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The Taxil hoax was an 1890s hoax of exposure by Léo Taxil intended to mock not only Freemasonry, but also the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to it.
Taxil and Freemasonry
Léo Taxil was the pen name of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, who had been accused earlier of libel regarding a book he wrote called The Secret Loves of Pope Pius IX. On April 20, 1884 Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical, Humanum Genus, that said that the human race was
"separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ... The other is the kingdom of Satan..."
This kingdom was said to be "led on or assisted" by Freemasonry.
After this encyclical, Taxil underwent a public, feigned conversion to Roman Catholicism, and announced his intention of repairing the damage he had done to the true faith.
The first book produced by Taxil after his conversion was a four-volume history of Freemasonry, which contained fictitious eyewitness verifications of their participation in Satanism. With a collaborator who published as "Dr. Karl Hacks," Taxil wrote another book called the Devil in the Nineteenth Century, which introduced a new character, Diana Vaughan, a supposed descendant of the Rosicrucian alchemist Thomas Vaughan. The book contained many implausible tales about her encounters with incarnate demons, one of whom was supposed to have written prophecies on her back with its tail, and another who played the piano in the shape of a crocodile.
Diana was supposedly involved in Satanic freemasonry, but was redeemed when one day she professed admiration for Joan of Arc, at whose name the demons were put to flight. As Diana Vaughan, Taxil published a book called Eucharistic Novena, a collection of prayers which were praised by the Pope.
On April 19, 1897 Taxil called a press conference at which he claimed he would introduce Diana Vaughan to the press. He instead announced that many of his revelations about the Freemasons were fictitious. He thanked the clergy for their assistance in giving publicity to his wild claims.
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