5 February 1891 - Saunière asked the village council for permission to enclose and fit out, at his own expense, what he termed in his writings the “square”, located in front of the church and the cemetery
Yes we know. As Saussez already worked out, Saunière managed to appropriate some 600m2 of public space. He controlled access to this public space for 300 days a year. He bars access to the cemetery. He commences planned excavations behind closed doors. He moves the worship of the Blessed Virgin to the garden, which virtually empties the church [since devotees of the Blessed Virgin made up most of the congregation]. Why did he do all this? What was he up to?
March 1891 - Saunière enclosed this “square” and probably began working on the water-tank during this time - this was to provide water for the gardens surrounding the church.
The operative word here is 'probably'. In other words, it is not known. Unfounded statement. I also doubt Saunière did start work here - the monuments and flower beds promised to the council were not built until 1894-1897.
July 1891 -Saunière borrows 250 francs from Madame Marre Barthélémy
21 September 1891 - Entry in Saunière's diary: “letter received from Granès, discovery of a tomb (“tombeau”), rain in the evening”
On the day of the 'discovery' of the tomb the builders were in the process of installing the new pulpit in the church. We know that Saunière dismissed the workers who were doing the work, so we at least know he was inside the church [i.e. not outside in the cemetery, or digging under the library he built next to the cemetery etc]. If the 'discovery' was to do with the work around the new pulpit - we even know what part of the church was being dug up etc. It was the north wall of the church. As others have noted [such as Mariano Tomatis] - Saunière even left us a map of where that area was.
Saunière uncovered the entrance to a tomb near the place of the old pulpit [which was near the place of the now removed Altar of the Virgin] - this led underground into a crypt in the church, or perhaps even into the cemetery. The later staircase Saunière had built here matches the exact size of the original width of the altar of the Virgin (58cm x 200cm). Saunière conceals the entrances and hides them. Access is hidden by two false doors into a cupboard.
Saunière leaves for a retreat, sees various other priests, returns from the retreat and after a visit from 4 unknown colleagues, begins new work with new Masons. From Bérenger Saunière’s Notebook he wrote: “Saw the curé of Névian – Went to see Gélis – Went to see Carrière, Saw Cros and secret”. Sauniere said he saw ( vu ) the curate of Névian, a town not far from Narbonne, who's priest at the time was the Abbe Dumons, he also saw Antoine Gelis (1827-1897), priest of nearby Coustaussa, the priest of Bages-les-Flots, Carrière and Cros, probably the vicar general (1810-1898) who had accompanied Billard during his visit of 1889. On October 6th Sauniere writes: Visit of 4 brothers.
Are these the same four people named on September 29? I tend to take at face value what Sauniere wrote and his actions in the church ...
But wasn't Saunière having a new pulpit installed in his church at that time? No. Saunière's new pulpit was purchased on 20 October 1891 from Maison Giscard of Toulouse for the price of 750 francs.
Makes imminent sense that Sauniere demolished the old pulpit first then, and what is more he also moved the pulpit forward in position. Its obvious that this work would be done before he began to lay the foundations for the new pulpit a couple of weeks into October/November.
So the tomb he discovered could have been located next to the cemetery? Correct. Saunière discovered the tomb in September and purchased his pulpit in October.
Unfounded statement. An unfounded statement that others are accused of making. I will paraphrase an earlier comment: "he did not say where the tomb was discovered in his diary". There is absolutely nothing mysterious in disposing of the old pulpit and making plans and measurements for the new pulpit in September before ordering the new one later in October!
The discovery of a tomb on 21 September 1891 – demonstrates that the discovery of the tomb played no great role in Saunière's life.
Depending in what and where the tomb was. If it was a tomb under the church why then did he take such lengths to conceal it - with hidden staircases, concealed double locked doors etc? Why did he dismiss the workers and then employ a new set?
Why did he then start digging around in the cemetery? We know there are complaints about Sauniere doing this. Sauniere described that he was 'renovating the cemetery' [in 1894] but on 12 and 14 March 1895 inhabitants of the village sent two letters of complaint to the Préfet de l’Aude about Saunière’s work. They complained about what was really happening - Sauniere was *not* renovating the cemetery ["... this said work has nothing to do with repairs"] - he was upending everything. Seems to me the whole thing - that of finding a tomb and other tombs in the cemetery - was very important & it played an important role in Sauniere's life, at that point in time.
Hold on! What about Saunière dismissing his masons in September while they were working in the church? Confusion has been introduced into this story. Saunière did change his masons, but that was only because his money ran out from selling masses in September. Work resumed on the church on 14 October 1891 with new masons – the obvious reason why the previous masons weren't used is because by October they would have been working on another assignment.
Tomb found 21/9/1891. Sauniere dismisses workers that day.
28/9/1891 Leaving for a retreat, visit of M
29/9/1891 Saw priest in Nevian, saw Gelis, saw Carriere, saw Cros & Secret.
2/10/1891 - back from retreat
6/10/1891 - Visit of 4 colleagues
14/10/1891 - Agreement with new masons [not from the village].
His money ran out from selling masses 21/9/1891 [the day of discovery] but 3 weeks later he had the money to pay for a new team of mason's that were not local villagers? But in the meantime he had money to travel about in that 3 weeks visiting people and going on retreat etc. Seems unlikely he had run out of money. The same masons were not used because they would have been working on another assignment? Another unfounded statement not supported by anything and is conjecture.
There is no evidence that anyone entered the church crypt in 1887 when the new replacement altar was installed in Saunière's church. Jacques Cholet from Paris excavated the church of Rennes-le-Château during the late 1950s and early 1960s that included looking inside the crypt – he didn't find anything. Stories of buried secrets and hidden treasures in the crypt beneath the church of Rennes-le-Château are mere figments of the imagination.
Firstly Cholet did not *look inside the crypt*.
A history of this crypt or tomb below the church [which was first a private chapel of the Hautpouls] is well attested. On July 24, 1827, Bishop Saint Rome Gualy in the account of his pastoral visit writes:
"le pailler" faces the presbytery, the streets of "capelle". On the cadastral map, the parcel of land called "the capelle" includes the entire land: le pailler, presbytery, church and cemetery and the adjoining designated land titled "emplacement village', located not far from the feudal castle that lies next to the entrance of the cemetery.
The apse of the church and the walls that go up to the bell tower are constructed of stone arches and small Lombard device's, indicating the antiquity of this building to the eleventh century."
Historical records provide further information about the construction and implementation of the old chapel that the Hautpouls later used: Peter II [de Voisins], Lord of Rennes, received from his father Pierre the 1st, the old castle located to the east of the village called "Castrum Valens" - he did not think it necessary to restore and fortify a castle - of Visigothic origin (it remained then a large vaulted room which served as a stable) that already existed and which he [had] made [into] a real castle with four towers, three square and one round, which thereafter gave its current name to the village. Near the castle and adjoining the cemetery, there was the chapel built with Lombard arches and one narrow opening. Peter II and his successors later enlarged the funeral chapel [into?] the parish church, extending the three bays, the bell tower and the front porch."
The discovery & proof of the tomb of the Lords is also well known. The parish register of baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials covering the years 1694-1726 at Rennes-le-Chateau, owned by Corbu-Captier, is the only known archive to date, which, by the acts recorded by the priests of the village, furnish evidence of the authenticity of the tomb or crypt. Some passages found include the following:
"... Lady Anne Delsol aged about seventy five year old, widow of Sir Marc Antoine Dupuy Lord Pauligne, former treasurer of France in the generality of Montpellier ... provided the sacraments ... was buried ... in the church at this place of the tomb of the Lords by the baluster in the presence of Mr. Michel said parish priest of Saint-Just and the master priest Antoine Delmas priest of Bains ".
Signed Vernat Cure ".
Also buried in the funeral chapel; "Noble Sir Henry du Vernet, Lieutenant Colonel of the cavalry ... buried in the church of the place at the tomb of the Lords ... signed Vernat priest."
From the will of Henry Hautpoul, Lord Baron de Rennes, Aussillon and other places. ... "I recommend my soul to God and all the heavenly court, wishing that after my death my body be buried in the parish church of Rennes in said tomb of my ancestors and my funeral honors are made according to the will of Lady Dupuy my wife ..."
The current parish church was originally a mortuary chapel of the late twelfth and early thirteenth century, and the local Lords enlarged the chapel by extending the three bays. The space between the back of the chapel and the background of the church were raised and tiled. To access the shrine they built two hard stone steps which joined the two side walls. The old wooden communion support was replaced in 1828 by a wrought iron support communion rail with 2 gates/doors. From then on, it is no longer spoken of as a stately chapel but a parish church. For the placement of the tomb we have three pieces of information: the book/diary where Berenger Sauniere wrote: "September 21, 1891, letter Granés, discovery of a tomb, the rain tonight". A draft prepared by Sauniere before Monsignor Billard's visit in 1897 where he notes: "The corridors of the nave were tiled". Finally, the act of death of Anne Delsol where "the tomb of the Lords' is by the baluster".
Antoine Captier and Claire Corbu in The Legacy of Sauniere, page 274, regarding the baluster tell us: "We have every reason to believe that this baluster is none other than the one utilised by Abbe Bigou to hide the vial with a small parchment ... he could not ignore the existence of this tomb. Yet he will not use it to serve as a burial place for Mary de Negre d'Ables - she will be buried in the cemetery. " Referring to the archives, Marie de Negre, marquise de Blanchefort, who died January 17, 1781 could not be buried in the vault of the Lords of Rennes since a Letters-Patent of the King, made stipulations about burial in churches, chapels and cemeteries, dated Versailles May 15, 1776 and registered in the parliament August 23, 1776:
The first article stated: "No clergyman or lay person, of whatever quality, status and dignity it mayest be, with the exception of archbishops, bishops, priests and high dignitaries and founding chapels, can not be buried in churches even in public or private chapels, oratories and generally in all enclosed and enclosed places where the faithful for prayer and celebration of the holy mysteries, and this for any reason or under any pretext whatsoever."
We can not exclude that in the perimeter around the church of Rennes-le-Château there is a crypt. In recent years, that information circulates among the villagers - we will need to be patient and wait for the results from official excavations to confirm these allegations.
Rat Scabies was the drummer for punk rock troublemakers the Damned – but through his family’s interest in all things esoteric he has always been a Grailhunter. He’s been fascinated by the mystery of Rennes-le-Château since its inception in 1972. Now chairman of the Saunière Society, Rat has seen and heard it all, and has mixed with the great and the good and some of the downright dishonest...During his own researches he has been shown many things, been told many secrets and been privy to some outlandish theories. Rat has recently made an astounding new find among his father’s old papers: previously undisclosed documents from the late 1800s which appear to relate directly to the mystery of Rennes-le-Château. Never before seen, these documents will delight and intrigue every member of the Rennes-le-Château research fraternity while adding to the puzzle and mystery surrounding the enigma.
Rat invites you to view this new evidence with him, discuss its content and try to shed some light on the numerous challenges these enigmatic new documents present. This illustrated talk is a must for every true-blooded Rennie. You’ve heard this kind of claim before – but this time it’s for real!
We hope it is for real anyway!!
I suppose one must look at this 'discovery' in the context of Bérenger Saunière's life at that moment in time. But even more so we should look at what had happened before and after this event. Was this tomb discovered or uncovered accidentally? Was the discovery made by someone else and communicated to Sauniere? Was the discovery even made at Rennes-le-Chateau?
Was Saunière 's comment 'decouverte d'un tombeau' important or just a throw-away comment? If it was throw-away why feel the need to note it in a diary? If it was significant why write it in a diary to let everyone know? One could say because his diaries were private, he probably thought no-one else would read them. But then again, did he 'manufacture' his writings to cover things up or 'throw' people off any scent as it were. We simply have to admit that we will probably never know because we do not have enough information about this tomb discovery.
The facts are that Bérenger Saunière's diary entry for 21 September 1891 reads as follows:
“letter received from Granès. discovery of a tomb, rain in the evening” ('lettre de Granès. découvert d'un tombeau. Le soir pluie').
Did the diary list events of that day sequentially. He had firstly made a note regarding a letter he received from Granes so was this letter in some way related to the tomb discovery? Saunière also made a note that there was rain in the evening [i.e the tomb was discovered some time during the day?]. The weather had been of some concern to Saunière. In the days leading up to the famous entry Saunière had recorded the following weather observations:
9. violent wind, it's bad
10. the wind redoubles in strength, the harvest is damaged
11. the wind continues the same
12. wind the same
13. wind, rain, thunder and lightning
15. nice weather,
20. in the evening, Lightning, Thunder and rain
21. découverte d'un tombeau, rain in the evening
22. Rain in the night
We know the weather was extremely volatile at this time. On the 25th, 26th October, 1891 the bad weather culminated in a flood of the river Aude, and the department of the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales were devastated by terrible floods. Numerous and spectacular floods of rivers in the departments occurred and the municipalities of Rennes-les-Bains and Couiza, in the Aude high valley were hit very hard, as well as the towns of Limoux, Carcassonne and Narbonne and the entire coastal plain. [see HERE].
Did the rain then, wash away some tombstones exposing an uncovered grave? This would be possible at Rennes-les-Bains, and happened in 1992 - there is film footage of this - ferocious floods which ruined the cemetery. Its debatable if the same thing could have happened at Rennes-le-Chateau because it is so high up. There is a possibility that heavy rain could have dislodged recumbent tombstones.
Other researchers have come to the conclusion that the sentence before 'discovery of a tomb' is relevant i.e. that the 'letter from Granes' suggests that the discovery was made by someone else - that even the person who had sent the letter from Granes made the discovery. Others have written that as "Saunière moved his library and study into this building [that is the wooden building he erected next to the cemetery gates]which stood above the level of the garden and, since this was a drought area, the soil was hollowed out below the structure to allow a water-tank to be installed, providing water to the gardens surrounding the church (Saunière turned this building into a chapel in 1898, according to surviving correspondence by Tiburce Caminade). Therefore, Saunière was working on a parcel of land situated next to the cemetery from February 1891 – and the tomb referred to in his diary entry could just have been a tomb that had once belonged to the cemetery that was disturbed during the works – and nothing else". But this means that this researcher believes that the work begun on this structure in February, was related 7 months later, to the discovery of the tomb. However there are some French researchers who assert that "It [the library by the cemetery] was first built by Berenger Saunière in 1894 with limestones that he carried up from the Brook of Couleurs himself. It was built over the cistern or water storage tank which caused the argument between himself and the maire, and he organised pipes taking water especially to the font in the church. This building served as the priest's library before he built the Tour Magdala". This would mean the repository was built 3 years after the tomb discovery.
In his desperation's to dismiss anything out of the ordinary regarding Sauniere he settles for the scenario that while Sauniere builds the repository and other related work he dislodges a tomb. The researcher writes: "But could the discovery of this tomb have been something extraordinary, like for example a buried treasure that generated immense wealth?" He answers this as follows: "Again, the evidence from Saunière's own records discounts this possibility – because according to the testimony of his Carnets, he was living on a salary of 900 francs per year and had obtained 582.50 francs from selling masses in 1891. During the same period Saunière carried out works on various projects totalling 2,661.50 francs. He was forced to rely on donations and on borrowing money to balance his accounts. In July 1891 and 7 November 1891 Saunière borrowed two amounts of 250 francs from Madame Marre Barthélémy respectively. Saunière's accounts for the period also show he had ‘Secret Funds’ representing 80 francs for the whole year". Its a very singular way of looking at 'evidence'.
When you look at what Sauniere was doing in and around the church at the time of this discovery - a theory presents itself.
Why? Because on the day of the 'discovery' of the tomb the builders were in the process of installing the new pulpit in the church. We also know that he dismissed the workers who were doing the work, so we can assume he was inside the church [i.e. not outside in the cemetery, or digging under the library he built next to the cemetery etc]. If the 'discovery' was to do with the work around the new pulpit - we even know what part of the church was being dug up etc. It was the north wall of the church. As others have noted - Sauniere even left us a map of where that area was.
The pulpit was not far from an altar .... . Since, in fact, there were two altars associated with the church at Rennes-le-Chateau and Sauniere talks about medals of Lourdes - it cannot be ruled out that it was the altar of the Virgin, on the northern wall of the church that the 1891 find was related to .... but wait, the Altar of the Virgin did not carry a stone support that could carry a 'tombeau'. I say this because some think that the discovery of a tombeau relates to a piece of ecclesiastical furniture - an all ecclesiastical dictionary's describe the tombeau as cavity in the main altar which carries bones of a saint and parchment certifying the bones to be authentic. The tombeau is to be found only on the Main Altar.
If so then this would be related to the 1887 'find'.
In June 1891 the Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and the ‘Visigothic’ Pillar were installed by Bérenger Saunière at Rennes-le-Château, in the garden he had commandeered, in the presence of a Lazarist priest from the church of Notre-Dame de Marceille (Lourdes was considered the symbol of the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy by Père Emmanuel d’Alzon [1810-1880], the founder of the Assumptionist Order).
What else do we know about 1891? We know that earlier in the year, on 15 February 1891, Bérenger Saunière asked the village council for permission to enclose and fit out at his own expense, what he termed in his writings the “square”, located in front of the church and the cemetery. The Councillors accepted on the following conditions: the parcel of land remain the exclusive property of the Commune; that no covered building be built there; that one of the keys allowing access to it [it presumably being the cemetery?] would be deposited in the Town Hall; and that this “square”, once enclosed, would remain open on Sundays and public holidays as well as on religious holidays, whether local or national, from sunrise to sunset. Sauniere had therefore commandeered vast amounts of the land around the church and cemetery and barred access to these places for 300 days of the year.
Saussez has shown amply that this was a strategy cooked up by Sauniere to continue to dig around the church and the cemetery etc. For me then, Sauniere did discover a 'tombeau'. If the tombeau in the main altar carried information about the church, this may have led Sauniere to continue digging inside the church under the guise of 'renovations' - which was apt because the church really did need renovations. Was he looking for a burial vault, grave etc or the place where further sacred relics might be?
The main altar was upended in 1887. Thanks to the donation of a lady of Coursan, Marie Cavailhé, Sauniere can finally meet the requests of bishops by ordering a "Romanesque altar with terracotta tabernacle" at the plant FD Monna in Toulouse. Receipt, dated July 27, 1887, indicates a cost of 700 francs, supported by Mrs. Cavailhé. It would be this altar that would carry a tombeau. Not the tombeau found in 1891. It is strange because Sauniere did not write these discoveries in a diary. In fact i believe the diary - rather strangely - was only written for 1891 & 1892!
Does the Virgin altar carry a stone which would have tombeau? No.
When all is said and done, perhaps in September 1891 Sauniere discovery of a tombeau was exactly that - he uncovered the entrance to a tomb near the place of the old pulpit [which was near the Virgin of the Altar] - that led underground into a crypt in the church, or into the cemetery? It does fit all the circumstantial evidence shown in the activities of Sauniere viz:
1] He replaces the main altar 1887. In this altar was found a 'tombeau' - in ecclesiastic terms, a small box carrying a parchment or paper which related to the bones alongside it in the box. The bones were usually related to the saint associated with the church. When did the church become associated with Mary Magdalene? Medieval rendering of the church suggests also the Blessed Mary i.e the Virgin Mary? One also has to consider that this church was originally the private chapel of the Lords of Rennes. Whatever Sauniere found - ....he certainly started looking for something? He is known to have dug up the nave and in front of the main altar [flooring].
2] In Feb 1891 he gets access to the land in front of the church and cemetery and bars access by the villagers for 300 days of the year. He continues his various work projects.
3] September 1891, his team of workers are working on replacing the old pulpit. This is on the north wall of the church, not far from the Altar of the Virgin. This was referred to by Leuillieux in 1876. Later concealed recesses here are built by Sauniere. The staircase built here matches the exact size of the original altar of the Virgin (58cm x 200cm). These are all concealed and hidden by Sauniere. Access is hidden by two false doors into a cupboard.
4] The accounts of the lifting of this Virgin altar Saussez thinks is the root of the eyewitness descriptions (‘I saw a pot with shiny glinty objects ..’) of the workers with Sauniere when they raised the slab. They saw the glinting objects under the the stone slab when it was removed. Sauniere says to his workers these are worthless medallions from Lourdes, cementing the connection with the Virgin altar. The stone slab raised at this altar marked an entrance passage. Sauniere puts temporary floorboards down here. At the opposite end of the church he builds the Secret Room. Steps down from this second entry passage are later found by Cholet.
5] Sauniere then leaves for a retreat, sees various other priests, returns from the retreat and after a visit from 4 unknown colleagues begins new work with new Masons. From Bérenger Saunière’s Notebook, “Saw the curé of Névian – Went to see Gélis – Went to see Carrière, Saw Cros and secret” [“secret” an abbreviation for secrétaire – “Cros” being Abbé Guillaume Cros, 1810-1898, the Vicaire général, with Pierre Pradel the Secrétaire général].
One of those Sauniere consulted was Carriere (a doctor from Limoux) who’s cousin was Abbe Lassere of Alet, and who was personal doctor of the Count Chambord. There are other interpretations perhaps. Sauniere said he saw ( vu ) the curate of Névian, a town not far from Narbonne, who's priest at the time was the Abbe. Dumons, he also saw Antoine Gelis (1827-1897), priest of nearby Coustaussa, the priest of Bages-les-Flots, Carrière and Cros, probably the vicar general (1810-1898) who had accompanied him during the visit of Monsignor Billard 1889. What catches the eye for most people in the quoted sentence is the last word, "Secret": some think this probably refers to the closely guarded secret by the parish priest of Rennes, the news of which he relayed to the four characters mentioned?On October 6th Sauniere writes: Visit of 4 brothers. Are these the same four people named on September 29? This meeting has not been recorded therefore we can not say for sure; but there are those who, reading between the lines, think that these notes act as two references to a small group of local priests in on the secret (secret) of Sauniere.
One researcher [Bedu] wrote "From a visit to the cemetery, i conclude that the activities of Sauniere began from just adjacent to the north wall of the church. He writes: "We have seen that at that point the wall of the church is curiously plastered outside and the tombs are all present back to 1891. Why is this finding? Simply because Berenger Sauniere will start from this particular excavations in the cemetery!"
Paul Saussez noted that the area which had previously housed the altar of the Virgin (and perhaps - which is an entry point to the crypt) spanned the same size as the staircase of the pulpit; so Sauniere would use this space for the erection of the stairs going up - thus masking what steps went further down into the crypt. Sauniere ensures that the wall is reinforced, creating the architectural anomaly that one can see - the corresponding arch is not aligned with the other.
6] We also know that a few years later there are complaints about Sauniere digging in the cemetery. Sauniere described that he was 'renovating the cemetery' [in 1894] but on 12 and 14 March 1895: Inhabitants of the village sent two letters of complaint to the Préfet de l’Aude about Saunière’s work in the cemetery. The two complaints were as followed:
Rennes-le-Château, 12 March 1895
We wish to inform you that, with the agreement of the Municipal Council of Rennes-le-Château, the meeting in the Town Hall at one o’clock on Sunday 10 March, we the electors wish to protest that the decision giving the curé the right to continue work makes no sense and in addition we desire to be freely responsible to tend the graves of our forebears. The curé has no right to remove, raise or relocate any ornaments, crosses or crowns from where we have placed them
Sarda, Gavignaud, Delmas, Vidal, etc
Rennes-le-Château, 14 March 1895
We are far from satisfied with prevailing conditions in the cemetery. Crosses are removed, as are tombstones, and this said work has nothing to do with repairs nor is there a good reason for it
Baumore, Rousset, Bouteille, etc
One can see here that villagers said exactly what was happening - Sauniere was *not* renovating the cemetery ["and this said work has nothing to do with repairs"] he was upending everything because he was looking for something.
I am left to conclude that Jean Luc Robin (in Rennes-le-Château, Saunière’s Secret) was right when he wrote: "After essentially ransacking the church Saunière then went on to ransack the cemetery". Why? For Robin it was a case of: “after discovering the message in the wooden pillar [this] had sent him to the Tomb of the Lords ..[then] from the tomb we presume that he reached the crypt - and this sent him to the graveyard, from whence he departed to poke around the countryside ….”
Jean Luc also had one other interesting thing to say: ‘I’ve already mentioned a writing left by the uncle of the abbé Bigou, who had been priest of Rennes-le-Château forty years before him. It says: “Beneath the altar of the church of Rennes-le-Château there is a chamber in which are tombs dating from the times of the ancient kings (sic), as well as documents which must not fall into unintended hands. For this reason, I have had access to this crypt sealed”.
In these short sentences of Robin the bare bones of the story of Saunière hang. From his position as priest, Saunière came into some information perhaps from previous priests of Rennes-le-Château, whether orally or from old notes and Registers. He quite simply began to look for something, specifically the old tomb of the Lords which allowed him to access an ancient crypt under the Church. We must assume it was something important because he spent years and years looking and searching. One must even ask if the 'trafficking in masses' was created to make the money to carry out these works. Where else was he going to get the funds to carry out all these works?
For some it is the grave of the 'ancient kings' [whatever that means]. Perhaps for some he was searching for the bones of Mary Magdalene. Did he believe that the tombeau with bones of a saint to which the church was consecrated were genuine? Is this why he was obsessed with all things Mary Magdalene around his domaine? Is this why he wanted to make it a pilgrimage centre? Whatever motivated him - he searches in the cemetery and digs up all the graves.
I think René Descadeillas was right: "Le trésor de Rennes n'existe pas. Mais le secret du curé de Rennes subsiste.Et c'est en lui que réside le mystère". When Descadeillas dismisses the Rennes mystery - as some claim - i think what he is dismissing is all the paraphernalia associated with Plantard et al, but essentially, not the mystery of Sauniere and his enigmatic building works, searches and nocturnal activities...
Thierry Garnier writes in an article - Our reference documents will mainly be the CORRESPONDENCES DIARIES (1896-1915) of B. Sauniere brought to light some time ago in the departmental archives of Carcassonne. These documents, available to researchers, at a sum of €53 (including postage)... , appear at first as a mass of disorganized papers, with a third of them being unreadable or unusable because pages are missing. Not to mention books & diaries that are incomplete. Through a careful deciphering of the writing of B. Saunière - of the bills and letters which we we cross checked with the information contained in Saunieres other notebooks, we can list 377 books of all kinds: fiction, classic literature, naturalism, religion and history. This mini catalog, inserting itself in the middle of the correspondence, is a kind of inventory entitled "Reading Books" clearly defined at the beginning of January 1900 by B. Sauniere. Although not an exhaustive list, it is of some interest. The list includes;
* Apostates and martyrs, by Father Augustine Devoille
- Through Poland and Russia, by Alexandre de Lamothe
- Through three centuries by Alexandre de Lamothe
* The adventure's brother Sulpice, by J. Arsac.
* In the Mouth of Mystery, by Henri Ballacey
* The happiness of a millionaire, by Father Jean Grange
- Confessions of a former freethinker, by Father Jean Grange
* The golden key, by Father Jean Grange
- Limousin Tales, by Father Jean Grange
- From the abolition of clerical celibacy, by Eugene Lachaise
- The Last of the Mohicans by James F. Cooper
* Maintains the history of France, for Blanchet Mathurin
- Interviews of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lamartine
* The elixir of life, by Raoul Navery
* Errors and historical lies, Charles Barthelemy
This last title includes several volumes:
Vol.1 - Pope Joan. The Inquisition. Galilee. The lazy Kings. The usurpation of Hugh Capet.The St. Bartholomew. The Man in the Iron Mask. Father Lorikeet. The Bishop Virgil and antipodes.
Vol.2 - Calas Curve head, proud Sicambre..Paris is worth a mass. Philip Augustus at Bouvines. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Letters and the tomb of Heloise.Bélisaire. Les Enfants de Nemours. Salomon de Caus.
Vol.3 - Calvin judged by himself and by his own. Crimes of the Borgias. Bloody Mary. Kill them all. That Versailles had cost Louis XIV.Charles V has he done in his lifetime bury? Yet St. Bartholomew. Saint-Simon, a historian of Louis XIV. Tasso's Prison. La Poule au pot.Political and moral role of Agnes Sorel.Restoration and abroad. The crutches of Sixtus. The Last Word on Fr. Lorikeet. Is the death of poet Gilbert misery? Fable volunteers.The Sorbonne and printing.
Vol.4 - The Fourteen armed Carnot. A Chapter errors and Voltaire lies. The Roman painter of Lesueur. The Deposition of Louis the Pious.Mozart freethinker. The Grand Inquisitor Torquemada. About Charles VI and Isabeau of Bavaria. Madame de Maintenon and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Truth about Fr. Joseph. The ship ? Avenger ?.
Vol.5 - My seat is made. The Meal of Bodyguards. Errors and historical lies concerning the papacy and the Church.The Truth about Jean Bart. The St. Clotilde crimes. The virtues of Brunhilda. What Tartuffe?The Religion of Montaigne. The Last Banquet of the Girondins. Voltaire and serfs of Jura. Freron and philosophers.
Vol.6 - The Superiority and prosperity of Protestant nations. Religion Buffon. Savonarola he was a heretic and a revolutionary? The Cruelties Clovis. Primary Education in France before 1789. Richelieu character. The Truth about Jansenism. The character of Louis XIII.
Flight. 7 - Former royal absolutism was she? How was Louis XV high? The Good King Dagobert.The Two Charles VII. Louvois is it poisoned? Monsieur de La Palisse. The Truth about emigration.Malbrough gentleman. Marie de Medici did she die of misery? Of Guilt Fouquet.
Vol.8 - Human Rights in the Middle Ages. The Selfishness of Fontenelle. The Law of Bankruptcy.Jeanne d'Albret did she die poisoned? The Trial of Mary Stuart. A Final Word on Fortunat. Eustache de Saint-Pierre. Charlemagne knew he write? The Last Days of Charles IX. The Conspiracy Cinq Mars.
Vol.9 - The Mysteries of Venice. The Empress Maria Theresa and Madame de Pompadour. Peace and Truce of God. About the Vandals and vandalism. We will not go to Canossa. The Truth about Telemachus. The Wars of religion. The Religion of La Fontaine. The study. Cervantes, freethinker.Politics and Clovis independence.
Vol.10 - The Story of Christopher Columbus. He was the Death of Correggio. Dante a heretic and a revolutionary? The Holy Hermandad. Etienne Marcel. The character of Charles V, the Wise.
Vol.11 - The State is me! Froissart is it a biased historian? The Death of Raphael. A Novel about Philip II. The Truth about Grandier. Omar he burned the library of Alexandria? Shakespeare's Religion. Voltaire historian. The Sicilian Vespers.
Vol.12 - Mistakes and historical lies to the Chamber of Deputies. The Roman in history. The Golden Legend. The Imaginations of Varillas. Winners of the Bastille. Huet, Bishop of Avranches. The Conversion of Turenne. Fontenelle, freethinker.
Vol.13 - From Alleged ignorance of the French nobility in the Middle Ages. The Truth About the Father Trublet. The Nonote Folder. The Habits of Cardinal Richelieu. The Impatiences of Louis XIV.History Authority of Cardinal de Retz. From antiquity the title? very Christian? . Lies of Saint-Simon.
Vol.14 - Voltaire Capuchin. It was Pope Honorius heretic? Notes Patouillet. The Truth about the Concordat of 1801. The Chevalier de La Barre. Terrors of the year one thousand. Fenelon, free thinker.
Vol.15 - A clerical Republic Lies of painting.. Question congregations, there are a hundred years.The Romance of the Bishop Synesius. Excommunication in the Middle Ages. Religion Montesquieu.Death of Jean Goujon. Caricature Santeuil. The Habits of Robert Arbrinel. A French Artist slandered.Primary Education in France during the Revolution. A statue in Coligny.
Vol.16 - The Abuse of the old regime that were the Albigensian It The Truth about Pope Clement V. The Trial of the Templars... Pope John XXII. Crimes Girondins.
Topics covered in the 16 volumes are truly remarkable. Continuing this "nomenclature";
* The story of Theodore, Louis (illegible name)
* History and origin of the Chapel of., For (no first name) Olive.
- The man who can not bless, for Raoul Navery
* History of the prisons of Paris by Louis Lurine
* Henri de Bourbon, by the Star People
* History meteors and great phenomena of nature, by J. Rambosson
* Iréna or virgin Lyonnaise, by Father Augustine Devoille
- Diary of a worker, by Father Jean Grange
* Legends from all countries, by Alexandre de Lamothe
* The legend of plants, by Alexandre de Lamothe
* The popular movement in the Crusades, by Eugene (not illegible)
* The invisible hand, by Father Jean Grange
- The martyrs, by FR Chateaubriand (19)
- The door of the Faubourg du Temple, by Father Nazaire Arnault
* The Philosopher's Stone, by Father Jean Grange
* Above the bush, by Father Jean Grange
* The Golden Fish by Paul Féval
* The breakthrough rock, by Emile (name illegible)
* Ruins and hamlets by Charles Rubois
* The revelations of a sacristan, by Father Jean Grange
* Rome by Father Rollant
* The sack of Rome by Father Augustin Devoille
* The Treasury underground, by Father Jean Grange
* (Illegible) historical .Récits the fourth century, by A. Thomoy
* An inscription by Eugene (name illegible)
* The usurer of Arcis, Charles (illegible name)
All these works belonged to the priest of Rennes-le-Château. He had listed them alphabetically within the correspondences books for the year 1900. In the collection of documents at our disposal, there are a few bills or receipts of booksellers stipulating magazine purchases and catechism books. The register books of masses, we will not put aside the letters of 26 and 27 May 1897 stating the purchase of a missal by B. Sauniere to Bonnafous library of Carcassonne and a portrait of Msg Billard; missal he offered him during his episcopal visit to Rennes-le-Château 6 June 1897. His relationship with his bishop were real. He bought his books mostly in Paris, sometimes in Arras, Carcassonne, Limoux and even in Lyon. Two letters of 6 and 11 February 1905, prove the purchase of books by Saunière in Lyon via the Masson family, Mrs E. Masson exactly.
He liked the publishing houses of Blériot editions, Rigaud, Vermot, Douniol, Mame, Lambert, Hachette, Lafitte, but also Firmin Didot editions - It is observed that he acquires the Hachette Almanac for several years. Sauniere also notes a selection of classic journals no less instructive than the previous readings; magazines he began to relate to 1908. He subscribed for many years to newspapers: le Pèlerin , le Dimanche Paroissial , la Croix , la Bonne presse , le Jardinier amateur , le Petit propriétaire , Fermes et Châteaux , L'Illustration , Lectures pour tous , Le mois littéraire - Le Petit journal illustré, Femina, Historia, Rions, Artistes Lyriques et, enfin la cerise sur le gâteau., le magazine JE SAIS TOUT , the magazine which published in 1905 for the first time the adventures of Arsene Lupin.
From the web site HERE run by Johan Netchacovitch.
Laurent Buchholtzer [aka Octonovo, a French researcher, did an interview with Johan Netchacovitch, on September 30, 2006]. Ok, this was 9 years ago, and views may have changed but here are some comments from him about the 'trafficking in masses' theory. Laurent had Abbe Berenger Sauniere's accounting books for the 1897-1915 period and the 1896-1915 correspondence books. His findings are summarised as follows:
"In terms of the magnitude of the sums [of Sauniere], I counted 185.657,11F the period for which I [was] accounting... It is true that the diaries of Sauniere cover the "request for Masses", "Sending masses", "acknowledgment", "no longer masses," and "promises of Masses". I counted 4660 "mass mailings" from 1896 to 1908, an average of one per day. That's a lot but it is far from the reported "hundreds of orders he received every day." Personally, I do not subscribe to the thesis of Mass trafficking as the sole source of the income of the abbe, and it will not be the thesis that I will defend at my conferences. The number of "donors" of the Abb'se amount to tens or hundreds. That's a lot, but at the same time, it is less than what I initially feared. How has the Abbe got in touch with them, and how did he convince [them to send money] ... Was there something extraordinary ? (I say this to tempt fate). I do not think there is a code in these accounting books. These are the everyday objects for management by Berenger Sauniere, and he makes no secret of them. He did not expect someone to reread them, especially a century later. Think back to his bishop at the trial of 1911, when he is asked for his accounts - the abbe denies having any. Clearly, his notebooks were exclusively for himself.
The abbe has a very positive balance at the end of each month. In reality he has only one difficult period, but I have to explain it in relations to the "rent of 20.000F". In 1899, 1900 and 1901, his revenues are very important and, in January 1901, his "month-end balance" is greater than 20.000F (so he has this amount in reserve). In February, 20.000F disappear from his accounts without explanation. It was only later that we understand that he had built up a pension to 3.5% from the Caisse d'Epargne (already!).
Here is what I call the double problem: The same people finance Sauniere - largely from beginning to end - A big part of the income comes from masses.
Boudet disliked Berenger Sauniere at least from 1896 onwards. It is not he [Boudet] who finances or who directs the work. An event that caught my attention and which seems significant is the deterioration of relations in 1897. There are two priests in Rennes-les-Bains. The second, Justin Sarda is a great friend and financial donor for Sauniere (and I find it amazing that after 50 years of research, we still know nothing about this character who is a financial genuine Abbe).
- The real close friends to Berenger Sauniere are mostly unknown for researchers (Justin Sarda, Edouard Auriol, Cazal, Cavailhé) and I find it very surprising after 50 years of research.
- Monsignor Billard never protected Berenger Sauniere
- Berenger Sauniere's travels appear and you can make a list ... except one which is manifestly secret (for now, I have a secret trip, but I have not finished stripping correspondence ). No known travel to Lyon or Paris from 1896 to his death.
- The villa Bethany and the domaine could be located elsewhere than at Rennes-le-Château.
What remains to be determined is why he was funded (in modern language, what was his selling point?) And why did his bishop sue him -which is clear that it was a pretext, that is to say why someone of his "camp" would be attacking him?
Obviously he [Sauniere] does not know "personally" 90% of the donors and he had no opportunity to meet them. Still, with some of them, apparently cordial relations were established quickly: they exchanged portraits, and services,... It is common knowledge that Sauniere was advertising masses, and I can confirm that there are directories. But I am not convinced that his ads are numerous. Publication costs could easily be drowned in the subscription & mass fee's, - moreover correspondence (which includes Masses requested and received) does not mention any ad request. I confess that I still do not understand the BS system and I'm always looking for my third order or a pious association [funding him?]".
HERE i refer to some comments in a blog entry i made. A response by Paul Smith said "... the article by Pierre Sourbès in L'Indépendant wasn't entirely a damp squib because amongst other inaccuracies it concluded that Saunière did not discover a treasure, but that his wealth originated from the selling of masses". Smith continues: "Journalist Pierre Sourbès considered the whole story and concluded that the explanation for Saunière's activities lay in the trafficking in masses and nothing else. An interesting fact – ... during the 1960s in the Tour Magdala – there existed religious journals and magazines containing their advertisement supplements showing Saunière's advertisements for masses".
He got all this information from the original Sourbès article where Sourbès wrote: “It is never much fun to debunk a legend, but without wanting to dishearten the nocturnal pickaxe-wielders we should recall that Saunière paid his suppliers in legal tender not in medieval doubloons and jewels, that he received a very large number of postal-orders, and that after his sudden death no trace could be found of his ‘treasures’ in the lavish home that he bequeathed to Marie, his maid. We also need to remember that the rich bindings in the library-tower actually enclosed collections of La Semaine de Suzette, Veillées des Chaumières and other edifying publications, which contained a block advertisement saying ‘Poor curé stuck on a mountain-top in the Corbières seeks masses to celebrate’ (Pauvre curé de campagne exile sur un piton des Corbières, demande messes à célébre). So another treasure-mystery disappears in a puff of smoke.”
I responded genuinely HERE asking about this "new fact" which 'suddenly appeared' - "that - during the 1960's in the Tour Magdala – there existed religious journals and magazines containing their advertisement supplements showing Saunière's advertisements for masses. Examples of magazines given are: La Semaine de Suzette, & Veillées des Chaumières for example. Apparently the adverts contained block advertisements saying ‘Poor curé stuck on a mountain-top in the Corbières seeks masses to celebrate’.
I asked: "Hmmmmm - really? Did the journalist really see these magazines? Or was this just journalistic licence? Was it conceivable that Pierre Sourbès was just repeating hearsay? Had he really read or seen these advertisements for himself? Why has no other researcher found copies of the adverts? The Semaine de Suzette was a child's magazine for girls, published in France from 1905 to 1960, famous for having revealed the character of Bécassine. It doesn't sound like the type of magazine Sauniere would solicit masses from".
Smith then responded disingenuously [a meaning which suggests someone who is making a point for deception, not being truly honest or sincere or transparent, of which i feel Smith is guilty] HERE. I had asked where all the examples of the adverts Sourbès referred to could be found, and why would La Semaine de Suzette appeal to Sauniere for the advertising of his masses? Its a girls magazine after all!
Smith wrote: "A reference to Bérenger Saunière in La Semaine de Suzette N° 4 of 28 February 1907 in relation to requests for postcards was discovered in 2011 by French researcher, Jérôme Choloux". But here is the rub - we WERE NOT talking about requests for postcards!!! We were talking about adverts claiming that "La Semaine de Suzette, Veillées des Chaumières and other edifying publications, ... contained a block advertisement saying ‘Poor curé stuck on a mountain-top in the Corbières seeks masses to celebrate’ (Pauvre curé de campagne exile sur un piton des Corbières, demande messes à célébre)".
In other words, there is no evidence at all of what Sourbès was claiming. So why - in turn - should we believe him? Do we think, when writing in 1967, that he had seen these adverts in the collections found in the Tour Magdala? Of course he hadn't. If he had he would have published an advert or two or given a reference, or instead, said what it really was advertising for- POSTCARDS. We know Sauniere collected postcards and also published his own set.
It is definitely pertinent to question this idea that the whole source of Sauniere's finances came from trafficking in masses. Here's why:
1] At the time of Sauniere it was acceptable for priests to traffic in masses because their salaries were so low. But the fee to be charged for a mass only ranged from 0.5 to 1 franc per mass. And why did Sauniere "specifically target certain congregations (at least, those specific congregations that became the principal donors) - he must've had some extraordinarily convincing argument, because they sent him (this little insignificant priest in the back of beyond) more money than [was] allowed - on a monthly basis - for the number of masses he could possibly be allowed to say, according to Canon Law?" This would suggests the donors were allowing him to knowingly break Canon Law?
2] Corjan de Raaf also said: "Did anyone ever wonder why Saunière received all his mass requests in alphabetical order? Rather odd don't you think? The priest literally copied an annuaire (the Yellow Pages of the age) to fake a justification for all the money he received. Yes Saunière put adverts in papers, but not the hunderds or thousands that are claimed. I have been a fanatical document searcher for many years and never have I come across one of these adverts".
3] HERE Mariano Tomatis reports about the sentencing of Sauniere in the trafficking of masses by his Bishop & Church:
ATTEMPTS TO APPEAL (1910-1911) - Given his expertise in the Vatican, Dr. Huguet chose an alternative defensive strategy: instead of an appeal, the lawyer suggests to Sauniere to ignore the deadlines set by the court of Carcassonne; & in the meantime, [they would] contact the Holy Congregation of the Council of Rome for the annulment of the sentence. Sauniere perhaps not entirely convinced that this maneuver [would work]; the deadline for submitting the appeal goes, and only three days later, on Nov. 30, 1910, Sauniere sent a letter in which he is appealing. But it is too late: November 28 the judgment had become final and enforceable. On 5 December, the local weekly La Semaine Religieuse de Carcassonne announces to the faithful that Sauniere was stripped of priestly functions and could no longer celebrate mass (1). On December 11, number 13 of the local magazine The veilles des Chaumières, there appears an advertisement signed by Sauniere in which he is advertising for a mass for 1 franc. The priest will deny ever having sent the ad to the magazine - and in fact the operation has the air of a maneuver of libel against Sauniere". This seems related to something raised in his trial - where Sauniere feels someone [who is] against him in the pages of Les veilles des Chaumières , refers to "an advertisement which was totally foreign"; in a later article published in La Semaine Religieuse de Carcassonne, written without even summoning him to clarify it: Sauniere said "I was first and foremost a priest, I would have asked the civil court to exonerate me - they would have certainly granted [this?]. I preferred to keep silent and suffer, preferring to wait for a [exoneration?] to come from Rome that I am confident will be granted'
4] As Corjan de Raaf reported: " Curiously enough, although hords of researchers have been looking for it for a long time, no-one has ever found an advert in any magazine of paper from Saunière in which he requests money to say mass. Nor has there been found one written request to any of his benefactors. Saunière received money from neighbouring priests. For example Sarda, the Chaplain of Rennes-les-Bains (where Henri Boudet was the priest) donated almost 1,500 francs to Saunière between 1899 and 1902. The money also came from convents and monasteries from all over France. It included places like Chartres and Lourdes. Not the places you would think need a mass said by the priest of a tiny dusty village on a far away hilltop in the Languedoc. Jerôme Choloux has counted the known, requests for masses Saunière received and plotted them on the map of France. Most come from Paris with over 300 requests. The rest comes from all over France. Perhaps it is here we have the real enigma of Rennes-le-Château. From his own records we can see that Saunière received requests to say no less than 110,000 masses for which he was sent 100,000 to 125,000 francs in the post. The amount was a fortune by all standards in those days. At the same time it can no means account for all of his excessive spending. Less than 20% of Saunière’s income came from mass traficking. Where he got the rest is the core of the Mystery of Rennes-le-Château".
5] A fascinating book by Franck MARIE - called 'Rennes-le-Chateau - Critical Studies' - published in around 1977 - reports on the 'traffic in masses' allegation. Marie wrote:
"Sauniere was booked for trafficking in masses, that is certain! Descadeillas has brought various evidences in his book Mythologie du Tresor de Rennes, such as those provided by the many mandates and Receipts received at the Post Office in Couiza. Also Mrs Hughes a native of Couiza [originally a housekeeper in Brazil before 1914], sent a friend a local newspaper article on the Mass intentions in favour of the Abbe Sauniere ... yet this position is opposed by Count Yves Maraval, who quoted one day a surprising statement - [this was that] his grandfather the Count Fondi de Niort, General Counsellor of Belcaire was an intimate friend of Monseigneur de Beausejour, [& the Monseigneur] ...spent one month each year at the Chateau de Niort-sur-Sault. Monseigneur Beausejour frequently said he condemned Sauniere for mass trafficking, but he did not believe it!"
"Little Rose – Thanks for Bleuette: she has already received. Little Rose asks all little girls with a charitable streak to send any postcards which they may have in duplicate, or any others, whether franked by the post-office or not, to Abbé Saunière, Curé of Rennes-le-Château via Couiza (Aude). This appeal is for religious good works”
Continuing from the last entry, i note that a 'new fact' has been found - that of - during the 1960s in the Tour Magdala – there existed religious journals and magazines containing their advertisement supplements showing Saunière's advertisements for masses. Examples of magazines given are: La Semaine de Suzette, & Veillées des Chaumières for example. Apparently the adverts contained block advertisements saying ‘Poor curé stuck on a mountain-top in the Corbières seeks masses to celebrate’. Hmmmmm - really? Or was this just journalistic licence? Was it conceivable that Pierre Sourbès was just repeating hearsay? Had he really read or seen these advertisements for himself?
Why has no other researcher found copies of these adverts?
The Semaine de Suzette was a child's magazine for girls, published in France from 1905 to 1960, famous for having revealed the character of Bécassine. It doesn't sound like the type of magazine Sauniere would solicit masses from.
One researcher has found an unpublished letter where Sauniere is asking for a bookbinder to bind his books and journals. The letter is interesting because it tells us about some of the library of Saunière in 1907: about 400 volumes. In the "quarto" Sauniere mentioned easily recognized weekly serials such as Les Veillées des Chaumières or L'Ouvrier. When the "octavo" is mentioned this is for books of smaller sizes, paperback. This small inventory obviously does not take into account the books that Sauniere could have bought already & bound. [see HERE].
Corjan de Raaf also reports HERE about trafficking in masses. He writes [& i have bold typed what i consider the most important statements];
"During his life, Saunière recorded much of his spending in his account books.
Many believe Saunière financed his lavish lifestyle and building projects by committing simony also called mass trafficking. Mass trafficking was a well known practice among priests at the time. In principle it wasn’t illegal. Priests would receive money from the faithful for saying masses. It often happened that the priest received the money but never did the work for it. If a priest would receive requests for more than 3 masses a day it would become suspect. By ruling od the diocese the surplus would have to be paid to the bishopric. A request to say a mass would cost 0.5 gold francs increasing up to 1.5 francs by the end of Saunière’s life.
There’s no doubt whatsoever Saunière was guilty of the practice of Mass trafficking. He kept meticulous records about it that can be found back in his accounting books from 1895 to 1915. These books are in the possession of Antoine Captier and Laurent Buchholtzer.
Being the well organized man that he was the Abbé used ordinary directories to find addresses to send out requests for money to say mass. He would start at ‘A’, working his way down the alphabet. It’s well known that he spent a small fortune on postage and that the local post office in Quillan was kept quite busy by him. From his own records we can see that Saunière received requests to say no less than 110,000 masses for which he was sent 100,000 to 125,000 francs in the post. The amount was a fortune by all standards in those days. At the same time it can no means account for all of his excessive spending. Less than 20% of Saunière’s income came from mass traficking. Where he got the rest is the core of the Mystery of Rennes-le-Château.
When the priest died he left all his possession to his aide Marie Dénarnaud. He didn’t leave any debts.
So where did it all the money come from -
As intriguing as the amount is where all the mass trafficking money came from. From the records it shows that the gold francs rained in from all over France. Curiously enough, although hords of researchers have been looking for it for a long time, no-one has ever found an advert in any magazine of paper from Saunière in which he requests money to say mass. Nor has there been found one written request to any of his benefactors.
Saunière received money from neighbouring priests. For example Sarda, the Chaplain of Rennes-les-Bains (where Henri Boudet was the priest) donated almost 1,500 francs to Saunière between 1899 and 1902. The money also came from convents and monasteries from all over France. It included places like Chartres and Lourdes. Not the places you would think need a mass said by the priest of a tiny dusty village on a far away hilltop in the Languedoc.
Jerôme Choloux has counted the known, requests for masses Saunière received and plotted them on the map of France. Most come from Paris with over 300 requests. The rest comes from all over France. Perhaps it is here we have the real enigma of Rennes-le-Château.
Jerôme Choloux has counted the known, requests for masses Saunière received and plotted them on the map of France. Most come from Paris with over 300 requests. The rest comes from all over France. Perhaps it is here we have the real enigma of Rennes-le-Château. MAP OF FRANCE COPYRIGHT JERÔME CHOLOUX.
Some other areas to note are as follows:
Bérenger Saunière had several other sources of income.
When Saunière was asked to account for his expenditure during the trials of 1910 and 1911 he reported having received 82,800 francs in gifts between 1885 and 1905 from a number of benefactors, many of which anonymous. It included 30,000 francs through his brother Alfred. The gifts cannot be traced or evidenced.
Collection Boxes - The priest placed six locked collection boxes in his church in 1897 and a big one in 1898 made of oak wood. These 7 boxes generated a steady stream of income. According to the priest, he collected 1,200 francs per year. He didn’t keep any notes of the income from these collections so it’s impossible to validate this amount. From the amounts collected in comparable French villages it’s more likely he received 500 to 600 francs per year from the collections.
Saunière had a priest’s salary of approximately 900 francs per year. In 1894 the Dénarnaud family moved in with Saunière. Together they made 900 francs per year in the hat factory in Espéraza.
When the construction of his domain was finished Saunière had 33 postcards made that he sold to visitors of the domain. The proceeds from these sales where never recorded.
The priest made a hobby out of restoring furniture and selling it. Again no records survive.
According to some French researchers that live closest to what is left of the original sources, the French police did some investigation after the priest’s death. Allegedly the report they produced spoke of trafficking gold with Spain.
Creative Commons Licence - With thanks to Corjan de Raaf for permission to reproduce parts of his page.
Partiality means 'unfair bias in favour of one person or thing; favouritism'. It is a very apt word to use for Rennes-le-Chateau researchers because we all practise partiality in one way or another, whether we realise it or not. For example, for me, i have a particular bias towards the possibility of the legendary Visigothic treasure being buried in the environs of the Languedoc, the old Septimania. I think it is entirely possible, in archaeological terms that it can exist, however remote or fanciful it might seem. However, i also discuss other researchers and their ideas and the other 'evidence' on the ground via this website. One might saying 'looking at the bigger picture'.
I note HERE that this website, run - i believe - by someone writing under the pseudonym of Paul Smith - may have looked at the last entry on this blog and then added an article to his website with the headline - 'Did Bérenger Saunière and Marie Dénarnaud have a baby?' [A hilarious claim in the article “Les Démons du Midi” by Pierre Sourbès was published in L'Indépendant of 3 December 1967]. If Smith did look at my entry [after all, he hadn't heard about this article before & it wasn't referenced on his website before my blog post] the information was possibly new to him. I myself only found out about the newspaper article recently when i was looking for information on Caminade, Sauniere's architect].
I always thought Smith practiced an extreme form of bias [that of Sauniere being a crooked priest who sold masses and that Plantard was a fake - Smith never entertains any other possibilities in the Rennes Affair]. His article - once again - exhibits that. Why? Because he chose to ignore any other parts of the entry i made [for example Genibrel, his information about his relative Bousquet etc] for the sole purposes of championing the 'selling of masses' idea and ridiculing any other scenario. Smith chose to go with an idea he felt was being hinted at by the journalist [although i do not think the article claimed it] which was a baby of Sauniere and Denarnaud being buried under the Tour Magdala! Where on earth did Smith get that from? It appears just from one line in said article; "And, more than ever, tongues wagged about Marie, the curé's ever-so-pretty maid..."
Smith also reported the quote - "Marie Dénarnaud had unreasonably been described as Saunière's mistress in the early accounts of the Rennes-le-Château myth during the 1960s – and this 1967 article developed the claim to its most ridiculous level. The said article also contained references to drunken near-orgies in the Villa Bethania and to bawdy priests". I think these press articles are sensationalising the Sauniere 'enigma' in unsavoury ways - and Smith, in his quest to continue to present Sauniere as a crooked priest who trafficked masses, uncritically accepts all these debunking treasure 'articles'. If Sauniere was meant to be one of the 'bawdy priest' ridiculed - well, even i know that isn't true. I know he was loved by his parishioners [evidenced by the parishioners being loyal to Sauniere even when he was no longer official priest of Rennes] and officially - when the Prefect of the Aude entrusted the Sub-Prefect of Limoux to conduct an official investigation into Bérenger Saunière following his name being put forward by Mgr Billard for promotion as personnat - they concluded that "His conduct is good".
Then Smith writes: But people just didn't get it – the story about Saunière's wooden box the size of a baby was soon transformed into Saunière “depositing a treasure chest beneath the Tour Magdala”.
No, that isn't what happened. The idea of something being buried by Sauniere under Tour Magdala which might be some kind of treasure came from family knowledge held by the Genibrels, and in particular a relative named Bousquet who signed Sauniere's death certificate [apparently]! Then Smith says 'This story [about the treasure] only originated in this 1967 article – Noël Corbu didn't know anything about the story during the 1950s and the early 1960s – and the story certainly doesn't date from Bérenger Saunière's lifetime".
Smith suggests here that because Corbu didnt know about it then it cant be true!! Why should whether Corbu knew about it have anything to do with it? New information is found out all the time, it does not always start and finish with Corbu!
Smith prefers to believe that the treasure under the Magdala Tower claim begins with the journalist in that 1967 article poking a bit of fun at a priest with a pretty young maid servant. And of course the silly idea put forward by Smith is just that, silly, as Smith already knows - because he has discussed the strict rules Sauniere wrote in his diary and letters on how relations with female maid servants should be conducted [on his own website].
No, the so-called treasure story under the Magdala Tower came from Genibrel and private family information. Smith writes: Anyhow, things escalated about this to such a degree that moves were undertaken to officially excavate the Tour Magdala (sponsored by the John Merrill Foundation) to seriously look for “Saunière's treasure chest” .
Yes, directly on information given to them by Genibrel! Not because they read this 1967 article!
Smith finishes with the following; However, the article by Pierre Sourbès in L'Indépendant wasn't entirely a damp squib because amongst other inaccuracies it concluded that Saunière did not discover a treasure, but that his wealth originated from the selling of masses.
Smith reports this as if it was something new & amazing that yet again someone was reporting the 'selling of masses' scenario. But its the year 1967, when de Sede published his books and de Sede also reported that many felt Sauniere's financial gains came from selling masses - its just that de Sede didn't believe that was the whole story!
HERE you can see reproduction of part of an article which was published in one of the earliest Journal of the Rennes Alchemist's issues. Jean Genibrel and i had corresponded briefly when Eisenman was carrying out some work at Rennes-le-Chateau. The work at Rennes, i believe, was in fact being carried out as a direct result of knowledge that Genibrel held [from prior family knowledge] regarding something buried under the Tour Magdala by Sauniere himself. Much later there was a TV programme which referred to these excavations & which we can see HERE [i confess i did find it a little suspicious].
A newspaper article from 1967 reported the following:
The image above is from this website.
.... that "The workers also talked. When digging the foundations of the Tour Magdala, they say, [the workers, that] Saunière came to join them, carrying in his coat, a crate of wood about the "size of a baby." With his own hands, he buried the box in an excavation, and waited as cement [was] poured over ..."
Canadian and US scientists went to the village in the Aude in search of the mysterious treasure that attracts 100,000 curious people yearly. The story begins as an adventure - Jean-François Lhuilier, Mayor of Rennes-le-Château, receives a letter from one Jean-Louis Genibrel, an American citizen residing in Long Beach, California which here are the basics:
"I know that at the beginning of the construction of the Magdala tower in Rennes-le-Château (... my grandfather of a cousin (of my aunt) was the site manager, and helped Abbe Berenger Sauniere to bury at least one box and other objects under the foundation the tower, just under the corner stone. "
Mr. Génibrel confirmed the words of his cousin, and the name of his grandfather as Louis BOUSQUET. The death certificate of Abbé Saunière, provides additional information on the activities of Mr. Louis Bousquet:
"The twenty-third day of January, one thousand nine hundred and seventeen, at eleven in the morning on the Declaration Pierre Captier, fifty-nine, farmer, resident in this county, neighbour of the victim, and Louis Bousquet, forty-five years, stonecutter, living in this county, friend of the deceased, the death certificate having Read over, then both signed with me, Victor Rivière, maire de Rennes-le-Château"
Signé: Rivière, Captier, Bousquet
This interview is from my fellow French researcher's [Johan Netchacovitch] website HERE... make of it what you will! [I say 'strange' in respect of the answers given to questions around the purpose of the 'Stone & Paper' document and also the comments about the Tisseyre document purporting to show that Marie de Negre's tombstone was an invention!]
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Now let's talk about "Pierre et Papier"...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Not waiting for the question) It was Philippe who drew up the parchments. He explains everything in this book. Everything is explained there and I cannot understand why people keep asking about this text. I myself have already explained in detail the context in which the Priory of Sion was founded. Just read my books and articles – I am most certainly NOT going to constantly repeat myself!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Jean-Luc, you've certainly had a lot to say about the subject – several books, special editions of magazines, articles and so on - that's why a synthesis would be useful for our web surfers...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Silence) OK, go ahead! I'm listening!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: The forty pages or so of "Pierre et Papier" are rather vague. Philippe de Chérisey repeats himself and is sometimes quite obscure. He also makes some extraordinary errors considering that he himself forged the parchments. The publishers Pégase had to mention several times in footnotes that de Chérisey got the two parchments confused in his explanations. OK, so he makes the same mistake each time, but surely he could have read the text through after he’d written it? Did he write it all at one sitting? You get the impression that it's all just a rough draft, and yet he asked you to publish it. You would have thought that he would have given you a finished product!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Philippe was a poet, and a Surrealist poet to boot! He had a keen sense of farce and satire. What do you expect? In this document he expresses himself just like he expresses himself in his other writings, by allusion, shifts of meaning, implications. He always liked to play to the gallery, to be a sort of illusionist. That was how he was working here too.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: His style is very close to that of the novel "Livre à vendre", which he co-authored with Roland Dubillard and which was published by Jean-Claude Simoën in 1977. The only difference is really the kind of writing? That was a novel, this is an essay!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (In a peremptory tone) No, absolutely not! I repeat: he liked to play around with words and ideas. Philippe was a Surrealist poet – his whole life was based on word-play, on humour. That was his trade!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: So if we understand you correctly, we shouldn't really look to the second part of "Pierre et Papier" – the bit devoted to the explanation of the text "Bergère, pas de tentation..." – for an interpretation of anything? It's just a Surrealist text and is meant to be taken as such... Isn't that rather strange for someone whose stated aim was to "finally show how this little farce was actually put together" (as you say on page 78)?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (In a conciliatory tone) OK, I'll give you some explanations... Philippe de Chérisey was a great sentimentalist. Few know about the tragedy that occurred on a certain road near Rennes-les-Bains. It was there that he lost his loved one in a road accident... For him, the tearful poet, the phrase in the encipherment of the Small Parchment, "A DAGOBERT II ROI ET A SION EST CE TRESOR ET IL EST LA MORT", is not a reference to gold, to documents of enormous important to humanity, to a Christ-like revelation or whatever! No, it's Philippe de Chérisey paying homage to his loved one, who is "LA MORT(e)" ("there dead"). Should we regard the LA as an article (la = the) or as an adverb (là = there)? Well, it was certainly intended as an adverb, but it's not a reference to a sacred treasure, or to the cave of Ali Baba, it's a reference to a loved one lost forever.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: But he also undertook researches with Pierre Plantard and yourself at Serbaïrou in Rennes-les-Bains.
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Yes, but his treasure, the treasure he's talking about, was his fiancée! He has said so elsewhere.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Yes indeed! "My dear Roseline, who died on 6 August 1967, the feast of the Transfiguration, while leaving the zero meridian by car." (p. 108). The heart of de Chérisey's explanations relates to the "Large Parchment". Many passages are vague and...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Interrupting) But there's nothing to be understood – Philippe was wearing his Surrealist hat when he wrote that. None of the passages that you’re quoting need to be deciphered – they lead nowhere. Philippe was simply amusing himself by laying a few red herrings, by saying something and then saying just the opposite...
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: OK, that's as may be! But de Chérisey writes: "For as long as the inquisitive are able to get their hands on this old issue of the Bulletin I shall remain only a semi-successful hoaxer (sic), in other words the inheritor of a hoax that was put together some 60 years ago" (p.100). So unless he is successful in persuading the reader that the Tisseyre document, which appeared in the Bulletin of SESA (Societé d’Etudes Scientifiques de l’Aude) in 1905, never actually existed, his explanation is simply worthless! He is counting on the article disappearing at the hands of the "researchers" after the publication of "Pierre et Papier"! So he obviously wanted to get his book into print very quickly. Let's recall that he drafted the document in 1970.
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Ignoring the implied question) Look, I'm going to tell you something... The Tisseyre document is an invention. Or, more precisely, Tisseyre invented a so-called summary, which was written in 1905, and which he published in the Bulletin of SESA. Thanks to this article he is able to give credence to the existence of the tombstone at this period in the cemetery of Rennes-le-Château and to cover up a trafficking in relics and archaeological finds which he had launched with Bérenger Saunière. Obviously they could not be accused of stealing a stone that had been catalogued in 1905...!!!
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: ... That's a rather strange explanation, especially since the Tisseyre document was published in "L'Or de Rennes", along with the reference to SESA, in 1967, in other words THREE years before "Pierre et Papier" was drafted. The researchers would have had plenty of time to check it out... As for the trafficking, Tisseyre mentions several people in the article who would obviously not be able to respond to this false allegation!!! But why mention and explain this extract when it would have been sufficient just to say that in 1970 de Chérisey had all he needed to create these parchments...
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: (Continuing his theme) It's a real scoop! I should add that "Pierre et Papier" was annotated by Philippe de Chérisey but that, for publishing reasons, the editor Pierre Jarnac of Editions Pégase did not reproduce the annotations.
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: That's a shame – they might have shed some light on the document!
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Yes, I told the editor as much but, to make the document more legible, he left the annotations out. (Editor's Note: Jean-Luc Chaumeil confirmed these statements during two telephone calls in September and October 2006)
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: One problem with de Chérisey's sources was raised by the discovery of the original text of the "Small Parchment", the famous Codex Bezae. Why doesn't he mention this unique source?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Ah, that takes us to the very heart of the Plantard-Chérisey system! I'm not going to go over again what I've already written on your (internet) forums, but certain people obviously just don't want to understand... It gets annoying in the end. Pierre Plantard knew about the book by Fulcran Vigouroux and decided to "arrange" for the paternity of the parchments as it were to be attributed to Philippe. Citing Dom Cabrol was a red herring, a blind. It was the same with the magazine "CIRCUIT", another blind that appeared in several different versions. I'll give you another example... In an interview that Philippe granted me in 1973 he explained the origin of the Codex: "..I took the ancient uncial text at the Bibliothèque Nationale from the work of Dom Cabrol, Christian Archaeology, Shelf C25". I went there in person and what did I find in the shelf next to the one you mentioned? On shelf B was the Fulcran Vigouroux. That's a good example of the sort of traps and red herrings that those two specialised in. They would give a vague indication of something, but only the really curious inquirer would ever get onto the right track!!! In the light of that example I can state that Pierre Plantard was aware of the Fulcran Vigouroux manuscript! And anyone who’s not prepared to admit that are leading themselves astray...
Gazette de Rennes-le-Château: Let's talk about how this quartet worked. What were relations like between them? Who made the decisions?
Jean-Luc Chaumeil: Pierre Plantard pulled the strings and presided over everything. He often gave us only partial and often differing information. That created tensions. Often I found that I didn't have all the information I needed to follow up a line of enquiry and that Philippe and Gérard had received different information! That was how Plantard worked. The unspoken word, the allusion – it was a way of setting people against one another. It also sprang from a desire to keep us all under his thumb!
I noticed on the web site of Johan Netchacovitch that Thierry E. Garnier referred to an old postcard of the area of Rennes-les-Bains. He said "This is actually an old postcard of Rennes-les-Bains, rather confidential and only known to some researchers, but to my knowledge, it has never been presented and discussed with very critical apparatus - the important point, and that [which] is very disturbing is that the editor of this map is a member of the in-laws of Henri Boudet and this card was issued between the years 1900-1910, at a time when Boudet was still alive ..."
We have discussed this postcard on this website a while ago [date 24/11/2014] - HERE - here is the postcard reproduced below:
Garnier goes on to say: The curiosity of this card is found in the following statement: "Les Pierre Plantees' are a part of the Celtic Cromleck" ...! As if by magic and the incredible new found postcard reality, that the "cromlech of Rennes-les-Bains" was finally seen [with it's new] "photographic" existence. I find it fascinating ...! For the rest, as it is part of the original research of Franck Daffos and that this rare postcard belongs to him, it will be him, of course, to disclose more about the subject".
So it is causing some excitement! However, the postcard is not so rare and is part of a series ....see HERE. And it is not the only postcard to refer to the Celtic Cromleck of Henri Boudet!
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.