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Licio Gelli, former leader of the secret Italian Propaganda-2 Masonic lodge, has escaped from a Swiss prison. He was awaiting possible extradition to Italy, where he is charged with fraud and fraudulent bankruptcy in the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano last year. Discovery that cabinet ministers, generals, and leading businessmen belonged to Mr. Gelli's secret ''P-2'' lodge led to the downfall of the government in 1981. Italian magistrates believed it was plotting to undermine the country's constitutional order.

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