Rennes le Château : The Mystery
Rennes Le Chateau
In the 11th century the decline of Rhedae began. Ermengarde, the inheritor, daughter of a Count of Carcassonne and wife of a Vicomte of Beziers, suddenly sold all of Rhedezium to the house of Barcelona. Her descendants, the Trencavel family, later came to claim their rights of possession and once again tie themselves to the Count of Carcassonne. But in 1170, the King of Aragon, Alphonse II, claimed his rights as a pretender over Rhedezium, seized Rhedac which he destroyed, saving only the citadel "du haut" which stayed in the hands of the Trencavel family.
In 1209, under cover of fighting against the Cathar Heresy, the Rhazes was put to blood and flre by Simon de Montfort and his crusaders, who were sent by the King of France, Philippe Auguste, to subdue the powerful Languedoc and re-tie the lands to the French Crown. dismantled and ruined it became a simple stranded small town, and it fell to Lieutenant Pierre de Voisins who became the founder of a new dynasty.
Today many ossuaries hear witness to the bloody battles which took place in the area during all this period. Tracing the present access road in 1908, the workmen discovered an impressive ossuary (several hundred metres long), with skeletons laid and stacked up six to eight layers high oriented East/West. Another was discovered at the Pasdu-Loup near the fortress ramparts; and recently while digging then foundations for the water tower on the parking place, workmen discovered a natural rift full of skeletons thrown in haphazardly. The fault was immediately tilled in and the sub foundation of the water tower was displaced.
The grand-son of Pierre de Voisins partially restored Rhedae and built a church dedicated to his patron saint: The Church of Saint Peter, It was also Pierre de Voisins who began the construction of the present château The plateau became covered with houses and roads and once again Rhedac became the main town of a powerful castellan
Alas! not for long.
Suddenly "les routiers", an armed horde of "soldiers of fortune" pillaged and created terror wherever they passed, swooping, howling on the city, burning the houses, ruining the harvests and mercilessly slaughtering the inhabitants.
Soon afterwards the Count Henri de Trastamarre, a fearsome bandit, loomed up from Spain, destroying everything in his path and then he too besieged an already agonising Rhedac. It was disastrous.
In spite of the heroic resistance of the Voisins; the ferocious ruffians, specialised in atrocities, razed the fortifications, destroyed the church of Saint Peter, and crushed all that remained of the proud citadel.
As if such a dreadful slaughter was not enough, the plague then took its turn striking the small handful of those who had escaped.
Hence, the city of Rhedae disappeared forever, whereas her twin, the city of Carcassonne is still intact to relate to us these 20 centuries of history. In a "eomte"' which became the Rhazés there is now only a small village : Rennes-le-Chateau, with houses tucked away around the château of the Voisins family and the church of Saint Magdalen.
The name of the Voisins family was extinguished when their last daughter Jeanne married a Lord de Marquefave of Spanish origin. Blanche de Marquefave, born from this marriage, then married Pierre Raymond d'Hautpoul and as dowry gave him the barony of Rennes.
Henri Baron d'Hautpoul immediately took the title of Seigneur de Blanchefort. The last Marquis de Blanchefort mated Marie de Negre Dables who was of a large family from the plateau de Sault in 1732. She was left a widow 30 years later with no male heir.
Marie de Negre Dables-Dame d'Hautpoul de Blanehefort died in the chateau of Rennes on the 17th January, 1781 at the age of 67.
But it is as if Rhedae never wished to die, and the date of this end became the beginning of an incredible story.
THE ABBE ANTOINE BIGOU
In January 1781, the Lady d'Hautpoul de Blanchefort, trustee of a great secret which had been passed down in her family from generation to generation, felt that the moment had come to follow her husband into the family vault. Having no sons she decided to confide this secret, along with some documents of considerable importance, to her confessor the abbé Antoine Bigou, who had been the parish priest for 7 years in Rennesle-château.
The lady died peacefully on January 17th, 1781, asking the abbé in his turn to pass on the mysterious secret to someone worthy of receiving it.
The abbé was terrified by what he had learnt, even more so as France was in a commotion of political events which would lead to the revolution of 1789. After deep reflection on the matter, he hid the documents in the Visigoth pillar which held up the altar in the church of Saint Magdalen. During these troubled times, in fear of his life, he decided to entrust to the stone pillar all that was to be passed on to future generations.
Completing his ideas in 1791, he had a large gravestone placed and laid flat on the tomb of the Marquise, engraved with Latin inscriptions one of which "ET IN ARCADIA EGO" was in Greek lettering. He had this flagstone removed and transported from the "Tomb of ARQUES"(l) (a small funeral monument situated on the 0 meridian, between the villages of Peyrolles and Serres, at the hamlet of Pontils, on the road leading to the Col de Paradis on the way to Narbonne).
At the head of this tombstone he had another stone erected which intentionally draws our attention to numerous irregularities inserted in the epitaph, a cryptogram whose correct interpretation he thought would lead to a secret place.(2)
Inside his church, at the time of the revolution, he considered it a good idea to turn face down an extremely old sculptured stone which showed a knight and a child on the same horse.
Very soon afterwards, in 1792, after having been declared a rebellious priest, it became necessary for him to flee to Sabadell in Spain where he died 18 months later. He had now given the "Great Secret" orally to the Abbé Cauneille, an exile like himself, who in turn passed it on to two other priests.
-The Abbé Jean Vié, the parish priest of Rennesles-Bains from 1840 to 1870.
-The Abbé Emile Francois Cayron, the parish priest of St Laurent de la Cabrerisse in the Aude, at the same period.
But what did they really know? That a colossal and priceless treasure lay buried somewhere in the Rhazés, around Rennes-le-Chateau and Rennes-les-Bains, in twelve hidden places which had been indicated to the abbé - Bigou by the Marquise de Blanchefort. The former had left a coded message, of which he had inserted "a key" in the epitaph of the Marquise. They also knew of the existence of documents which had an extraordinary historical importance.
Two priests would later know how to take advantage of them:
- Abbé Bérenger Saunière, who was born in Montazels in the "Haute Vallée de l'Aude" and was made the parish priest of Rennes-le-Château June 1st 1885.
- Abbé Henri Boudet who succeeded Jean Vié as the parish priest of Rennes-lesBains. From a poor family in Quillan, he was intentionally educated and formed by the Abbé Cayron.
The presbytery was uninhabitable, the church run-down. But the Abbé, a handsome man of 33, was full of energy. During the parliamentary elections of October 1885, from his rocky pulpit held up by an ancient pillar. he encouraged his parishioners to vote against the republicans, a party who were against the Catholic Church. But the republicans were victorious, the priest was exiled to the seminary in Narbonne and his income was stopped.
At the request of his parishioners he was reinstated the following year, or perhaps it was thanks to the Abbé Boudet. He then began the most important restoration work using donations which were given by monarchist sympathisers; a noble lady gave a new altar; the local council voted a small loan.
Then an emissary of the Comtesse de Chambord (originally a Habsbourg) arrived. She had been widowed two years previously, her husband had been a pretender to the Crown of France, and last descendant of the Bourbon family. Had he become King it would have been under the name of Henry V. This envoy, who called himself Monsieur Guillaume, and who later often returned to watch over the restoration work, gave the cur6 the fabulous sum of 3 000 francs, a fortune at the time. This was in return for looking for and finding any precious documents hidden in the church that he would then transmit to him, in particular those which the Abbé Bigou had considered explosive to Rennes-le-château. Rennes-le-Château was certainly not a place unknown to the countess, since a Seigneur de Hautpoul, tutor to her husband, had struggled to place him on the throne of France, in the pIace of Louis XVII, the legitimate son of the "Lys a la tête coupée" (Louis XVI), who allegedly escaped from the Temple. (3) A document proving the survival of Louis XVII hidden at Rennes-le-Château by this of the Hautpoul family would have explosive in many ways. All the more so because the Count de Chambord apparently confided in his wife that he himself believed in this survival. Monsieur Guillaume, in reality Johann of Habsbourg, Archduke of Austro-Hungaria nicknamed "L'Etranger".(the foreigner) by the village people), would later be a constant visitor to Bérenger Saunière at the villa Bethania.
Enigmatic taciturn, thin and sickly, but an indefatigable walker, the Abbé Boudet, then aged 50 was a highly cultured and erudite man , especially in the fields of archaeology md incient languages. Meanwhile, the abbé Saunière was busy turning over the old church top to bottom. Henri Boudet published a strunge book entitled "La Vraie Langue Celtique et Le Cromleck de Rennes-les-Bains." (The True Celtic Language and the Stone Circle of Rennes-les-Bains), criticised from the moment of its publication as a fantastical indescribable work". Only the Reverend Father Vannier was close to the truth when he wrote "The abbé Boudet is the keeper of a secret which could be the cause of major upheavals".ln fact this book, full of humour and patent absurdities, completely at odds with the personality of the author, conceals between its lines the mysterious secret of the Hautpoul de Blanchefon, and gives the exact location of 12 chests each of which can be opened with a special number.
The abbé Boudet himself reveals from the outset the object of the decoding - " to penetrate the secret of a local story, by the interpretation of a word composed in a foreign language". And in fact it is true that the contents of the book are incomprehensible to anyone who is not in possession of the keys. To be exact, the author prides himself on page 26 on "speaking a certain jargon from the outside". And on page 11 there is an interesting passage which relates to the keys....
A strange book, and a strange priest, who, during his ministry at Rennes-les-Bains, took time to falsify grave stones in the cemetery and alter the surrounding area, changing the location of certain stone crosses and creating new ones.
Disappointed at the way his book was received, the abbé Boudet then devised a plan to immortalize the Hautpoul secret which he held, in the stones of the St Magdalen church, by decorating it in such a way that it would provide the perfect illustration of his book. He chose the new cure Bérenger Saunière, protégé of the Bishop Monseigneur Arsene Billard, to carry out this project.
"Dans toute affaire cherchez Ia femme", is a French saying. As concerns the "affaire" of Rennes we find a simple hat maker of 20, Marie Denarnaud , who came into the service of the abbé Saunière at the same time as her family. As though by chance she became his confidante and his help in eet, to the extent that. later, all the donations intended for the Abbé Saunière would be personally addressed to her and in his will she was made sole heir of all he possessed.
Through her presence, her constant vigilance, her authority and feigned docility, she played a large pan in the strange activities of the Abbé Saunière. Faithful to her obligations she unceasingly pushed him into a predestined route, a route paved with gold from which they both benefitted to lead a lavish existence, all the while reassigning a part of this wealth to the moving spirit for whom the abbe Boudet was certainly merely a front. (Did not Alfred Saunière, in a letter he wrote, ironizes about the fact that he "was obeying orders"?).
Dressed in the latest Paris fashions, wearing strange antique jewelry about her neck, Marinette moved arrogantly among these villagers who nicknamed her "La Madone". Nonetheless, out of respect , when she became aged and wrinkled, the villagers would refer to her as "Mademoiselle Marie" when they spoke of her. Day and night she would faithfully visit the graveyard, on a sort of pilgrimage, unless she was having strange meetings with... spirits?
Very superstitious. and above all fearing the devil and his evil deeds, she never betrayed the secret, and died in 1953, aged 85, taking it with her to her grave.
THE EARLY RESTORATION WORK
Benefitting from the donations he had received, the abbé Saunière then began the restoration of the church. He started by removing the old altar, a simple rough piece of stone, cemented on one side into the wall on the right of the apse, and supported on the other by two old pillars, one of which had a "cross of silence" sculptured on it, a symbol frequently used by the Visigoths.
During the handling of this heavy piece, a flagstone was broken, revealing a hiding-place. In side, they found a container filled with pieces of gold, and a treasure, apparently that of the local nobles, entrusted to their cure Antoine Bigou, in order that it might be safely hidden in the church before they escaped abroad, driven by the execution of Louis XVI and me fall of the monarchy.
After this discovery, the work was postponed and tongues began to wag, especially when Elie Bot, Verdier and Rousset, who were helping with the restoration work, said they had seen the priest removing a wooden tube with wax seals on it from inside the "capsa" (the hiding-place intended to hold the relies of the saint venerated in the church). Later it was said that this tube contained two parchments and a manuscript.
The latter, decoded by the abbé Boudet, gave the perfect anagram of the epitaph of the marquise, as well as the following message:
BERGERE PAS DE TENTATION
QUE POUSSIN TENJERS GARDENT LA CLEF PAX 681
PAR LA CROIX ET CE CHEVAL DE DIEU
J'ACHEVE CE DAEMON DE GARDIEN A MIDI POMMES BLEUES.
(shepherdess no temptation that Poussin Teniers hold me key Pax 681 By the cross and this horse of God I dispatch this guardian demon at midday Blue apples).
This message refers to the church at St. Sulpice, an esoteric temple copied from the Temple of Solomon and finished at the time of the death of the marquise, on the territory of the abbéy of St. Germain des Pres, where the Merovingian kings were buried up until the construction of the basilica at St. Denis. It encourages the person who understands the message to remain silent, and not to do anything without receiving orders from his superiors, before the year 1891.
Why 1891? Because the epitaph of the marquise clearly indicates this date. Since her death occurred in 1781, the inscription should have read
XVII JANVIER MDCCLXXI =1781
but Antoine Bigou intentionally engraved XVII JANVIER MDCOLXXXI, replacing the second century with a 0, which does not exist in Roman numerals. Therefore we skip it te read MDCLXXXI :1681. If we use this 0, which reminds us of the zero meridian which passes through both St.Sulpice and Rennes-les-Bains, as épivot, to turn the date around, we get 1891 instead of 1681.
In effect it was in this year that Bérenger Saunière made the famous discovery which he describes in the following manner in his journal (visible in the museum):"Letter from Cranes- DISCOVERY OF A TOMB - Rain." Let us examine the events surrounding this discovery. Everything was upside down in the church after the start of the restoration work, the discovery of the hiding-place with its treasure and the parchments. The workmen had been asked to leave for a break, so that the priest might have free reign to carry out his own research. But the elderly verger of the church (whose name was Antoine Captier, and whose grandson and namesake now runs the museum here) had to ring the angelus for the evening service as usual.On his way down from the bell tower, he suddenly saw something shining in the top part of the old wooden baluster which had been thrown on its side during the restoration work. The piece of wood which enclosed the niche where there was wedged a phial containing a rolled-up parchment had dropped out when it fell.
What should he do with such a discovery except take it straight to the curé who not only knew how to read and write, but was also familiar with ancient alphabets? Undeniably, the discovery of the phial marked the beginning of the era of Saunierés wealth. On the paper signed by Jean Bigou, uncle of Antoine Bigou, and his predecessor as priest of the parish, was written a clue which led to the site where the pillar had been, not far from where the workmen had discovered the stone hastily turned face down by Antoine Bigou a hundred years previously. It was indeed the same stone as described in the paper. In the cache was a skull, pierced by a ritual incision, like those carried out on the dead in the Merovingian era so that their souls might escape heavenwards ... and the entrance to a vault which the abbé immediately cleared away using his tools. Then he discovered steps which led down beneath the church (4). The "Dalle des Chevaliers" was the point of access to the tomb, but it was arranged to look like a hiding-place. Furthermore, the old parish register, dated 1694 (which can be seen in the museum), mentions at this exact location, the presence of the tomb of the "seigneurs de Rennes".
From this day onward, Bérenger Saunière and Marie Denarnaud lived as though they had access to an inexhaustible fortune. It is possible that they discovered the crypt and pillaged the tombs. What magnificent discovery did they make which enabled them to lead such a grand lifestyle and to flout everyone including the abbé Boudet, the Bishop, and the Vatican?
AN INTERESTING GROTTO
Then a strange game began. On the pretext of building a grotto on the village square on which the abbé wanted to make a garden, Marie and the cure went out to collect decorative stones in the vallee of the Bals, south of the village where the 'ruisseau de Couleurs' flows and where grottoes and natural faults go back into the rock, forming galleries and chambers, one of which could well be the "fabulous room" (the abbé later bought a piece of land on this spot).
The Visigothic pillar of the old altar, reduced and shortened, was placed in the small garden against -the wall of the old stables. On June 21St, 1891, year of the recognition of the cult of St. Mary, Bérenger Saunière had a crude statue of the Virgin Mary placed on this base after a procession bearing the statue had wound its way through the village streets, and after he had engraved at the bottom "Mission 1891", are a probable reminder of his own mission here. (5)
MR ERNEST CROS
This elderly engineer, graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique, and a retired railway employee. used to spend his holidays in Quillan, where his wife owned the baths at Ginoles, He is worthy of mention for the role he played in the Rennes affair.
A dedicated archaeologist, fascinated by ancient stones, he accused his friend Bérenger Saunière of treating these historical pieces with contempt. to the point of placing the "Dalle des Chevaliers" on the floor as a step, exposed to the elements, in front of the hase of the statue of the Virgin Mary, and of erasing the inscriptions on the horizontal tombstone of the marquise of Blanehefort.
It is thanks to the writings of Mr. Cros that we know of the existence in the cemetery of the gaivestone known as "Et In Arcadia Ego", which the abbé erased and had transported to be placed on top of the ossuary.
It was also Mr. Cros who discovered in the surrounding area the Templar stone of Coumesourde, which, to this day, remains an enigma as regards its presentation as much as its origin. (6)
THE TWO PARCHMENTS
The two parchments found in the sculptured Visigothie pillar of the altar could only be translated by a paleographer. Boudet suggested to the Abbé Saunière that he ask the Bishop of Careassonne, Monseigneur Felix Billard (well known for his taste for luxury), in short, eventual protector in financial affairs, who sent Saunière to Saint Sulpice to take orders from there, According to the book listing the celebration of masses, Saunière stayed in Paris for five days in March 1892. At Saint Sulpice, he was introduced to Emile Iloffet, famous occultist, author of many studies of freemasonry. He also met the singer Emma Calvc linked with Joseph Pdladan, who in 1891 founded the cabbalistic order of "la ROSE+CROIX DU TEMPLE FT DU GRAAL" (the Rose Cross of the Temple and the Grail) with the Count de Laroehefoucauld.
These people would later often be his guests at Rennes-le-château.
The entire symbolism to Saint Sulpice evokes the countryside around Rennes-les-Bains had the secrets hidden there. Bérenger Saunière brought back reproductions of three paintings from Paris including
- Lé, Bergers d1Arcadie, by Nicolas Poussin, painted during the reign of Louis XIII, between l6é'9 and 1639. We can see the tomb of Arques with the countryside around Blancheton in the background, and the inscription " In Arcadia Ego" on the tomb of the marquise
- Li Tentation de St.Antoine, by David Teniers the Younger, painted around the same time St Antoine is celebrated on January 17th, the date engraved on the tomb of the marquise
As soon as he returned from Paris, the abbé carefully covered over the cache beneath the "Dalle des Chevaliers". Then he and his servant began some very strange activities in the graveyard. Although a sepulcher ought to be considered sacrosanct, they displaced the horizontal tombstone of the dame d'Hautpoul and put it on the ossuary which they created. They also erased the inscriptions on the stone, and they continued their work in the daytime, without the slightest respect either for the dead or their descendants. When the local population reacted and questioned their activities they were told that the aim was to make room' in the graveyard. Finally a complaint was lodged by the mayor at the local police station. Were the two of them simply pillaging the tombs, even going so far as to carefully sieve the earth in certain places, searching for jewels and precious stones?
THE MAJOR CONSTRUCTIONS
While Bérenger Saunière was traveling in France and abroad, never for longer than a week, bringing back subsidies, money orders were arriving from all over Europe in the name of Marie Denarnaud, most frequently from religious communities which would later lead to the Abbé being accused of trafficking in masses.
The restoration of the church continued, and impressive amounts of money were spent on it. Decorator-artists were brought from Italy, and even though they were extremely pernickety in the quality of their work, Saunière was very demanding about the slightest detail, and frequently made them undo and redo parts of their work with which he was discontent. A secret room was constructed behind the sacristy, to which access was gained through the back of a row of cupboards.
To the great satisfaction of the two abbés the church was finally finished and inaugurated in 1897, According to letters owned by various individuals, the restoration work alone cost 350 million centimes.
After the inauguration of the church, work continued elsewhere in the village. Constructions were erected on land bought at a high price in Marinettés name
- a neogothic tower christencd Magdala.
- an attractivc house in the Renaissance style - the villa Bethania.
- a semi-circular gallery hugging the side of the cliff with at the end of it ,
a second tower, crowned with a conservatory.
- an orangerie.
- a park with fountains and even a menagerie.
The visitors were surprised and the church people scandalized by such a display of wealth.
Immodest, like many "nouveaux riche", Bérenger Saunière led "the grand life", cheerfully throwing money out of the window, entertaining famous personalities in a princely way, but also many other more questionable characters, to the great despair of the abbé Boudet who often made bitter comments.
Slowly, after 1903, things began to change. Monseigneur Billard had died the previous year. Then it was the turn of the Pope Léon XIII, a liberal-minded man and a protector of the Habsbourg family to leave this life. The lavish expenses incurred by the abbé Saunierés projects were so excessive that it became difficult for him to handle.
He altered, and became a different man : cold, calculating and pretentious. With the new Pope Pius X and the new Bishop of Careassonne, Monseigneur de Beausdjour, he found two enemies eager to bring him down.
From 1909, after the splendour, came the dark period, that of interminable court cases and a lack of money. To subsist with the ever-faithful Marinette he was obliged to sell his expensive furniture, his silverware and his various collections. And to conclude the situation the Vatican condemned him to a "suspens a divinis", which meant that he was deprived of his sacerdotal rights. The abbé Marty was nominated as the new priest at Rennes.
The Bishop made it clear that he would wipe the board clean if the abbé would return everything that he had misappropriated. But it had all already been put in Mariés name... Overwhelmed by this condemnation, the abbe began to develop serious health problems.
And then, miraculously, everything was resolved when the abbé Boudet on his deathbed revealed the great secret of Rennes, and the location of one of the mysterious treasures, and when the new Pope Benoit XV, taking the same liberal views as Léon XIII, lifted all the sanctions which had been imposed by the previous Bishop.
After 30 years of troubles, Bérenger and Marie were at last the grand masters of Rennes. They would be united by an unfailing complicity until their deaths.
The abbé Saunière rediscovered his enthusiasm and vitality, and once again took the train from Couiza to an unknown destination, returning laden with gold.
He then continued to spend enormous sums, making more and more extravagant projects, also signing an estimate for work to be carried out by his building contractor Elie Bot, from Couiza, which totaled some eight thousand million centimes.
Until the day when Marinette discovered him prostrate in front of the Tour Magdala, on January 17th, 1917 - what a strange family coincidence!
After having passed on the secret to his friend the abbé Riviere of Esperaza the cure of Rennes-le-Château died on January 22nd 1917, And later, the abbé Riviere, as he had promised, transmitted "le Grand Secret" to another man of the cloth... might it not have been the abbé Mazières?
The story may have ended there, but we are not yet finished After both Boudet and Saunière had passed away, Rennes-le-Chateau once again became calm, and was able to shed its tears and pay homage to those who gave their lives in the 14-18 war.
The church tried to hush up the matter, putting pressure on Marie Denarnaud to sell the property. And memories faded with the passing of time...
When the faithful Marie burnt certain private papers which had once belonged to the Abbé Saunière in the garden, as he had asked her to do before his death, might she perhaps have kept some as he had requested, to hide them in a safe place?
Anything is possible. The Archduke Rudolph of Habsbourg, descendant of the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor came in person to Rennes in January 1975 after having spoke at length with the abbé Mazières who was in retirement at "Bethanie" in Carcassonne. Why?
On Janliary 21st, 1953, Marie Denarnaud passsed away, having left all she possessed to M, and Mdme. Noel Corbo
It was pure chance which led Monsieur Corbu, an industrialist, to the plateau of Rennes, and a miracle which made Mademoiselle Marie consent to open her door to give him some water for the family picnic.
It is true that his education and culture distinguished him from the average sort of person who would usually knock at the elderly lady's door asking for information. Also his personality perhaps reminded her of those she had frequently met while the abbé was alive, in the now-distant past when she had shone in the skies of Rennes.
In fact, Noel Corbu was not just anybody. He was a doctor of sciences, and was related on his father's side to the Cartimpre family, on his mother's side to the Waldeck Rousseau family and to the house of the Bourbons of Spain. Always courteous, little by little he won the confidence of Marie to the extent that she allowed him to move into the villa Bethania with his family.
In July 1946, Marie made Noel and Itenriette Corbu legitimate heirs to her estate. Then M. Corbu went on his own to Morocco to try to set up a sugar refinery. But his failure soon brought him back to Rennes, in 1950.
To support his family he opened a hotel restaurant "La Tour", counting on the incredible beauty of the landscape and the history of the treasure to attract clients. Hence, it was Noel Corbu who revealed the "Rennes affair" to a large international pubic, explaining it in his own way, while desperately continuing to search everywhere for the famous treasure.
And Marie would tease him, saying "Don't worry so much about it Noel. One day I will tell you a secret which will make you a rich man... a very rich man...!"
However! Very recently a person fascinated by the history of Rennes had an article published in the press saying that "after inheriting in 1920, some books which once belonged to the abbé Boudet, he bad found amongst the pages of "Maison Pittoresque" (by the same author as 'La Vraie Langue Celtiqué), a fragment of an act dated 4th March 1747, which mentioned that under the altar of a certain church on the site there was a crypt containing four tombs and two chests which held various documents and old books... "and a request that the existence of the crypt should remain secret ... the owner of the first half of the left mysterious parchment sent out a request to whoever might be in possession of the other half...". (Magazine Mysteria, April 1990).
In 1960, the Corbu family sold the domain to a man from Lyon, M. Henri Buthion, who is still the owner today.
THE TREASURES ACCORDING TO LOCAL TRADITION
410 - Visigoth gold, with a large part of the treasure of Solomon, including the solid gold seven-branched candlestick belonging to the Jews, of which all trace was lost after Its arrival in Carcassonne. Carcassonne had become a frontier town when the Franks had advanced. It is not entirely unfeasible to suppose that their loot was transported in haste to Rhedae, which was powerfully protected.
The use of aerial photography would today reveal the presence of a gigantic monument, which according to all probability was nothing other than the pantheon of the Visigothic monarchs. And if we remember that the Kings were buried with their greatest riches... (9)
650 - Dagobert's treasure from the wars.
1240 - Blanche de Castillés treasure, representing the ransom money for her son St.Louis, imprisoned by the Infidels. She hid this treasure in the Rhazes when she learned of the death of her son at the hands of his captors.
1244 - The Cathar treasure, which disappeared from Montsegur when the Cathars surrendered to the troops of Simon de Montfon. In 1950 a mysterious individual, claiming to be a descendant of one of the heretics responsible for smuggling the treasure out of the besieged citadel said he caine to Rennes-le-Chateati on a pilgrimage to the site where his ancestor had hidden the Cathar treasure. (see l'Heritage de l'Abbé Saunière) The
Treasure of the kingdom of Majorca - according to the abbé Mazieres.
The Results of Pillaging - There are local tales of a Lord of Rennes who attacked the convoys of money which crossed the Spanish border in both directions.
Other Rumours - for example it may be an object of power which renders he who possesses it invincible: - The Holy Grail, the Menornih, the Ark of the Covenant, the sword of Charles Martel, the talisman of Hitler...
A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT such as the marriage certificate of Jesus and Mary Magdalen, suggesting that their descendants may still be alive today. Therefore the mystery of Rennes-le-Château is in reality an attempt to set out the idea of the re-establishment of the Merovingian monarchy on the throne of France, and perhaps of Europe.
History proves the existence of gold-mines at the Roc-Negre and at Auriac, and of a mint during Charlemagnés reign. Also counterfeit coins were produced at Bezu by the Seigneur of Rennes' own son-in-law and by the nephew of the Pope at the time.
RECENT DISCOVERIES - 20 kg of gold in a wood, 50 kg of gold in a field, a result of imperfect melting-down of Arabian coins. Many private individuals possess liturgical objects, as well as extremely old and rare jewels which were given to them by the abbé Saunière or Marie Denarnaud. Other items include pure gold Visigothic and Roman coins.
THE BÉRENGER SAUNIÈRE MUSEUM
Since 1989 the association "Terre de Rhedae" (of which anyone can become a member for a small contribution), has worked for the development and protection of the communal inheritance, and organizes the reception of visitors to the site. The association has opened a small museum in the old presbytery next to the church. Above the entrance there is an inscription "The Pastor's house is the house of all".
The museum contains a large collection of documents and personal possessions which once belonged to the abbé Saunière and Marie Denarnaud, and clearly depicts their lifestyle at the turn of the century.
Those responsible for the creation of the museum. descendants of the villagers who were contemporaries of the abbé, present a contradictory version of the history of Rennes. Theirs is the local version, in an attempt to reinstate the oral tradition which relates the events as remembered by their parents and grandparents. They refute the discovery of the parchments in the Visigothic pillar, and instead place if in the tomb of the local "seigneurs" which was discovered in the church by the abbé Saunière. However, the museum also presents something of the ancient history of Rennes - many paleontological and neolithic items make up the exhibition, along with coins from the early years of our era, and dinosaur eggs discovered on a nearby site. Only the future will reveal whether or not there exists a crypt to be explored, as is frequently the case in Ritman churches and chapels.
VISITS - every day between 10-12 and 2-6. There is a small charge for admission -group reductions and student tickets available. Parking - postcards - books - engravings.
THE ABBIE SAUNIERES DOMAIN. For a guided visit to what was the abbé Sauniere's domain - Villa Bethania - Tower Magdala - See p.40. Tel 0468 74 3116.
THE GARDEN OF CALVARY
The abbé created the garden on the village square. In the centre, in a circle, he erected a Calvary, with a large orb at the top of the cross, from which shot out golden rays (long since disappeared). It was here that he should have inscribed "Mission 1891", and not on the Visigothic pillar. The translation of the Latin phrase on the base reads "May Christ protect his people from all harm". In the corner of the garden which forms the top of a triangle he set up a strange grotto using the decorative stones he collected in the valley of the Bals and brought back in a hod which he wore on his back. He placed a statue of Mary Magdalen within the grotto, but this has been stolen.
Note - It is interesting to note that he also built his office up against the wall of the graveyard, above a reservoir, in which he is said to have hidden the results of his various excavations in bags hung from beneath the floorboards.
The abbé Saunière, enthralled by the crowds of pilgrims at Lourdes since 1858, apparently developed the grandiose idea of making Rennes-le-Chateau a centre of pilgrimage and spiritual discovery.
THE VISIGOTHIC PILLAR
Placed upside down in the little garden to the left of the church it suggests that the decoding of the enigma hidden within the church should also be worked out upside down, Note - "Mission 1891", when read upside down becomes 1681, the date inscribed on the tomb of the marquise de Blanchefort.
THE CHURCH OF ST. MAGDALEN
The entire secret of the abbé Saunière is within these walls. The decoration of the church, including the porch, perfectly illustrates Boudet's famous book. The restoration work took nine yeans, from 1887-1896.
THE TYMPANUM OF THE CHURCH
The equilateral triangle, the roses and the cross in the centre arc symbols whose meaning is all too clear.
Bottom left - the arms of Monseigneur Felix Billard, Bishop of Carcassonne, who defended the abbé Saunière, no doubt for reasons of self-interest.
Bottom right - the coat of arms of the reigning pope, LCon XII, liberal and monarchist.
Below - "This place is terrible!", and on the arch of the porch, "It is the house of God and the Gate of Heaven".
On the gargoyle in the left corner -
the date 1891, when the abbé discovered the "tombeau des seigneurs".
This romanesquc church, built in the 8th and 9th centuries, was the old chapel which belonged to the château. The parishioners had their own church, of St. Pierre at the top of the village. Once he had explored and overturned the church, from top to bottom, constructed an octal interior double-partition wall to strengthen it" as he said. On the bell tower the date 1740.
Note - In 1958 Mr Cholet a civil engineer from Paris, carried out research based on clues found in some old books discovered at Monfort-Lamaury, fief of Simon de Niontfoit which g ivc é det ulcd description of the church at Rennes. His research uncovered several hiding places all of them empty! Mr. Cholet left in haste for Paris after a near miss when a beam placed with intent above the church door fell and nearly killed him. (12)
THE DEVIL AND THE HOLY WATER FOUNT
As we enter the church we are greeted by a hideous devil, grimacing under the weight of the -. water stoop and the four angels which surmount it:
On the base, two basilisks frame a red inset which contains the letters B.S.
B.S. - the initials of Bérenger Saunière.
B.S. - Boudet and Sauniere (the names of the two priests connected with this affair).
B.S. - Blanque and Sals, the two nearby rivers which converge at a spot known as "le benitier" (the holy water stoup).
B.S. - basilisk and salamander, for the alchemists.
in 1928 a small statue of solid gold, half melted-down was found in the river Blanque.
There are several sites around Rennes where the word "devil" is present, e.g. -
- 'la main du diablé (the devil's hand), imprinted on a natural stone known as the 'pierre du pain' (the bread stone).
- 'le sein du diablé (the devil's breast), where there was once a signaling tower on the site of the nipple.
- 'le fauteil du diablé (the devil's armchair), near the source du Cerele at Rennes-lesBains.
- legend recounts that the devil himself placed the 'roulers', (the rollers) upright large rocking stones at the Pla de la Coste.
- The abbé Saunière apparently persuaded Marie Denarnaud to keep silent about the strange secret they shared by threatening her with the fires of hell. She was extremely superstitious, and would hang sprigs of broom from the window to ward off bad luck.
The republicans!". thundered Bérenger Sauniere from his pulpit during the general elections of October 1885, "this is the devil to be vanquished. This is who should kneel beneath the weight of religion and its baptised adherents. The sign of the cross is victorious and is on our side (implying the side of the monarchists) (13) But does this really explain the position of the devil in the church?
THE FOUR ANGELS OF THE WATER STOUP
Looking in four different directions, these four angels each enact a part of the Catholic sign of the genuflection. The kneeling angel points with her index finger to the inscription "By this sign ye shall conquer him" (Parce sign to le vaincras). The word "him" (le), apparently added to the age-old phrase to obtain a sentence which contains 22 letters.
- 22 is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, language of the Cabbala.
- 22 is the number of the final Major Arcana in the Egyptian tarot.
- 22 is the number of steps leading up to the terrace on top of the Tour Magdala.
- 22 is also the number of erenellations on the Tour Magdala.
- 22 is the number of teeth in the skull which grimaces above the entrance to the graveyard.
Note - Also, the two letters, "i" and "e" occupy the 13th and 14th positions in the phrase, suggesting the date 1314, when Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Order of the Temple was burnt at the stake. Does someone want to draw our attention to the Templar château at B6zu, and therefore to the Templar treasure, yet another booty which has been lost for centuries?
For the esotericists, the four angels may be seen as representations of the four zealous brothers (freres zelés) of the Rose+Cross, or the winged brothers (ftc res ailés). See "Rennes-le-château", by Gerard de Se de.
Also, in 1986, Alain Féral (then at the bookshop in Rennes-le-château), made a curious discovery (amongst many others) The hollow head of the angel on the right was stuffed with cuttings from German newspapers dating from 1898, the era when the abbé Saunière carried out the restoration of the church. (14)
THE "TOUR MAGDALA"
A neogothic tower on two levels, it stands at the end of the semi-circular belvedere erected by the abbé Saunière on the edge of the plateau, bugging the cliff and the remains of the ramparts of the ancient citadel.
Square, crenellated, surmounted by a watchtower which has 12 crenels (just as there are 12 signs of the zodiac), and oriented like a sundial, it was originally christened "Tour de l'Horloge", (the Clock tower).
It is said that there is an underground passage which runs along a natural rift in the rock, leading from the tower to the castle at Coustaussa (on the road to Narbonne), running via the château de Blanchefort, which stood guard over the valley of Rennes-les-Bains until it was destroyed by Simon de Montfort.
Not far from this tower, between the fallen rocks and the cliff, diggers discovered a prehistoric shelter under the rocks, filled with the bones of women and children.
The "Tour Magdala" was a well-stocked and richly furnished library installed by the abbé Saunière.
Note- The foundation stone was laid on the celebration-day of St. Antoine de Padoue.
THE CHATEAU DES SEIGNEURS DE RENNES" (XVI CENTURY)
· This is the castle which gave the village of Rennes-le-Château its name.
· Originally a Visigothic fortress, there still exists a vast, remarkably well-preserved room in the north of the castle,and which dates from this era.
· It was destroyed in 1210 by Simon de Montfort at the time of the crusades against the Cathars.
· It was rebuilt around 1250 by Pierre de Voisins, a northern baron to whom it fell, and who left descendants in the Rhazes.
· It was destroyed by the Catalan "Routiers" in 1362.
· Once again it was rebuilt by the Hautpoul family in the XVIth century (an ancient family who were guardians of "a very great secret" passed down from one generation to the next).
The last lady of the château was Marie de Negre Dables Dame d'Hautpoul de Blanchefort, who died on January 17th 1781. Her bed, with her coat of arms emblazoned on it, still exists in one of the rooms in the château (not open to the public).
The castle we see today consists of four main buildings on a central courtyard, and four corner-towers. a circular one 17m high, and three square ones. The twelve stones over the threshold show the twelve aposties. It contains secret dungeons and blocked-up underground passages which once led off in several directions to join natural rifts in the rock. It was sold by auction by Elisabeth de Rennes, daughter of the last marquise, and purchased in 1816 by Julie Avignon, daughter of Elisabeth's farmer who later sold it to the Dalbies brothers.
Around 1946, it was bought by Mr. Marius Fatin, honorary commissaire in the merchant navy, who moved in with his wife, their two daughters, and their son Henri, who currently resides there, and who is a fine sculptor of wood.
A legend relates that in the caves which are linked to the château de Rennes, via underground passages, lives a race of troglodytes, unaware of the passing of time and the light of day.
Rennes Le Chateau, is located in Languedoc southern France an unspoiled area of southern Franch countryside. There are many mysteries surrounding Rennes Le Chateau that link with the Holy Grail, the Ark of Noah, the Ark of the Covenant and the treasures of the Temple of Solomon, the bloodline of Christ and Mary Magdalene. These mysteries have foxed researchers for hundreds of years.
Hidden within those Latin parchments were two messages in French:
This treasure belongs to Dagobert II King and to Sion and he is there dead.
Shepardess no temptation that Poussin Teniers hold the key peace 681 by the cross and the horse of God I complete this Daemon guardian at midday blue apples.
Pommes Bleues - Blue Apple
The phrase 'Blue Apples' - 'Pommes Bleues' allegedly comes from one of the coded parchments allegedly discovered in 1886 or 1887 by Sauniere inside the church at Rennes-le-Chateau. These 'blue apples' are supposedly related to a curious optical phenomenon that is said to occur at midday on January 17 when the sun shines through a stained-glass window (Jesus Raising Lazarus from the Dead) in the church. On this day, orbs of bluish light appear on the church furnishings before stopping (or fading) on the altar with its bas-relief of Mary Magdalene kneeling in prayer with a skull at her knees.
It is known that Berenger Sauniere took his parchments to the Abbe Bieil, of the seminary of St. Sulpice, which was where the Abbe's nephew Emile Hoffet launched the Catholic Modernist rebellion which would eventually land Modernist works on the Vatican's "banned" list. Saint Sulpice's feast day, January 17th, is the date of Sauniere's sudden stroke. He was the bishop of Bourges, on the Paris Meridian, and in his seminary is an obelisk with a copper line marking the exact point of the alignment.
Nothing is as it seems with the Rennes Le Chateau mysteries.
The Magdalene's heirs married into the Visigoth families of the time and gave birth to the sacred Merovingian ruling family. The Visigoths of the area might have themselves been descended from the House of Benjamin, which had fled to the Arcadia region of Greece, and thence north into France, a thousand years earlier.
The Merovingians were not wiped out by the Carolingian usurpers, and their lineage survives in some of the other royal families of Europe; apparently the goal of the secret society entitled the Prieure du Sion is a Merovingian restoration in France.
According to authors Leigh, Lincoln, and Baigent, it seems to encompass the dissolution of the Templars, the downfall of the Cathars, the bizarre Rosicrucian manifesto, and other political intrigues of French history. For it seems that Sion has a grievance against the Church, who betrayed the Merovingian dynasty and crowned its destroyers. If Sauniere was an agent of Sion, it might explain why he was denied absolution.
There are a few grisly murders that have taken place in the area to add to the air of mystery. One was that of the old priest Jean-Antoine-Maurice Gelis. Toward the end of his life he became a paranoid hermit and recluse; the only person he would admit to his presbytery was his niece, to bring him food.
Despite his absurd precautions, someone surprised him on All Saints' Eve in 1897, bashed him with some fire tongs, delivered four blows from an ax, and then reverently laid the corpse on the ground with the hands crossed over the chest. Whoever it was ransacked the room but took no money.
A team of researchers found three corpses in Sauniere's garden in 1956, all of them shot. Were they World War II victims? Or something else? Noel Corbu, who took care of Marie Denarnaud after her paralyzing stroke, and who may have learned of something from her incoherent dying whispers, was killed in a horrendous car crash in 1953 that some suspect was not an accident.
Sauniere's "heart attack" in 1917 came on the suspicious date of January 17th (St. Anthony's Day) and there are hints that the coffin had been ordered in advance. A courier who carried the secret dossiers found by Sauniere, Fakhur el Islam, was found dead on train tracks just outside of Melun, East Germany, in 1967.
Perhaps the most enigmatic elements mentioned in the text as decoded by Lionel Fanthorpe is the phrase "Blue Apples at Noon." The code in the parchments is only decipherable through the use of the "knight's tour" - a logic puzzle wherein one "jumps" a knight to every square on a chess board, once and only once. It is a puzzle which has only one solution - as does the code, clearly. But the use of chessboard imagery at Rennes-le-Chateau is striking.
Clearly, to some degree, the puzzle lies in the layout of the redesign of Sauniere's church, and his other building projects. The village parish church had been dedicated to the Magdalene in 1059; during the restoration, he found the mysterious parchment (supposedly) in a hollow Visigothic pillar underneath the altar stone. A statue of the demon Asmodeus guards near the door. The plaques depicting the Stations of the Cross contain bizarre inconsistencies. One shows a child swathed in Scottish plaid.
Another has Pontius Pilate wearing a veil. St. Joseph and Mary are each depicted holding a Christ child, as if to allude to the old legend that Christ had a twin. Other statues are of rather esoteric saints in unusual postures: St. Roch displays his wounded thigh (like the Grail King Anfortas), St. Anthony the Hermit holds a closed book, St. Germaine releases a bevy of roses from her apron, and the Magdalene is shown holding a vase. Sauniere's library and study, the Tour Magdala, is placed precariously over a precipitous chasm at a place where one would be foolish to build such a permanent structure.
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