06 16

Part 1: The Mystery of Rennes-le-Château.

The beauty of a mystery
is the secret concealed in it
not the truth it hides

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt (1998) 

It is essential that I first tell you the Story which forms the basis of the Mystery. Many sources contradict each other but what follows is the generally accepted version.

Bérenger Saunière’s Life Story.

In 1885 Bérenger Saunière was appointed parish priest of Rennes-le-Château. As the church was in bad repair, he started on the urgently needed restorations after a few years. During these operations he found some parchments in one of the pillars of the altar. In these documents he found genealogies, as well as Bible texts in Latin. The latter are said to have been written in 1780 by Antoine Bigou, one of Saunière’s predecessors and at the time the personal chaplain to the Blanchefort family, who lived in the neighbouring castle. Saunière showed the documents to the bishop in Carcassonne who sent him on to Paris. After a few days he returned, with reproductions of three paintings which he had bought at the Louvre.

After his return to Rennes-le-Château, his life changed completely. He had many contacts with people abroad and was regularly visited by many celebrities. It turned out that he possessed considerable sums of money. He continued the restoration of the church. He added all kinds of bizarre decorations, such as the statue of the demon Asmodeus; also every Station of the Cross reveals an unusual phenomenon. The churchyard also underwent a facelift. Saunière is said to have destroyed the inscriptions on the tomb of Marie de Negri, to which action there were many objections. Marie de Negri was the last remaining descendant of the Blanchefort family living in Rennes-le-Château. She died in 1781. The designer of her tombstone was the curé Antoine Bigou, the author of the documents.

From 1896 Saunière started to spend more and more money. He spent the equivalent of millions of Dollars. He built the "Villa Béthania", a library called the "Tour Magdala", had the road to the village asphalted and had a mains supply laid on. The new bishop of Carcassonne wanted to know how Saunière had come by such large sums of money; however Saunière refused to mention names, so he was suspended in 1909. He remained in the village but was no longer allowed to celebrate mass. In 1917 Saunière died. All his possessions proved to be in the name of his housekeeper, Marie Denarnaud. She went to live in the Villa which she sold to Noël Corbu, the hotelier. In 1946 she had promised to confide the Secret to him before her death but she died suddenly in 1953 without being able to reveal the truth. Corbu became interested in the strange history of the curé and in 1956 he called in the local newspaper. That is how the Story was first made public.  It was through Henri Lincoln especially that the Mystery of Rennes-le-Château eventually became known worldwide. However, is there an answer? Had Saunière really found a treasure? Or is this theory totally unfounded?

Bérenger Saunière

Marie Denarnaud


Water tower


Tombstone MdeN

Tombstone Marie de Negri