05 Sep

This is a translated article written by Christian DOUMERGUE. With thanks to Christian for permission to translate it.

Marie-Madeleine in Rennes-le-Château [article by Christian Doumergue © France-Spiritualités ™]

Christian Doumergue is the author of several books on the mystery of Rennes-le-Château ( Bérenger Saunière, free priest in Rennes-le-Château , L'Evangile interdict - Ste Marie Madeleine et le secret des Cathars , Rennes-le-Château , the great heritage ) as well as on Gnosis ( Gnosis for all ).

If the origin of Abbé Saunière's fortune is, despite the many researches carried out on this subject, still enigmatic, what he wanted to accomplish with the help of this fortune is, on the other hand, very clear: everything in the buildings of the priest, lets us guess that he aspired to make the village of Rennes-le-Château a great place of pilgrimage ... No doubt the priest had in mind the model of Lourdes: the city fascinates the priest to the point that, threatened by his bishop of being expelled from Rennes, he will consider residing there. This fact is necessary to relate to another: some of the first donors of the priest (I am thinking of Mme Cavaillé) have obviously had generosity towards him in gratitude for "miracles" operated on them in Rennes-le-Château ... Only, the Lourdes of Bérenger Saunière, is not dedicated to Marie, mother of Jesus, but to another Mary of the Gospels: Mary Magdalene.

Marie-Madeleine is involved in several evangelical episodes. Delivered from "seven demons" by Jesus, she then proceeded to anoint him (if we accept the identification, still disputed, with Mary of Bethany) and therefore made him Christ (in Greek: the Anointed). Still according to this identification, Jesus resuscitated Lazarus, the brother of Mary Magdalene. In another passage, he defends her against the accusations of her sister Martha, who blames her for not helping her prepare the table with her but for preferring to sit at the Saviour's feet. Jesus explains to Martha that Mary chose the "best part": she is the model of the contemplative life, while Martha represents the active life. Assistant at the Crucifixion (she is with John and Mary, mother of Jesus , at the foot of the Cross ), then at the tomb, Marie de Magdala is the first witness of the Resurrection of Jesus . According to the Provençal legend, fleeing the persecutions that the Jews thereafter directed against the Christians, she finally embarked for Marseilles, where she would have converted to the new faith, before retiring in the massif of Sainte-Baume, and to die there ...

In the church of Rennes-le-Château, whose walls are covered with the glyph " SM " ("Sainte Madeleine"), Bérenger Saunière has multiplied the scenes representing the saint: a life-size statue represents Madeleine bearing a cross of wood (recalling her role in the evangelizing of Provence) and the vessel; a bas-relief placed under the altar, the hermit figure at Sainte-Baume; a stained glass window represents the episode of "the best part"; another shows the resurrection of Lazarus; finally, a rose window: shows the anointing at Bethany ... In the sacristy, a fourth stained-glass window depicts Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross.

Compared to any other village church dedicated to Mary Magdalene, the number of representations of the saint is particularly important here. The most astonishing, however, concerns the exterior of the church. Indeed, the so-called "civil" constructions of the priest are, like the village church, dedicated to the saint: the Renaissance-style villa built by the priest is baptized Béthanie (place of residence of Marie-Madeleine and her sister Martha) and a Gothic-inspired library tower named Magdala (the village where Mary Magdalene was born, and where, according to the traditions of the middle ages, there was also a sumptuous palace ...). The garden of Calvary was also dedicated to the saint. In the artificial caves which the priest had built there was placed a statue of the saint in prayer. This statue has now disappeared and only the postcards edited by the priest bear witness to her past presence. (They show us a statue identical to that still found in the cemetery of Limoux, at the foot of the cross of the tomb of the priests ...)

Why did Father Saunière voluntarily exclude from his church the essential scene in the life of the saint?

All the episodes from the life of the saint reported by the New Testament are therefore represented by Saunière in his Work, with the exception of one, which is paradoxically the most important. Contrary to all likelihood, the resurrection of Jesus, the most famous moment in the life of Mary Magdalene, is not mentioned by Abbé Saunière neither in the church, nor outside the church!

However, for this oversight, there is no satisfactory "material" explanation.

One would have thought that the priest had wanted to exploit only one particular theme of the saint, that of sin: his writings suggest that the idea of sin haunted him. The fact that he includes in the rose window, ie the window which, by its disposition in space, occupies the most important place in the church, the anointing of Bethany (which also happens to be the moment when Madeleine repents of her faults), and, on the low relief of the altar, the penance of Marie-Madeleine at Saint Baume, gives a certain ideological orientation which goes in this direction. However, the existence of this supposed theme does not justify the omission of the appearance of the risen Christ to Mary Magdalene. The stained glass window of "the best part ", no more than the resurrection of Lazarus, does not fit into this dynamic: they are nevertheless found in the church of Rennes , prominently in the choir!

Another explanation could have been the lack of space. Again, this justification must be rejected: there are still many unhistoried stained glass windows in the church .

The reason is not financial either. Apart from the stained glass windows dedicated to Mary Magdalene, Father Saunière has placed a fifth historiated stained glass window in the nave depicting the mission of the Apostles.  If these three hypotheses, which constitute the only possible material justifications, are in turn invalidated, it is  because there is another origin than a practical cause for this absence ... an origin which would take us into the game hidden from the life of Abbé Saunière ... 

Because the priests posthumous teaching - if there is any - is undoubtedly based on this omission of the appearance of the Risen One to Madeleine, an omission oh so heavy with meaning for Catholic dogma ...seeing in the resurrection a spiritual phenomenon comparable to the Awakening of the Buddhists, the Gnostics of the first centuries denied the materiality of the resurrection of Christ. The Cathars will take up the same concept later, as will the members of the Gnostic Church of Jules Doinel. This last church was contemporary with Saunière. Some of its members believed that Mary Magdalene had brought the body of Jesus back to the South of France to shelter it from men. At a time when Saunière builds his domaine, we found a number, not least around Rennes-le-Château : Doinel himself in Alet-les-Bains, Déodat Roché at Arques ... Is is this a simple game of coincidences or the part of a 2000 year old secret? The Quest for Truth continues ...

© Christian Doumergue

* The email will not be published on the website.