not rely upon that good man of a vicar, a priest with a simple soul, to whom I confided how I had been struck by grace, like Saul on the road to Damascus.

"This block covered with flour somehow looks suspicious,"[6] it was thought among the "big hats" of the church. (Laughter)

Accordingly, it was decided that the day after my letter of retraction, they would let me make a good little retreat at the reverend Jesuit fathers' house, and one of the most expert ones in the art of turning over souls and searching them was picked out to take care of me. The choice was not made immediately. They let me wait a good week for the great searcher who was to be my lot.

He turned out to be a former military chaplain who became a Jesuit, a sly one among the sly! His appreciation was to be weighty.

Ah! It was a tough game that the two of us played!... I still have a headache when I think of it.... Among other things, the dear director made me practice the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. I thought little of these exercises, but at least I had to skim through the pages, so as to look as if I had gone deeply into these extraordinary meditations. It was not the right time to be caught.

My general confession let me win the battle. This general confession did not last less than three days. (Prolonged laughter) My last crushing blow came at the end of it.

I said everything, this, that, and other things, but my partner[7] suspected there was a further big sin, very big, very big, which was hard to confess, a sin more painful to come out with than the admission of thousands and thousands of impieties.

At last, it had to come out, this monstrous sin.

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't want to keep you waiting as long as he had to: my big sin was a murder, a first-class murder, one of the best downright assassinations. No, I had not slaughtered an entire family, but without being a Tropmann or a Dumolard,[8] I was good for the guillotine, no doubt, had I been found out.

I had taken care to investigate a few disappearances reported three years before by newspapers, and had imagined a little fairy-tale based upon one of them. But my reverend father didn't let me tell it all in details. He thought me capable of the most dreadful sacrileges, and found grounds to be pleasantly surprised. He did not however expect an assassin at his knees. (New laughter)

When the first words of admission fell from my lips, the reverend father jumped backwards in a most significant way. Ah! Now he understood my embarrassment, my difficulties, my way of discussing certain sins of less significance at such length.... And how ashamed I was when I confessed my crime!... Not only ashamed, but disconcerted, frightened.... A widow was part of the story, the reverend father let me promise that, in an indirect and indeed most ingenious way, I would bestow a rent on my victim's widow.... He did not want to hear any name, but what he was interested in was to know whether I had murdered with or without premeditation. After beating around the bush and falling under the weight of shame, I admitted premeditation, a true ambush.

A churchman: What you are doing right now is abominable, Sir.

Another listener: For your punishment, a priest will never receive your confession. You are an utmost rascal! (Tumult)

Another listener: All priests in this hall ought to leave at once!

Abbott Garnier: No! We must listen the scoundrel to the end! (some people in the audience stand up and leave)

M. Lo Taxil --Whether you leave or not doesn't matter. I proceed....

It is my true duty to pay tribute to this reverend Jesuit father. I never got into troubles with the law. My prank thus allowed me to test the secrecy of confession. If one day I tell the story of these twelve years in details, I will do it just as today, with the strictest impartiality and with calm, Abbot Garnier! (Approval)

The main point at this stage was my first victory in the opening of the battle. Had anyone dared and told the reverend father I was not the most earnest convert, he would have gotten a strong rebuke. (Laughter)


It was not part of my plans to hurry and see the Sovereign Pontiff.[9]

My confession of assassination was indeed a fantastic success; but the director of my retreat at Clamart had kept it secret. Evidently, what else could he tell the hierarchical authority who entrusted him to inspect the depths of my soul, except:

"-Lo Taxil?... I vouch for him!"

Once the mistrust of the Vatican was set aside, how could I make myself agreeable? In order to bring the hoax to the heights I dreamed of and which I had the inexpressible joy to reach, I had to make good a point most cherished by the Holy See within the program of the Church.

This part of my plan was settled from the start, as soon as I decided to inquire into Catholicism.

One year earlier, the Sovereign Pontiff had made himself notorious with the encyclical Humanum Genus, and this encyclical agreed with a well-established idea of the militant Catholics. Gambetta[10] had said, "Clericalism, there is the enemy!" The Church, on the other side, said, "The enemy is Freemasonry!"

Accordingly, slandering Freemasons was the best way to establish the foundations of the colossal prank of which I savored all the suave happiness in advance.

At first, Freemasons were indignant; they did not foresee that the patiently prepared conclusion of the hoax would result in a worldwide outburst of laughter. They actually thought I had joined for good. It was said and repeated that it was a way of avenging myself for having been expelled from my Lodge in 1881, a well-known story which was not in the least dishonorable for me, but the mere consequence of a little row initiated by two men having nowadays disappeared, and disappeared under sad circumstances.

No! I was not avenging myself, I was having fun. And if one examines now the undersides of this campaign, even the Freemasons who were most hostile to me will acknowledge that I did not harm anyone. I would go as far as to say that I did a good turn to French Masonry. (Interruption: You go too far!...) Pardon me, wait until I explain myself, and I am sure you will agree with me. I mean that my publication of the rituals was certainly not irrelevant to reforms which resulted in suppressing outmoded practices which had become ridiculous in the eyes of all masons befriended with the notion of progress.


Let us leave this aside and summarize facts. Since my goal was to invent all the elements of contemporary devilry-which was a good bit stronger than the city under the Lake of Geneva-it was necessary to proceed step by step, foundations had to be set, the egg from which Palladism was to be born had to be laid and incubated. A prank of this size cannot be created in one day. (A voice: Obviously!)

From the first moment of my conversion, I had found out that a certain number of Catholics strongly believed that the name "Grand Architect of the Universe," adopted by Freemasonry to designate the Supreme Being without relating it to the particular way of any specific religion, that this name, as I say, is used in fact to skillfully conceal Master Lucifer or Satan, the devil!

Various voices: --Enough is enough! He has become a freemason again! (Laughter)

Other listeners: --Keep on!... It's interesting.

M. Lo Taxil--Stories are told here and there in which the devil suddenly appeared in a Masonic Lodge and presided over the meeting. This is admitted among Catholics.

More good men than can be imagined believe that the laws of nature are sometimes set aside by good or bad spirits, and even by simple mortals. I was amazed myself to be asked to perform a miracle.

A good canon of Fribourg[11] once dropped by like a hurricane at my house and told me literally:

"-Ah! You, Mister Taxil, you are a saint! Because God rescued you from so deep an abyss, you must have a mountain of graces upon your head [sic]. As soon as I heard of your conversion, I took the train and here I am. On my return, I must be able to say not only that I saw you, but that you performed a miracle in front of me." (Laughter)

I was not expecting such a request.

"-A miracle! I answered: I don't understand you, Mister Canon.

"-Yes, a miracle, he repeated, it does not matter which, just so that I can bear witness to it!... Whatever miracle you wish!... What do I know?... Here, for example.... This chair ... turn it into a cane, an umbrella...." (Prolonged laughter)

I had gotten his point. I gently declined to perform such a wonder. And my Canon returned to Fribourg saying that if I was not performing miracles, it was out of humility.

Several months later, he sent me an gigantic Gruyre cheese on the crust of which he carved pious inscriptions, wild mystic hieroglyphs, with a knife-an excellent cheese by all means, which seemed never to come to an end and which I ate with infinite respect. (Laughter increases. Some Catholic listeners protest.)

Accordingly, my first books on Freemasonry consisted in a mixture of rituals, with short innocent parts inserted, apparently harmlessly interpreted. Each time an obscure passage occurred, I explained it in a way agreeable to Catholics who see Master Lucifer as the supreme grand-master of Freemasons. But only with a touch of suggestion. I was slowly smoothing the field first, in order to plough it later on, and then scatter the mystifying seeds which were to sprout so well.


After two years of this preparatory work, I went to Rome. (A voice: Ah! Here we are!)

Received at first by Cardinals Rampolia and Parocchi, I had the pleasure of hearing them, one as well as the other, tell me my books were perfect. Yes indeed, the books unveiled exactly what was so well known in the Vatican, and it was truly fortunate that a convert published these famous rituals. (Laughter.)

Cardinal Rampolia called me "my dear," thick as thieves. And how much he regretted that I had been only a mere Apprentice in Masonry! But since I succeeded in getting at the rituals, nothing was more legitimate than printing them. He said he could identify therein all his previous readings from documents in the Holy See's possessions. He identified everything, even that which, by my doings, had the same worth as the sharks of Marseilles or the city under the Lake of Geneva. (A voice: Rascal! Scoundrel! Blackguard! Rogue!)

As for Cardinal Parocchi, what interested him most, was the question of Masonic Sisters. My precious revelations had taught him nothing new either. (Murmurs on one side; laughter on the other.)

I had come to Rome unexpected, unaware of the fact that a request for a private audience with the Sovereign Pontiff must be made a long time in advance, but I had the pleasant surprise of not waiting at all, and the Holy Father received me for three quarters of an hour.(A voice: You are a ruffian.)

To win this new game, I had played it safe during the first evening I spent alone with the Cardinal Secretary of State. Evidently, he had been entrusted with my preliminary examination. But the impression I wished to give him was that I was somehow exalted-not quite as much however as the good Canon of Fribourg. (Laughter)

The verbal report which Cardinal Rampolla must have given to the Holy Father granted me the reception I desired.

Since the time of my admission under the banner of the Church, I had convinced myself of a basic truth, namely that one could not become a good author[12] if one does not put oneself in the body of the person one represents, if one does not believe-at least momentarily-that all of it is true. When a scene of despair is played on the stage, tears should not be faked: the third-rate actor wipes dry eyes with his handkerchief; the artist cries actually.

(A voice: Rascal! Rascal!)

Which is why, along the morning before my reception, I filled myself so completely with the situation that I became ready for anything and incapable of flinching despite any kind of surprise.

(Speaker's voice gets momentarily lost in tumult.)

When the Pope asked me:
--My son, what do you wish?

I answered:
--Holy Father, to die at your feet, right now!... This would be my greatest happiness.


A listener: Respect Lo XIII. You have no right to utter his name!

M. Lo Taxil --Smiling, Lo XIII deigned to tell me that my life was still very useful in the fight for faith. Then he touched upon the question of Freemasonry. He owned all my new works in his personal library. He had read them from one end to the other and insisted upon the satanic guidance of the sect.

Having been an Apprentice only, I had great merit to have understood that "the devil is there." And the Sovereign Pontiff stressed on the word devil with an inflection which is easy for me to render. It seems that I can still hear him repeating: "The devil! The devil!"

When I left, I was sure that my plan could be carried out to the end. The important thing was not to stand out any more, once the fruit was ripe.

Now, the tree of contemporary luciferianism began to grow. I gave it all my care for a few more years.... Then I re-wrote one of my books, introducing a palladian ritual in it, allegedly obtained in communication, in fact prettily fabricated by me from beginning to end.

A listener. --And we have to hear that!... It is disgusting!

M. Lo Taxil --Now, Palladism or Luciferian High-Masonry was born. The new book had the most enthusiastic reception, including all the magazines issued by the Fathers of the Society of Jesus.


Translated from Le Frondeur, April 25, 1897


Alain Bernheim, A. William Samii, and Eric Serejski

Reprinted from Heredom
The Transacations of the
Scottish Rite Research Society
vol. 5, 1996, pp. 137-168

(c) 1997 Scottish Rite Research Society
All Rights Reserved
1733 16 St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009-3103

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To Introduction

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