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The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau

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The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau

In 1886 Berenger Sauniere, a Catholic priest was sent to the parish of Rennes - le- Chateau, where nearly 1,000 years before Dagobert II had married Gisele.
During the course of restoring his church Sauniere is alleged to have discovered four ancient parchments hidden inside a hollow pillar which had been supporting the altar


In 1885 "the Catholic church assigned Sauniere, thirty-three years old, handsome, well-educated--if provincial--to the parish at Rennes-le-Chateau. Sauniere set about restoring the town's tiny church, which sat atop a sacred site dating back to the sixth-century Visigoths. Under the altar stone, inside a hollow Visigothic pillar, the young cure discovered a series of parchments. There were two genealogies dating from 1244 A.D. and 1644 A.D., as well as more recent documents created by a former parish priest during the 1780s." According to Henry Lincoln and historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh (The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail) "these more recent papers contained a series of ciphers and codes, some of them 'fantastically complex, defying even a computer' to unlock their secrets. "Sauniere took his discovery to the bishop in nearby Carcassonne, who dispatched the priest to Paris, where clerical scholars studied the parchments. One of the simpler ciphers, when translated, read: TO DAGOBERT II KING AND TO SION BELONGS THIS TREASURE AND HE IS THERE DEAD." (The person to whom "HE IS THERE DEAD" was not identified.) - 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time

"They were apparently written by his predecessor, Abb Antoine Bigou, confessor to Marie d'Hautpoul, in 1781. (The same cypher appears on her tombstone.) The parchments were, on the face of it, Latin transcriptions of passages from the Gospels; but they contained deeper mysteries. Sauniere also appears to have left certain other 'clues' in the highly unusual redesign of his church and of the other structures in the area."

"Within the second parchment was an even stranger message:


"A third cypher that appears, not in the documents, but at Shugborough Hall's Shepherd Monument, is the curious 'D.O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V.M' which has never been translated."

"There is a famous painting by Poussin entitled Les Bergers D'Arcadie (the Arcadian shepherds) which shows them around a tomb containing the mysterious inscription 'Et in Arcadia Ego...'" - Steve Mizrach,"The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Prieure du Sion"

This phrase translated into English has been interpreted to mean "Even in earthly paradise, I (death) exist."

"This tomb appears to be a virtual replica of one not too dissimilar to it right outside of Rennes-le-Chateau. Sauniere's church indeed contains a 'daemon guardian' which is a representation of the Biblical Asmodeus, who helped Solomon build his Temple; and some say the rays of the sun at midday passing through the glass create an optical effect they call 'blue apples'." "The theme of 'Arcadia' was prominent in Elizabethan literature, and it appears in the works of writers such as Edmund Spenser, Sir Phillip Sidney, and even Shakespeare, for whom the word was synonymous with the Golden Age."

"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. Over the porch lintel is a bizarre inscription, 'THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE'. 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. Sts. 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 received "vast sums of money to refurbish the local church and also to build many structures in the area, such as his Tower of the Magdalene (Tour Magdala). (Sauniere was originally so poor that he relied on the generosity of parishioners to survive in 1885.) He also built many structures in the area, such as his Tower of the Magdalene (Tour Magdala)." - Steve Mizrach,"The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Prieure du Sion"

Sauniere "spent a fortune refurbishing the town and developed extravagant tastes for rare china, antiques, and other pricey artifacts. Yet how Sauniere acquired this apparent windfall remained a mystery--he stubbornly refused to explain the secret of his success to the church authorities. - 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time

"Sauniere died in 1917, leaving the 'secret' of where he got his fabulous wealth to his housekeeper, Marie Dernaud, who promised to reveal it on her deathbed - but sadly she had a stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to speak before her death in 1953. Speculation was rife on the source of the parish priest's money. Was it the lost treasure of the Templars or the Cathars in the area? Might it have been buried Visigothic gold? Was he being paid by the Hapsburgs or some other government for his services? Did he know the lost goldmaking secrets of alchemy? Or was he blackmailing the Church with some terrible secret? The evidence that points to the last possibility is that Sauniere's confession before his death was so shocking that the priest who heard it denied him absolution and last rites." - Steve Mizrach,"The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Prieure du Sion"


(see quotes)
Soon after Sauniere came into a fortune which he spent on renovating an decorating the church, improvements to the village and building a new house.

The source of Sauniere's wealth is more prosaic. He was a holy con man. At the time it was common practice for priests to solicit payments for saying a mass. Sauniere made the process national, even international, by placing ads in newspapers, soliciting people to post him the money and promising to say a mass on receipt. Given what we know of the number of replies Sauniere received it is extremely unlikely he ever fulfilled his part of the bargain.
Historical Note - This process known as 'simony' - the selling of masses was condemned by the Vatican in ?
Sauniere invented the story of finding treasure when he needed an explanation for his sudden wealth.
Part of sauniere's wealth was spent on the construction of a sizeable house where he lived with his 'housekeeper', Marie Deanaud. On his death he left her the property where she lived until she sold it to a local entrepreneur in return for an annuity. He opened a restaurant and recycled the story of the 'Sauniere's treasure' to get some publicity for his enterprise. This must be one of the most successful PR campaigns ever, bearing in mind how many bestselling books, documentaries and films have been made publicising Rennes-le-chateau.





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