Bérenger Saunière and the Cercle Catholique de Narbonne

Paul Smith

14 April 2016
Revised 30 April 2016

The Rhedesium website produced a translation of an interview with Christian Doumergue (below) that correctly identified a direct link between Alfred Saunière and the monarchist Cercle Catholique de Narbonne. Alfred Saunière's role in this group was important and he was the editor-in-chief of the journal “La Croix du Sud”.

Christian Doumergue published the evidence directly linking Alfred Saunière with the Cercle Catholique de Narbonne several years ago that contained interesting material not mentioned in the interview below – like for example the Report dated 13 October 1899 by the Prefect of the Aude showing that Alfred was a Free Priest because of his opposition to the Republic. Another Report by the Sub-Prefect of the Aude dated 16 September 1902 mentioned Alfred as an Anti-Republican troublemaker.

Therefore, evidence exists that both Alfred and Bérenger Saunière shared the same anti-Republican sympathies that got them both into trouble with the local authority.

However, nothing links Bérenger Saunière with the Cercle Catholique de Narbonne.

The motto of the Cercle Catholique was “In Hoc Signo Vinces” – however, this was universally used by religious groups and communities.

Mme Marie Cavailhé, who donated the new main altar to Saunière's church on 27 July 1887, may have been linked with the Cercle, but that's not the same thing as the Cercle being “responsible” for the funding of the renovation of Saunière's church. The reason given in French books as to why Mme Cavailhé donated the main altar was to fulfil a vow she made while suffering a serious illness when living in Rennes-le-Château.

Christian Doumergue repeats the old chestnut that Bérenger Saunière received a donation from the Countess of Chambord – Saunière only claimed this for the first time during his ecclesiastical trial 1910-1911 – that was part of his fake “List of Donors” that covered up his trafficking in masses paperwork – that he did not produce at his trial. To date, nobody has produced anything from Saunière's archives to demonstrate he received a donation from the Countess of Chambord.

Doumerge refers to the Chambord/Chefdebien correspondence, without giving a link between that and Alfred Saunière or Bérenger Saunière's church renovations – and only by assuming that anyone linked with the Cercle was also automatically linked to Saunière's activities. (It was only Gérard de Sède in 1988, in his book Rennes-le-Château: le dossier, les impostures, les phantasmes, les hypothèses, who first claimed there was a link between Chefdebien and Alfred Saunière. Various researchers have looked for evidence without finding any.)

The fact that Saunière needed to pay 1,350 francs for his stained-glass windows in four instalments between 1887 and 1900 shows that Christian Doumergue's theories about the Cercle funding Saunière's renovations cannot be sustained and Alfred's link with the Cercle was only of a political nature.

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