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Berenger Saunière

Bérenger Saunière

François Berenger Saunière was born on April 11th, 1852 in Montazels.
 He was the eldest of 7 children: 3 sons (Alfred, Martial, Joseph) and 3 daughters (Mathilde, Adeline, Marie-Louise). He was the son of Marguerite Hugues and Joseph Saunière (1823-1906), also called "cubié". His father had been the mayor of Montazels. He also managed the flour mill and he was the steward of Marquis de Cazermajou's castle. His three sons studied a lot. Alfred became a priest; Joseph wanted to be a physician but he died at 25. Berenger was insolent, independent, fundamentalist. He rebeled against hierarchy. He was an athlete, with deep eyes. He went at school at St. Louis in Limoux. He entered the seminary in Carcasonne in 1874. He was ordained as a priest in June, 1879. He was a vicar in Alet from July 16th 1879 to 1882, a priest in the deanery of Clat (282 inhabitants) from June, 1882 to 1885. He was a teacher in the seminary in Narbonne but, because he was unsisciplined, he was appointed to Rennes le Château (298 inhabitants) on June 1st, 1885. He was anti-republican and he had to leave the diocese from December 1st to July, 1886 to give lessons once more in the seminary of Narbonne. As the villagers wanted him to come back, the prefect changed his mind and called him back. In May 1890, he also said mass in Antugnac on Sundays. At fifty he had a glass eye. He often played lottery (loterie de la maison des artistes)

He had an ambiguous relationship with Marie Denarnaud. When he arrived, he lived with Marie's family in the presbytery, but as he didn't get along very well with her mother, he left and lived in the building that he had built next to the churchyard. One can read in his diary
4/19/1892 : came back from Carcassonne, drama on the evening, Marie came back home.
 4/22/1892 : fine weather, Marie goes on bringing my meals..

 He resigned on February 1st, 1909 and was no longer a priest in 1911. He was sued for trafficking in masses in 1915. He lived the rest of his life penniless, selling religious medals and rosaries to wounded soldiers who were stationed in Campagne les Bains. He was accused of taking in German spies.

 He had a attack on January 17th 1917, and he died on January 22nd.

When he died, many books from his library were bought by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, a British organization which also bought Father Hoffet's library.

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