‘La Garduña’ arose in Spain. From the mid-fifteenth to the nineteenth century, this secret organization was the pioneer of many other criminal societies that have sprouted throughout history. It is no coincidence that the Neapolitan Camorra was born in a time when Naples and its territories belonged to the Spanish Crown.
Admission rites, passwords, esoteric symbols, gestures of recognition, secret societies own initiation, were all part of ‘La Garduña’. Notably, the symbol of recognition was three dots tattooed on the palm of the hand. This symbol became the Italian Camorra’s symbol and at the same time, is the heritage of other societies such as Freemasons.
The Brotherhood of ‘La Garduña’ was probably founded in Toledo. They spread terror through various bands that attacked and robbed the homes of the "Moors" and Jews; they were acting out the dirty work of the Inquisition.
Men and Women coexisted in ‘La Garduña’, each occupying different "offices" or degrees under different names and among the learned were the informers and coverts that were engaged in spying and hoarding information. Candidates collected taxes, clear history of tax called "protection". Also heads of provinces were called overseers, teachers or elders, were responsible for the initiation of new recruits and the top was the Grand Master, the absolute power of the organization.
‘La Garduña’, it is said they created the Cosa Nostra in the United States, operating with almost total impunity, including its affiliates and partners had governors, judges, mayors and even prison directors.
Throughout their career ‘La Garduña’ was disguised as a religious order, thus assuming a divine right to steal and murder. Like all esoteric societies of the time, ‘La Garduña’ apparently had written documents or statutes, through the initiation and subsequent elevations of grade, were communicating to their members the secret words, the hints and signs of recognition. The betrayal of these unwritten rules, they paid with their life, knowing that some fraternity members were executed for having acted without the permission of their teachers.
Their last Grand Master wrote the ledger called heroic tone which told upon the misdeeds carried out. This black history book full of kidnappings, robberies and murders, was discovered in 1821 at the home of Grand Master Alfonso Cortina.
As a result of this finding they were tried and executed in the Plaza Mayor of Seville, November 25, 1822 The Grand Master, his lieutenants and other’s recognized. What happened next and where they derived this secret society is a mystery, but by tracing the various criminal secret societies such as the Camorra, the Mafia or the Caribbean Piracy and many others that occurred throughout history, one can see many similarities with the order and ruthless organization of ‘La Garduña’.
‘La Garduña remains shrouded in mystery. Tradition says that a holy man named Apollinario from Cordoba, had a vision of the Virgin Mary.
In this vision he was told he would be the savior of Spain and drive out the Moors. He claimed that the Virgin Mary had given him a button which she said had been taken from the robe of Christ. (The mafia soldiers are also called ‘Buttons’, it could be that is where the term originates, its religious sense) ‘La Garduña tried time and time again to force the Moorish invasion out of Spain, but failed.
Apollinario, with his story of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to him, convinced hundreds if not thousands of men to join him in a crusade against the Moors. They were able to set them back for a while but not stop them.
‘La Garduña’ went underground and hid from the Moors. They still practiced thievery and murder for hire and all sought of mischiefs.
It wasn’t until the Spanish crown re took control of Spain and Queen Isabella favored the Inquisition, that ‘La Garduña’ became known again.
Now under the rule of the church in Spain, they were free to do as they pleased. They murdered heathens and met continuously with the church officials, who told them they would be forgiven for their atrocities, because they worked for God.
Another secret society that sprung out of Spain was the Jesuit order. Over time the Inquisition grew weary of ‘La Garduña’ and did not support the organization anymore. ‘La Garduña’ disappeared into a cult dedicated to the Vatican. One can speculate as to where the Jesuit order, maybe, could’ve come from, ‘La Garduña’.