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?]".
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.