Rennes Le Chateau, is located in Languedoc, France an unspoiled area of southern France. 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. These mysteries have baffled researchers for hundreds of years.

Landscape and Geometry

The area surrounding Rennes Le Chateau leaves is a virtual playground for the 'sacred geometry archtetects'. There are 40 square miles of landscape geometry to rowk with. According to one researcher, it may be laid out in the shape of a "Ship of the Dead" with a helmeted warrior borne to sea. Yet another thinks that the Paris Meridian may have been drawn so that it quite deliberately passes, ley-fashion, straight through Rennes Le Chateau, Arques, and Conques. Others see links between the site and Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland or Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, England.




History of the Village

This predominantly rural area has a very rich history, as evidenced by its castles, cathedrals, vineyards and museums. Mountains frame both ends of the region - the Cevennes to the northeast and the Pyrenees to the south. Jagged ridges, deep river canyons and rocky limestone plateaus, with vast caves beneath, make it one of the most scenic spots on Earth.

Over the centuries religious and political conflicts have caused much havoc in the area. The ruined castles which cling precariously to hilltops played a leading role in the struggles between the Catholic church and the Cathars at the beginning of the 13th century. Others guarded the volatile border with Spain. Whole communities were wiped out during the campaigns of the Catholic authorities to rid the area of the Cathar heretics during the Albigensian Crusades and later, when Protestants fought for religious freedom against the French monarchy.




Modern Fame

The modern reputation of Rennes-le-Ch‰teau rises from rumors concerning the local priest in the late nineteenth century, Bˇrenger Sauni¸re, who was alleged to have mysteriously acquired and spent large sums of money. He was even said to have visited several heads of state, though there is no evidence for this whatsoever.

These rumors were given wide local circulation in the 1950s by Noel Corbu, a local man who had opened a restaurant in Sauni¸re's former estate. He probably hoped to increase his business. They moved from local to national importance when they were incorporated by Pierre Plantard into his mythology of the Priory of Sion, which influenced the authors of the popular 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

From this point on Rennes-le-Ch‰teau became the center of conspiracy theories claiming that Sauni¸re uncovered hidden treasure and/or secrets about the history of the Church that threatened the foundations of Catholicism. Since the mid-1950s, the area has become the focus of increasingly sensational claims involving the Knights Templar, the Priory of Sion, the Rex Deus, the Holy Grail, the treasures of the Temple of Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant, ley lines, geometric alignments, and others.

Elements of these ideas were later incorporated into Umberto Eco's 1989 novel Foucault's Pendulum, Dan Brown's bestselling 2003 novel 'The Da Vinci Code', and computer game Gabriel Knight III.

The village now attracts visitors who look for hidden treasures and evidence of conspiracy, much to the displeasure of the locals.

Almost all historians reject these conspiracies as nothing more than fantasy. I would agree. According to writers such as Paul Smith, Monsignor George Boyer in 1967 (Vicar General of the parish of Carcassonne), Rene Descadeillas, Jacques Riviere, Jean-Luc Chaumeil, Jean-Jacques Bedu, Vincianne Denis, Bill Putnam, John Edwin Wood, and Marie Francine Etchegoin - the stories of Sauni¸re's "mysteries" were based on nothing more than a minor scandal involving the sale of masses, which eventually led to the disgrace of both Sauni¸re and his bishop. His 'wealth' was short-lived and he died relatively poor. Other aspects of the Rennes-le-Ch‰teau mythology derive from forgeries created on behalf of Plantard.

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 Knights Templar or the Cathars in the area? Might it have been buried Visigothic gold? Was Sauniere 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.

The mystery is rendered greater by a series of parchments found by the cleric in 1891, which contained an easily discovered cipher. They were apparently written by his predecessor, Abbe Antoine Bigou, confessor to Marie d'Hautpoul, in 1781. The same cipher 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.

Hidden within those Latin parchments were two messages in French:

Pommes Bleues - Blue Apples
The name 'Blue Apples' or 'Pommes Bleues' in French, relates to an optical phenomenon that is said to occur at midday (12:00) 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 (then 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.

References:

Jean-Jacques Bedu, Rennes-Le-Ch‰teau: Autopsie d'un mythe 2003

Bill Putnam, John Edwin Wood The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau, A Mystery Solved 2003




Sailing and Grailing Across the Atlantic

The most bizarre chapter in the story of Rennes-le-Chateau may have to do with the Money Pit mystery on Oak Island just off Nova Scotia. According to Michael Bradley, some of the keepers of the Grail may have come to the New World long before Columbus. He believes that some of the Templars may have fled to Canada after the dissolution of their order, carrying the Grail. The Money Pit has more often been associated with pirates' buried treasure, but as many know, the "Jolly Roger" flag's skull-and-crossbones icon has long been associated with Masonic and Templar legend.

The so-called Venetian "Zeno Map" of the 15th century shows a knight with a sword standing where Nova Scotia is. (The Sinclairs of Scotland are "hereditary lords of Rosslyn Chapel" and are said to be descended from the Scots Guards, a clique loyal to the Stuart dynasty, which in turn are thought to have contained converted members of the Templar Order who fought with Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, and to have provided the basis of Freemasonry.)

In the Money Pit on Oak Island, a mysterious stone inscription was found: "Forty feet below - two million punds are buried." Every company that has tried to locate this treasure has failed.


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