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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Musings: Indulging My Pseudohistorical Obsessions

Search for rennes le chateau
Long before the hype of The Da Vinci Code prompted millions of readers to explore questions of theology and what not, I read an intriguing book by Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh entitled Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  Anyone who has read the former is cursorily familiar with the precepts contained in the latter--namely, that a priest by the name of Abbé François Bérenger Saunière (1852-1917) discovered something that led to an ascension in his station not commensurate with what one would expect him to obtain considering his assignment in a rural and largely poor village in southern France by the name of Rennes-le-Château.

Abbé François Bérenger Saunière (1852-1917)

What the discovery was, no one knows or if someone does, he or she is not speaking about it or he/she is speaking about it but it's currently lost in the dustbin of clutter that is Rennes-le-Château "research."  A good synopsis of the theories can be found here, but the gist of it is is that the Abbé found a document(s) that provided him some leverage against the Catholic Church (or somebody with some money and something to lose) which created a fantastic income stream with which the priest built many peculiar additions to the delapidated church of which he found himself in charge.

Some ideas of what was found are as follows:
  • A parchment that confirms the existence of the Merovingian bloodline that, in turn, validates someone who has a legitimate claim to the French throne--a relevant topic during Saunière's day
  • A parchement that confirms that Jesus did not die on the cross and that he/he plus Mary Magdalene/he plus Mary Magdalene and thier child wound up in France to continue the bloodline
  • A portion, large or small, of old Visigothic treasure (or treasure of some other origin)--possibly a legitimate claim as the area has been the sight of numerous settlements for thousands of years
  • The tomb of Jesus/Mary Magdalene/somebody else with the body of Jesus/Mary Magdalene/somebody else in it
  • A host of other oddball ideas such as: _______insert any wild idea involving UFOs, sasquatch, Atlantis, or the plot of any movie that stars Nicholas Cage, etc.
Despite the fact that I think the story is largely the result of opportunistic promoters who have picked up on snippets of curiosities embedded within the Rennes-le-Château story and the deliberate hoax masterminded by Pierre Plantard in the late 1950s, I am continually drawn to this story because it still has that "what if" element due to the fact that there are just enough elements that are unresolved to pique my curiosity.

Below are some relevant images:

The baptismal font which is a major player in the mystery--supposedly a clue which helps lead one to the treasure.

Three views of the Tour Magdala.  This tower was built by Saunière and some say that it plays a role in the map embedded within the church architecture and decor.  The interior window lines up with a view of Grotte du Fournet - dite de la Magdeleine--which translates as "the burial site of the Mary Magdalene.  Legend states that Mary Magdalene ended up in France and lived out her days in seclusion in a cave--near Marseilles which is over 3 hours away by car but I guess she could have ended up here.

A closer view of the grotto

The "Visogothic" pillar in which it is said something was found--generally believed to be coded scrolls

The baluster in which a glass vial with something in it was found during the remodeling of the church

Aerial view of Rennes-le-Château

Inside the church

There are a ton of barely legitimate resources for you to explore if you are interested in learning more.  Simply put on your tinfoil hat and type in Rennes le Chateau into the search engine of your choice.  Bon chance!

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