The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene holds a strong history in Rennes-le-Château. Among the conspiracy theories is the claim that Mary Magdalene moved with her family to Rennes, now Rennes-le-Château. This gives naming the church after her something to be expected. The Mary Magdalene Church today has many parts to it and some additions from Father Sauniere’s renovation.
The village church has been renovated many times before Sauniere’s renovation. The church shows some evidence that it could have been in ruins between the 10th and 11th century when another church was constructed on it. The church met by Father Sauniere was in a poor dilapidated state before he renovated it. Evidence of account books and receipts documented by the priest showed that Father Berenger Suaniere spent 11, 605 francs within a ten years period (1887-1897) to renovate the church. This includes the renovation of the church cemetery and the presbytery. The Mary Magdalene church is one of the places to visit when you’re touring the little village.
The New Additions
During the church’s renovation, Father Sauniere added some mystic touch to the finishes in some ways. One of such additions is the Latin inscription, Terribilis est locus iste at the top of the front entrance door. This translates to mean: “This is a place of awe”. Other inscriptions are, “This is God’s house, the gate of heaven, and it shall be called the royal court of God.”
A Rare Inclusion
Right inside the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene is a rare addition. The figure is that of a devil holding and supporting the holy water vessel. The original head got stolen and has never been recovered since 1996 when the incident happened. This type of image right inside a church is quite rare in church decorations though it is not particular to Saint Mary Magdalene’s church alone. Saint Vincent Church in Montreal is a typical example that showcases something similar.
The choice of the additional figures was entirely Sauniere’s idea and was picked from a catalog by Giscard, a painter, and sculptor who also sells sculptures and statues for the refurbishment of churches.
The construction of Tour Magdala was also funded by the priest and later renamed it after Mary Magdalene. This is the place Father Sauniere used as his library while serving as a priest in Rennes-le-Château. The design is in a circular form with connections to a conservatory. There is a promenade connecting the tower to the Villa Bethania, a building that is meant to serve as a home for retired priests, according to Father Sauniere during his trial.
The church dedication was done in 1897 by Bishop Monsignor Billard after the redecoration and renovation were finished. No doubt, the Church holds a strong link to the mysteries of Rennes-le-Château.
The church was the reason why Father Sauniere had to come to the village in the first place.