You will find HERE recent discussions about the mysterious Canon Alfred Lilley, (1860-1948), who during the 1890's allegedly traveled to St Sulpice in Paris to decipher a “strange document” (or “documents”). These documents were supposed to be the same documents found by Sauniere [in his church at Rennes-le-Chateau] as reported by Lincoln et al in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
Paul Smith HERE jumps all over these assertions in an absolute panic with a bid to stop anyone even discussing the theories. And what is his explanation for the Reverend Bartlett talking about Canon Lilley and the 'incontrovertible proof' that Jesus survived the Crucifixion? He writes:
"Reverend Bartlett did not write his letter just after the showing of the documentary “The Lost Treasure of Jerusalem...?” in February 1972, but just after the publication of [an] Irving Wallace novel ..... It's significant that Reverend Bartlett's letter is dated 29 March 1972 – because several days previously on 27 March Irving Wallace's novel “The Word” was published – its central theme being the discovery of a parchment proving that Jesus Christ had survived the Crucifixion and died 19 years later."
For Smith "Reverend Bartlett's actions can be explained as a prank that backfired when it was all taken deadly seriously. Reverend Bartlett was simply engaging in a bit of fun".
That is to say that one month after the Lincoln documentary was aired Bartlett decided to do and say nothing. Two days after the book by Wallace had been published however Bartlett thought to play a joke on Lincoln by stealing the scenario in the Wallace book and saying to Lincoln that this is what the mysterious Sauniere documents were all about! Quite apart from the fact that several people had claimed the same assertions as the Wallace book through the years [i.e. that Jesus had survived the Crucifixion - so why wait for the Wallace book to appear?] - Bartlett after obtaining a copy of 'The Word' - read it & then came up with the idea of a school boy prank, sending a letter to Lincoln pretending Canon Lilley had told him about a document referring to Jesus surviving the Crucifixion. All this was accomplished in two days - and that two days would also have included the postage and delivery of said letter to Lincoln!!
Bartlett then met Lincoln et al face to face and added even more fuel to the fire by saying Lilley had told him he thought the document in question had originally been in the hands of the Cathars!
I must admit i had to laugh. Those great minds of Lilley and Bartlett & other ecclesiastics in the 19th century with their erudition and intellectual standing - contrast that with the mind of Paul Smith - who can only come up with such a theory to explain Bartlett's actions! I'm sure priests aren't averse to pranks - but really? In this instance? I mean, for a start, we don't even know if Bartlett read the book by Wallace! And have you noticed Smith - for every person said to have any involvement in the 'affair', his conclusions as to why they are involved are always because they are fraudsters with prison sentences [e.g. Plantard. Should we dismiss other people and what they say because they have had prison sentences?], or people playing hoaxes and pranks [Cherisey, and now Bartlett], or only out to make money [Corbu etc], or persons only interested in fame and glory [most researchers] - the list is endless.
What we could however ask is why an English man, Canon Lilley, was asked to go and look at the documents? France had its very own learned Catholic/Protestant priests and one wonders why Lilley was fetched from London. However, if we read the biographical details on Lilley from St Andrews University, where the Lilley archives are held, this is what they have to say about the man;
"Alfred Leslie Lilley (1860-1948) was born in the small town of Clare in Co. Armagh, Ireland. In 1860, he proceeded from school in Armagh to Trinity College Dublin where he graduated in 1889. After two years as a curate in Glendermott he moved to London, firstly as curate in Chelsea then as vicar in St Mary's Paddington.
Appointed to a canonry in Hereford Cathedral in 1911, he was promoted to the archdeaconry of Ludlow in 1913, a post he held until his retirement in 1936. Selected preacher at both of the ancient universities, his sermons and theological studies commanded respect amongst his peers, just as his indefatigable attempts to alleviate the lot of the poor and suffering commended him to a much wider communion. His social interests brought him into contact with the emerging Labour Party who counted him a welcome sympathiser. His interests in the demands of the modern world on the traditional theological presentation of the Christian message drew him into the group of Anglican modernisers.
With so much in common with modernists in the Roman Catholic Church it is not surprising to find Lilley to be a close friend of Baron Friedrich von Hügel nor to find him a confidant of many of the leading European Catholic modernists. His support was particularly important to his fellow Irishman, the Jesuit George Tyrrell. A man of great forbearance, of deep spirituality, of human sympathy and practical charity, he represented for many that which was best in the Liberal Anglican religious tradition". [see HERE].
It would be the last paragraph we are interested in.
The Dossiers secrets specifically state that the Paris trip of Sauniere took place in February 1891, immediately after Saunière found the parchments, which were hidden inside the Visigoth pillar that supported the altar. However, according to the villagers and other records, the work to replace the altar was carried out during the first renovations four years earlier. So was the Paris trip 1887? It would be significant because of the names he is supposed to have met in Paris. If Lilley was called over to visit Paris to see the documents it could only have occurred in 1891 or thereafter - any earlier and Lilley was still in Ireland.
If one actually studies the religious currents at the time of Lilley and his associates - it is not at all surprising that they doubted the veracity of the Resurrection. Learned priests all over the place were losing the faith, and said so on record that they could not countenance the literal truth in the Bible, and yes, this included the Resurrection. Now, whether this is related to a document that Sauniere found in his church i suspect we will never know.
But to suggest that " ...the closest thing that links Canon Lilley with St Sulpice was his admiration of John Baptist Hogan" is patently false.
Lilley carried on a huge correspondence with the Modernists, including Alfred Loisy, a French Roman Catholic priest, professor and theologian generally credited as founder of Biblical Modernism in the Roman Catholic Church. Loisy attended the seminary of Issy-les-Moulineaux where he met Ernest Renan [who wrote a book called the Life of Jesus, famous for is scholarship and historical method in analysing the life of Jesus. Renan for example, on the death of Jesus wrote that "It is evident, in fact, that doubts arose as to the reality of the death of Jesus. A few hours of suspension on the cross appeared to persons accustomed to see crucifixions entirely insufficient to lead to such a result. They cited many instances of persons crucified, who, removed in time, had been brought to life again by powerful remedies. Origen afterward thought it needful to invoke a miracle in order to explain so sudden an end. The same astonishment is found in the narrative of Mark."].
Renan also entered the college of St Sulpice in order to take his degree in philology prior to entering the church, and, here, he began the study of Hebrew; also studying at Issy-les-Moulineaux at this time was Alphonse Louis Constant, who after Issy, also went to study at the seminary of Saint-Sulpice [to learn theology]. He was ordained a sub-deacon and tonsured. Louis Constant had already met Grasset d'Orcet at the Collège de Juilly and in fact participated in an archaeological mission to Phoenicia with Ernest Renan in 1859-1861.
Abbé Constant, had been hired as a coach by the superior who was at that time the abbe Bonnechose (1800-1883), then Bishop of Carcassonne in 1847, then Evreux in 1854 and Rouen . Bonnechose actually taught at the College of Juilly. It should be known that Monseigneur Félix-Arsène Billard was the right arm of Bishop Bonnechose in Rouen as in Rome. It was Bonnechose who himself appointed Archbishop Billard to the Carcassonne diocese when he was forced to leave for Rouen. By studying the biographies of these two prelates, other surprises await us.
Loisy, Constant, Renan, d'Orcet, Bonnechose, Billard! We know that Monsignor Félix-Arsène Billard was protected by Cardinal Henri de Bonnechose, since 1860, at the time when he was archbishop of Rouen (Normandy). But from 1848 to 1865 Bishop Bonnechose himself had been archbishop of Carcassonne. This is certainly the occasion of one or other of his many and, apparently, meticulous, pastoral visits to churches in his diocese. He would naturally have transmitted any information to Billard & he will support the nomination to Carcassonne in 1881 of Billard.
There are suggestions also that Grasset d'Orcet was a friend of Henri Boudet. HERE is a signed copy of La Vrai Langue Celtique given to Orcet.
Going back to Loisy - he studied under Father Vigouroux at Saint Sulpice and in 1890 he became his assistant. By the time he took a course at Saint-Sulpice in scriptural interpretation, Loisy was already disillusioned with the Church's belief in the virgin birth and resurrection. And talking of Father Vigouroux here is a connection. Vigouroux taught in Paris for several years in Scripture at Saint Sulpice and at the Catholic Institute. Many religious dioceses of France who were educated in these places benefited from his teaching. This was the case of the Canon Jean Eugène Huguet to whom Sauniere confided his defense when he was called to trial by his new Bishop. The priest of Rennes-le-Château also talked with him throughout the course of his long trial. In a letter dated 2 May 1911, the canon evokes Huguet studied at St Sulpice and meeting with Fulcran Vigouroux;
"During my seminary at Saint Sulpice, I was fortunate to have as Professor of Hebrew and of Scripture, first Mr. Le Hir, an Orientalist - most distinguished. It was from him that Renan took all his notes which he has so abused in his Life of Jesus. Then I passed into the hands of Mr. Vigouroux. So I notes that these gentlemen [that] have made several trips to the Holy Land"
Besides Fulcran Vigouroux, in this extract the Council of Saunière also mentions Ernest Renan (Tréguier, 28 February 1823 - Paris, October 2, 1892) who held an important role within the Linguistics Society of Paris which will, in 1867, become the Presidency; the same Society which the abbe Henri Boudet would become a member of in December 1897.
In a second letter to the Abbe Sauniere, written Espiens April 25, 1912, the lawyer returns at the time of his studies in Paris
"My time at Montaubau coincides with the burial of a canon, former Superior of the Grand Seminary. While he held this position I dined with him several times in the Bishopric. He was professor at the Catholic University of Lille when he was called to take the leadership of the Major Seminary. This canon was a scholar; he had trained often in his room to entertain me [in] the method of M. Vigouroux, including [when] I was the student for reading and Hebrew construction".
This information is from Patrick Mensior [see HERE].
Lilley carried on an extensive letter correspondence with Loisy and many more. A canon at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street London, he was an intimate with Oscar Wilde and his estranged wife and a very good friend of GK Chesterton. He was friends with Friedrich von Hügel who in 1873 married Lady Mary Catherine Herbert (1849–1935), daughter of the statesman Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea, the Herbert family having some link to the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau.
Many of these new ages/modernist Catholic academic priests mixed with the occult and esoteric circles. It is not difficult to see how Emile Hoffet may have turned up in the mix, of which de Sede has alot to say about and to which i will report tomorrow!