Le mystère de Rennes-le-Château-RELICS

The mystery of Rennes-le-Château

Bérenger Saunière was born on April 11, 1852 in Montazel, a village near Rennes-Le-Château. Child of a family of seven, Bérenger Saunière, whose real first name, François Bérenger, will be oriented towards the priesthood just like his brother Alfred.
His father is the sharecropper of a noble of the region: the Marquis de Cazemajou. He did his seminary in Narbonne and was ordained a priest in June 1879. He became vicar in Alet and was then appointed to the parish of Clat, an isolated and harsh village on the lands of the Negroes of Ables.
He stayed there for three years and was appointed by his superiors as a professor at Narbonne. There it seems that his attitude, sometimes insolent and independent, seems to be unfavorable to him and decides the bishopric to appoint him in a town of little importance and little future for him: Rennes-Le-Château.
He was thirty three years old when on June 1, 1885 he took possession of the parish.


rennes le chateau

At that time the village had barely more than 200 inhabitants. Particularly isolated, it can only be reached by a mule track which is difficult to walk, especially under the sun of this month of June. Upon his arrival, Bérenger Saunière discovered his church, the Sainte-Marie Madeleine church, in a catastrophic state of disrepair. The roof is punctured and the water falls on the heads of the faithful during services. The presbytery in which he was to settle is in an even more deplorable state. Impossible to live or sleep there. Only the hens find the place pleasant. Faced with this inventory, Bérenger Saunière asks for asylum to a resident of the village, Antoinette Marre.
It was a time of political commitments and the whole village was close to radical socialism. This is also an explanation of the state of places of worship. Religion no longer has the power it had in previous centuries. The People's Republic takes revenge on past centuries. Bérenger Saunière does not support this state of affairs. He cannot bear to see the house of the Lord abandoned. During this year 1885 elections must take place. The women of the village go to mass on Sundays, both to listen to the words of Christ, and to listen and look at this priest whom everyone described as a handsome man. He does not hesitate to give voting instructions against the ideas in place. This sermon, which has remained in the archives, presents us with a legitimist, even fundamentalist priest. He demonizes the Republic and castigates Socialism. He does not hesitate to ask his parishioners to influence their husbands to vote for the monarchist candidates.
This attitude and this position strongly displease the municipal council and the mayor of Rennes-Le-Château. The latter, taking his finest pen, does not hesitate to write to the minister of worship who is in charge of the maintenance of places of worship as well as ensuring the treatment of priests and churchmen. The separation of Church and State had not yet taken place.
This letter was taken into account and Bérenger Saunière found himself suspended from all income for six months. His situation as a priest was already not flourishing, there he leaned towards misery.
Finally, as time passed, it was in 1886 that he undertook the most urgent work in the church. These expenses surprised many, since, without the money, he financed these first works. It seems that he received an important gift from the Countess of Chambord, wife of the Count of Chambord, the only legitimate claimant to the throne of France. This gift is disputed by several authors and some think that this gift would have been a legacy of the abbot Pons, priest of the village under the Second Empire to the parish of Rennes-Le-Château.
These first works carried out allow the celebrant and the faithful to listen to the mass sheltered from bad weather.


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The altar of the church was of old invoice. Made of an altar stone partially embedded in the wall of the church, it was supported at the front by two Carolingian pillars. Decorated with lakes and an engraved cross, the altar corresponded neither to the wish of the young priest who wanted to have a beautiful church, nor to the fashion for religious buildings of the time. A happy donor, Madame Cavailhé de Cousan, having made a donation, allowed Bérenger Saunière to finance the purchase of a new altar. Calling on workers from the village, he decides to dismantle the old altar to install the new one.

On July 27, 1887, the workers moved the altar stone and updated the top of the two old pillars. From this episode the facts get more complicated. It is said that in one of these pillars, which had a cupule, wooden scrolls sealed with wax were discovered. The workers gave these scrolls to the priest who opened them and took out scrolls.

Another hypothesis says that it was during the work in the church that a vial containing parchments was discovered in a wooden baluster. On reflection, it is highly probable that one of the two pillars and the baluster both contained hidden elements. In the pillar there must probably have beenrelics and the dedication of the church Sainte-marie madeleine and in the baluster it is surely certain that a vial was discovered and that it contained documents. Antoine Captier, the bell ringer at the time, did he not say to his family: "It is thanks to me that the priest became rich".

Shortly after this discovery, Bérenger Saunière decided to remove the paving from the heart of the church. Just in front of the site of the old altar, a large stone slab was placed on the ground. The priest asked the workers to move it. Two surprises awaited them, on the one hand, the part of the slab having its face in contact with the ground was decorated with a superb bas-relief representing a scene showing two knights on their mounts, the other, probably the most interesting at first glance, was a "oule" sunk into the ground and containing coins, probably gold. Seeing the astonished gaze of the workers, Bérenger Saunière told them: "These are worthless Lourdes medals. Besides, it is getting late, we will continue the work later.".

All of his discoveries seem certain. The baluster does exist and is the property of Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Captier. The slab called "Slab of the Knights" is currently visible in the village museum. The episode of the discovery of the "Oule" is established by the concordant testimonies of the workers, and the discovery of the documents in the baluster and the pillar are established by the testimony of the bell ringer Captier. It is after that that events get complicated. According to certain authors, including Gérard de Sède, the exegete of Rennes-Le-Château, Bérenger Saunière would have taken the discovered parchments to his bishop, Monsignor Billard. The latter, in view of their complexity, financed the trip of the parish priest of Rennes-Le-Château to Paris so that he could present them to specialists so that they could translate them during the summer of 1891.

In 1891, Bérenger Saunière began to create the gardens of the church as we know them today with particularly sophisticated plans. This year 1891 seems to have been of the greatest importance for Bérenger Saunière. On the one hand because he carried out the first works of the gardens of the church but also because on September 9, 1891 he discovered a tomb in the church. Being done must be of significant importance since he records it in his diary.

On the other hand, he makes a collage with elements from religious magazines in which we can read: "The year 1891 carried into eternity with the fruit of which we speak below."
In 1892, Bérenger Saunière and his servant, Marie Dénéarnaud, were talked about. Indeed, the Town Hall officially complains about the actions of the priest and his servant in the cemetery. They move graves, open them and jostle the bones which they place in an ossuary that the priest had built in the cemetery. And then Bérenger Saunière goes after the tomb of the Dame de Nègre d'Ables from which he erases the inscriptions of the epitaph by chiselling them. Fortunately a copy of this text had been found several years earlier by archaeologists.

From 1896, Bérenger Saunière embarked on the restoration of the church. He spends all he can, he has the whole church redone with amazing and sometimes not very Catholic decorations..


rennes le chateau


In December 1898, Bérenger Saunière began to buy the land around the church. These manufacturers' ambitions will materialize. Work on the Villa Béthanie and the Tour Magdala began in May 1891.
The villa is the culmination of his "work". He entertained and led the way there, he received important people such as M. Guillaume, who turned out to be a member of the Hasbourg family. The villagers remembered his accent and called him "the foreigner".
The Magdala Tower served as his library. Built on the edge of the ravine, it overlooks the plateau of Rennes-Le-Château. For years Bérenger Saunière leads a sumptuous life, surrounded by high-ranking people, both regionally, nationally and even internationally. Some remembered the prodigious voice of a singer. Was it Emma Calvé The servant of the abbot, Marie Dénarnaud, whom he had taken as "maid of the priest", was only 18 years old when she returned to his service. We were a long way from the canonical age of 40!!
Marie Denarnaud ordered her dresses by correspondence in the biggest stores of Paris. Her outfits have left many memories with the inhabitants.

In addition to the Magdala tower, Bérenger Saunière had a greenhouse built in the shape of a tower in which he placed the rarest species of plants and flowers in the region. He even bought a Monkey which did not fail to astonish and frighten the inhabitants of the village. He has two dogs which he names Faust and Pomponnet. Bérenger Saunière and Marie Denarnaud lead the high life And the church closes its eyes!!
And yet the tide will turn! In December 1901, Monseigneur Billard, bishop of Carcassone died and was replaced by Monseigneur Paul-Félix Beuran de Beauséjour.
Monseigneur de Beauséjour learned about life from his parish priest in Rennes-Le-Château. He investigates and finds that what he had been told was far below the truth. He decides to ask the parish priest of Rennes-Le-Château to account.
Bérenger Saunière's answers are laconic. They content themselves with saying: "I have received many donations which have enabled me to carry out the embellishment of the village church. My donors wish to remain anonymous."
Beauséjour insists and demands precise accounts. Saunière's attitude is strange. He quickly scribbles accounts which he gives to the prelate and which obviously seem to be faked. What is incredible is that Bérenger Saunière does not minimize his accounts, quite the contrary, because instead of giving the impression that he has no money, he highlights, through these rigged accounts, that he has a lot of it.

This response and this attitude exasperate Monseigneur de Beauséjour who decides to appoint Saunière to the parish of Coustouge. In this respect, moreover, a fact is also astonishing. Coustouge is not a small parish. Coustouge is a much larger city than Rennes-Le-Château and much richer. Nothing to do with the poverty of the village of Rennes-Le-Château. Where is the punishment of Monseigneur de Beauséjour Bérenger Saunière does not hesitate to answer his bishop: "If our religion commands us to consider above all our spiritual interests, it does not for all that command us to neglect our material interests, which are here low, and mine are in Rennes and nowhere else. I declare it to you, Monseigneur, with all the firmness of a respectful son: No, I will never go away! "What assurance!!
Although on his arrival in Rennes-Le-Château Bérenger Saunière was in radical opposition to the town hall of Rennes-Le-Château, opinions and things changing over time, the Mayor of Rennes-Le-Château does not hesitate to write to the bishopric to make by the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants of the village of the appointment of their priest in Coustouge. The mayor does not hesitate to sign a lease for the presbytery to Bérenger Saunière for 99 years, thus preventing any accommodation for a few priests whatsoever.
On February 1, 1909, Bérenger Saunière resigned in writing. On the 9th, Father Marty was appointed parish priest of Rennes-Le-Château. He had to stay in Carderonne, as he could not use the presbytery.

On July 6, 1910, Bérenger Saunière was summoned to appear before the court of the officiality for an accusation of mass trafficking. Finally he will be condemned to a "divine suspense". He will no longer have the right to practice the sacraments of the church.
Beauséjour will have partially achieved his ends. He will have succeeded in showing authority, but he will not have succeeded in getting Saunière to leave. He knows very well that the accusation of trafficking in masses did not justify Saunière's expenses, did he not confide to Monsignor de Cabrières: "We had to find a few things to have him condemned!".
After the trial, Bérenger Saunière resented having been condemned by these fathers. He withdrew great moments in the Magdala Tower where he spent his time classifying his fabulous collection of stamps.

In January 1917, while at the top of the Magdala Tower, he collapsed victim of an attack. Still conscious, Marie Dénarnaud, having found him, had him carried to his room.
Feeling his last moments approaching, he asked for a priest. Father Rivière goes to his bedside. Legend has it that he stayed with the dying man for several hours and refused to give him the last rites. The same legend says that Rivières from that day became sad and morose. What a terrible confession Saunière made?
Finally Bérenger Saunière died on January 22, 1917 at 5:00 am.
He was buried in the village cemetery on the 24th of this month.
His legend was born. Where did he get the money he needed for his lavish life and to build his estate??
No one could answer.

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