Rennes-les-Bains Delmas Calvary
31 May 2014
Revised 25 November 2014
The Rennes-les-Bains Delmas Calvary bears the inscription “Pierre Delmas 1856”
Made of forged-iron attached to a chamfered pedestal it was reputedly named after the Abbé Delmas, priest of Rennes-les-Bains for 60 years until 1742. A passionate antiquarian, he left behind a memoir written in 1709 entitled Antiquités des Bains de Montferran communément appelés les Bains de Rennes (“Antiquities of the Baths of Montferran commonly known as the Baths of Rennes”) – that was an inventory of Roman artefacts found in the area.
The Delmas calvary was located at the entrance to the village, in a corner, below the cliffs of Les Escatades. In April 1987 a car park was built at the site where it was necessary to cut into the cliffs and the Calvary had to be moved.
The works proceeded very quickly and at night so that nobody witnessed what happened.
In 2003, French researcher Jean-Claude De Brou asked the former mayor of Rennes-les-Bains, Jacques Hortala, about the works carried out in 1987 and asked him if any discoveries were made (legends persisted that a treasure was hidden in the rock behind the Delmas Calvary).
Jacques Hortala replied that he was unaware of any treasure discovery.
Apocryphal stories and rumours soon began taking shape. Jacques Rivière in his 2006 book Histoire de Rennes-les-Bains referred to witnesses who were present at the time the Delmas Calvary was removed and the cavity in the rock explored. A treasure had been found – it was “transported to Bordeaux” – another story claimed the treasure was “moved to England and that it was sold in London”.
The Delmas Calvary was restored by the Le Cercle du 17 Janvier with the inauguration taking place on 17 January 2007
Pierre Jarnac, “Rumeurs à propos du Calvaire Delmas”, Bulletin Pégase, Number 17, pp.35-36 (Octobre – Décembre, 2006)