“Rennes-le-Château Treasure” Questions & Answers

Paul Smith

9 September 2015

1) - Is there any evidence that Saunière discovered anything when he began renovating his church?

First of all, the popular allegations started by Noël Corbu only date from the mid-1950s at the earliest. The allegations are not mentioned in the first popular article about Rennes-le-Château by Roger Crouquet dating from 1948 in Le Soir illustré. There is nothing dating from Bérenger Saunière's lifetime about a “treasure discovery”. The believers prefer to avoid these facts.

The earliest allegations were made by Noël Corbu during the mid-1950s after the death of Saunière's housekeeper, Marie Dénarnaud, in 1953. What's more, Corbu placed the year of the discovery in 1892, whereas it's known that Saunière began renovating his church in 1886. The believers who backdate “Saunière's discovery” from 1892 to 1886 are cheating because this is not what was mentioned in the earliest claims of the mid-1950s.

Secondly, it's unlikely that Bérenger Saunière discovered a “treasure” in 1892 because at the time he was living from borrowed money as his record books make clear: in July 1891 and in 7 November 1891 Saunière borrowed two amounts of 250 Francs from Madame Marre Barthélémy respectively.

2) - What about the testimony of Jean Girou from 1936 that local villagers believed Saunière “discovered a treasure”?

That's all we know from Girou, that the inhabitants of Rennes-le-Château during the 1930s believed Saunière discovered a treasure. We don't know if this involved parchments or anything else mentioned and claimed by Noël Corbu during the 1950s.

3) - What about the story of the bell-ringer, the baluster, and the glass-phial?

What about that story? It was never mentioned at any stage by Noël Corbu during the 1950s or the 1960s. It appeared out of nowhere. Its very first mention cannot even be exactly pinpointed. All we know for certain is that it is a story claimed by Antoine Captier, who rejects the traditional story of the “parchments discovery” of Noël Corbu of the 1950s.

4) - What about the story of the “pot with shiny, glinty objects”

Again, this story does not originate from 1892, but dates from after Corbu's initial claims dating from the mid-1950s. We don't have any accounts about this story dating from Bérenger Saunière's lifetime or indeed any secondary sources referring to it until after the success of Corbu's claims.

5) - What about the burial crypt beneath the church of Rennes-le-Château, commonly designated the “Tomb of the Lords”?

This is nothing unusual. It was commonplace for churches around Europe to have burial crypts and the church in Rennes-le-Château is no exception to this.

6) - What about the donation of 3,000 Francs to Saunière from the Countess of Chambord?

There is no evidence for this. This claim was first made by Saunière in his bogus “List of Donors” during his 1910-1911 ecclesiastical trial. There is nothing existing in Saunière's early records stating he received a donation from the Countess of Chambord. Saunière's claim in his “List of Donors” about the Countess of Chambord is no different to his other claims that he won a lottery in about 1887 and that a family of lodgers generated 52,000 Francs!

7) - But didn't the gift of 3,000 Francs by the Countess of Chambord to Saunière go through Dr Lassèrre of Limoux?

In the absence of proof, yet another myth (a story embraced by the Societe Perillos and in turn taken seriously by Paul Saussez).

8) - Wasn't Bérenger Saunière engaging in illicit nocturnal excavations in the cemetery with his housekeeper Marie Dénarnaud? Didn't the villagers petition two letters of complaint about these activities?

In March 1895 the municipal council of Rennes-le-Château submitted two letters of complaint to the Préfet de l’Aude about Saunière's activities in the cemetery that was not to their liking – but these complaints did not refer to desecrations or to the erasing of inscriptions. This was simply a case of Bérenger Saunière reorganising the cemetery without notifying the villagers or the municipal council beforehand.

9) - People now simultaneously believe in the discovery of the parchments, the phial in the baluster, and even in deposits in the Blanchefort mines that may have been the source of Saunière's wealth – haven't all these stories been taken into consideration several times over and been deemed to be mere anecdotes and apocryphal – dating from many decades after the alleged events?

Indeed, the believers in the “treasure discovery” have simply been repeating and recycling old material that failed the critical test the first time around during the 1950s. The believers refuse to acknowledge the existing testimony of Bérenger Saunière as found in his notebooks (carnets) relating to his trafficking in masses activities – and they also refuse to mention the three verdicts passed against Saunière in three ecclesiastical trials 23 July 1910, 15 October 1910 and 5 December 1911.

10) - So there were no “archives” in existence during the 1950s – or have appeared since – that serious historical researchers could access to confirm the allegations and stories about the parchments, the phial in the baluster, Saunière's nocturnal diggings in the cemetery being of a sinister nature, the donation by the Countess of Chambord, and Saunière's discovery of a tomb in September 1891?

Absolutely correct. The stories and allegations relating to “unusual activities at Rennes-le-Château” exist without any reliable foundations and that's why the subject matter of the “treasure of Rennes-le-Château” has never been taken seriously by mainstream archaeology and historians.

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