Rennes-le-Château’s clandestine past continues to stir intrigue till date. This small medieval castle village attracts umpteen visitors every year for, other than its magnificent views, being at the centre of beguiling conspiracy theories. These theories have even inspired notable works in pop culture— the documentaries by Henry Lincoln and Dan Brown’s novel Da Vinci Code, which was later adapted into a major motion picture of the same name.
Rennes-le-Château’s conspiracy theories are intricate and have many branches and interpretations to it. However, at the heart of it is the priest Saunière and his ostensible discovery of treasure, also refer to as the ‘Lost Treasure of God’.
The Story Of Saunière
It dates back to 1880s. Saunière, a village priest, took the onus of refurbishing the old church of Mary Magdalene. Despite having meagre income, Saunière was able to raise considerable funding for the renovation. It’s believed that during this renovation Saunière stumbled upon a lot of wealth and some astounding secrets, which were in the form of parchments concealed inside a pillar of the Church’s altar.
There are a lot of evidences of Saunière sudden discovery of wealth. Throughout the 1890s, he splurged on lavish renovations and buildings spending approximately more than 650,000 francs. That was a huge sum to bear for a his modest finances. Conjectures were also afloat that he practised ‘mass trafficking’—common in the 19th century.
Later, as researchers delved deeper, it was anticipated that Saunière discovery was not merely an innocuous secret. Rather, it could be a vital truth about Christianity that was intentionally buried down.
Could Saunière have possibly discovered treasure and documents that indicated Christ’s descendants have lived in the village?
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Theories And Interpretations
When Henry Lincoln—the writer of BBC’s famous sci-fi show ‘Doctor Who’—learnt about Saunière’s mysterious wealth, he decided to narrate the story to the world. His documentary ‘The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem’ was a magnum success. And that encouraged him to delve deeper into the truth and eventually come up with two more documentaries. He collaborated with historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh to investigate further details.
The trio went on to propose a staggering hypothesis. As per them, the documents discovered by Saunière could indicate the existence of the Merovingian bloodline. In that case, the priest stumbled upon one of the most contentious and feared truth of Christianity—Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children. This refutes the longstanding idea of Jesus being the God and establishes him as a common man. According to the authors, the descendants of Jesus Christ migrated to Rome and formed the Merovingian royal dynasty.
The treasure and the documents discovered by Saunière was of that dynasty. And consequently, the treasure is also referred to as the ‘Treasure of God.’
Lack Of Solid Closure
However, in spite of such intriguing theories, the story never got a consolidated closure. While the works of the author and also the inscriptions on the Church of Mary Magdalene have been highly indicative of ‘Treasure of God’. But with equally strong opposition in place, it stills remains a conspiracy theory.