In April of 1738, Pope Clement XII issued a papal bull banning Catholics from being Freemasons.
Wishing to mirror Freemasonry but avoid the papal ban, Catholic secret societies sprang up – the most notable of which was known as the “Order of the Pug.”
Little is known about the pug order, believed to have been founded in 1740 in France by the Duke of Bavaria Klemens August and afterwards spreading to the Netherlands and Germany.
First of all, why the pug? The image the pug was supposedly chosen for their canine qualities of loyalty, trust, and steadfastness – all necessary to defy the pope.
In order to become a member of the order, also known as a “Mop” (German for pug), initiates needed to be Catholic. Furthermore, they needed to have “Loyalty, Trust, Discretion, Tenderness, Sweetness, Humanity; in a word, all the qualities that are the basis of love and friendship.”
During their initiation ritual, prospective Mops would have to get down on all fours, don a bronze dog collar, paw and scratch at the entrance to their lodge, then were led around a carpet while barking. The final test? Kissing a porcelain pug on it’s backside underneath the tail to express their complete devotion.
The order lasted barely ten years, although some believe they were still active around the turn of the 20th century in Lyon, France.
An expose entitled “The order of the betrayed Freemasons and the secret of the pug revealed” was written by Catholic abbot Gabriel-Louis-Calabre Pérau in 1745 and likely stymied any significant furthering of the order along with changing attitudes towards Freemasonry in general.
Today some claim to still be members, most likely facetiously given the Order of the Pug’s cute symbol.