Order of the Pug: Catholic Secret Society Initiates Wore Dog Collars
Secret societies are characterized by rituals, customs, and teachings that are concealed from the general public. It is no wonder the 18th century secret society known as The Order of the Pug kept their rituals a secret – its members were forced to crawl around on all fours and kiss a pug dog’s backside to show their loyalty and commitment!
It was 1738 AD, and freemasonry had just been established some two decades earlier. Pope Clement XII saw this highly secretive brotherhood as a threat to Catholicism and so he issued a papal bull, In Eminenti Apostolatus Specula , in which he banned Roman Catholics from joining the Masons under threat of excommunication.
In order to bypass the Papal Bull of Clement XII, an aristocratic gentleman by the name of Clemens August of Bavaria, the Elector of Cologne, founded a secret society called Mopsorden (‘The Order of the Pug’). In essence, members were Freemasons who had adjusted the format to be able to conduct their now forbidden activities, the primary difference being that it allowed female Catholics to become members.
The pug dog was selected as the group’s secret symbol due to the breed’s loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadiness, and members called themselves Mops (German for Pug). The Master, of course, was known as the Grand Pug.
Initiates to the order were required to wear a brass dog collar, a symbol for a dog’s servitude towards its master, and had to get down on all fours and scratch at the door of the lodge like a dog in order to gain entry. They were then blindfolded and led around a symbol-filled carpet nine times, while the ‘Mops’ barked loudly and yelled Memento mori (‘Remember you shall die’).
To complete the initiation ceremony, the blindfolded candidate was required to kiss a pug’s backside as an expression of loyalty (in reality, a porcelain pug dog).
Reception of a Lady into the Order of the Pug, she is seen kissing the dog’s backside. ( Public Domain )
In 1745, the secretive order and its flouting of Catholic law was exposed by a Catholic abbot with his publication of L’Ordre des francs-maçons trahi et le secret des Mopses révélé (‘The order of the betrayed Freemasons and the secret of the pug revealed’). The Order of the Pug was promptly banned, though rumors suggest members were continuing their secretive pug activities in Lyon, France as late as 1902.
Top image: Portrait of Aristocrat Pug Dog. By [email protected] / Adobe Stock
By Joanna Gillan