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
4/22/1892 : fine weather, Marie goes on bringing my meals..
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.