Bérenger Saunière and Bastille Day, 1895

On 21 July 1895 the local Parish Council of Rennes-le-Château imposed sanctions against Abbé Bérenger Saunière for his refusal in assisting to putting out a fire in the village on 14 July – Bastille Day – in France called Fête Nationale ("National Celebration").


Extract from the Minute Book of the Parish Council of Rennes-le-Château

In the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five, the twentieth day of July, the Parish Council of Rennes-le-Château assembled at its habitual place of meeting at the request of several of its members who had given formal notice of assembly.

2nd Division
Read and Approved
Carcassonne, 29 August 1895
For the Préfet of the Aude
The Secretary General



Lauzède, Pierre (Mayor)
Gavignaud, Jean (Deputy Mayor)
Olive, Joseph
Dalbiès, Auguste
Vidal, Blaise
Captié, Pierre
Malet, Michel
Faure, Joseph
Maury, Joseph
Doutre, Célestin


The Chairman, having declared the meeting open, handed the floor to Councillor Olive, who requested the Mayor to inform the assembly of the content of the decision concerning the closure of the village square made by the assembly on the 15 February 1891, since he believed that the Parish Priest, to whom the former Parish Council had granted the favour of having the square laid at his disposal for the purposes of the improvement thereof, was acting in conformity neither with the spirit nor with the letter of this decision.

The Mayor was eager to concur with this request, and Councillor Olive in person undertook the reading of the relevant decision.

The Parish Council,

HAVING HEARD the statement of the reasons for summoning the assembly set forth by Councillor Olive,

CONSIDERING the decision referred to above which had just been read out;

CONSIDERING that, through this decision, the Parish Council, while authorising thereby the closure and improvement of the village square at the expense of the Parish Priest, did not wish to alienate the land in a way that provided any rights of ownership either to the church council or to the Parish Priest himself or to his descendants, and thereby convert the village square into a private garden,

CONSIDERING that the Curé has not conformed to the conclusions of the decision relating to the locks with which all the gates should have been provided,

CONSIDERING that the arrangements relating to the opening and closing of the exit gates from the village square on Sundays and holidays, as laid down by the said decision, interfere with the freedom of circulation of the inhabitants in the village square, which was something that the former Parish Council had no intention of doing when they made the decision; that furthermore the exits from the said square have remained without doors for three years, and that during this time there have been no complaints of any damage either to the parterre or to the buildings, that in consequence it is unnecessary for the gates to be locked.

CONSIDERING that no covered building should have been built in that place, and that under the pretext of constructing a water-tank and a conservatory (and that without permission being requested), he has built on top of the water-tank an apartment serving as an Office and library, exclusively for his own use and to which only he holds the key.

CONSIDERING that on 14 July last, when a fire broke out in a house and threatened to spread to an entire quarter composed almost exclusively of barns full of forage, he refused to contribute water for the purposes of extinguishing it, something that required the intervention of the Mayor and a threat by Councillor Olive to break down the doors of this apartment, to enable him to enter the interior and obtain access to the pump, whereas other property-owners contributed water voluntarily from their water-tank.

CONSIDERING his conduct in this episode has aroused indignation in everyone, especially considering that the water from the fountain is not sufficient,

CONSIDERING that the square is Parish property, that the Parish pay taxes in respect of it as a pleasure-garden and in respect also of the aforementioned apartment built on top of the water-tank, which is taxed as a chalet. In order to avoid further conflicts arising in the future, in order that the Parish Priest may no longer complain to the police regarding trespass on the parterre and water-tank, and in order that the closing of the village square may no longer restrict the freedom of all the inhabitants,

After discussing the matter,

It was decided:

That in future all the exit gates from the village square as well as the door of the apartment where the pump of the water-tank is located will be closed on the latch only, in such a manner that anyone can gain access there upon any day and at any time, either to go and walk or to go and draw any water of which they might have need. That the Parish Priest be obliged to remove the library from the apartment constructed over the water-tank, which apartment is intended to be used for the storage of the vases from the parterre. In consequence, it annuls and rescinds the decision of 15 February 1891, and submits this present document to the Préfet for his approval, for this decision only to be rendered legally enforceable.

Done and decided at Rennes-le-Château on the day, month and year stated above by the members present:

Dalbiès, who have signed the minute-book.


Certified accurate
Rennes-le-Château 21 July 1895
[signature:] Pierre Lauzède


Taken from Abbé Bruno De Monts, Bérenger Saunière, Curé à Rennes-Le-Château 1885-1909 (Èditions Bélisane; 1989)