The above photo was taken around 1940 ..... and it shows the approach into the village of Rennes-les-Bains with one of its famous landmark's the Hotel de la Reine. This hotel is sited near to one of the famous hot thermal springs of which the village is even more famous. On the right side of the road one can clearly see the so-called Delmas cross - and it is conjectured that this cross was erected in commemoration of one of the priests of the village [he had been priest for around 60 years] after his death. He is well known to researchers into the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau because of a 'manuscript' he wrote in 1709. The manuscript describes various archaeological finds in the village.
Researchers often ask who originally put the Cross there and on what date? We know there were at least two priests by the name of Delmas living at Rennes-les-Bains. And in fact they were related to each other. The first, more well know one, was born in 1644. He became priest of Rennes-les-Bains in 1672. He died July 20, 1731 at the age of 87. If the Cross by the roadside is associated with this Delmas then perhaps the Cross was erected around 1731?
However, there may have arisen some confusion because it is:
"... thesuccessorof [the first] Antoine Delmas ... [who] must be the priest who wrote a manuscript referring to excavations and research he had conducted - his name was [also] Antoine Delmas (1674-1737).This Delmas was likely a nephew of the first, often confused with his uncle, who was also an amateur archaeologist. He buried his relative at the foot of the great cross in the cemetery of Rennes-les-Bains and followed him to the grave six years later. He was no less passionate about archaeology . He contributedto some discoveries during excavations on sites in the village.All the discoveries of these two men were on the death of the second Antoine Delmas, transmitted to a monk of Sorreze." [See HERE].
The great cross must be this one here:
There are some strange oddities in the proliferation of Delmas Crosses in the vicinity of Rennes-les-Bains!
Whichever Delmas it was - at some point the iron cross in the village as shown in the photograph above became associated with a Grand Roman burial [mainly because of the Delmas manuscript of 1709 which refers to a marble cippe found at Rennes and which some associated with the tomb of Pompey] so did some think the cross marked a tomb of importance? Village gossip suggested that there was indeed a tomb inside the mountain behind the cross 'marker'
The original photo above is found on the official website for the village of Rennes-les-Bains. However note the diagram below:
This is a drawing from the following book: Stations thermales de l'Aude - Rennes-les-Bains. It shows the entry into the village of Rennes-les-Bains around the time the book was published - i.e 1874. It was written by Dr Jean GOURDON. As you can see - the Delmas Cross was not there in 1874. I have highlighted in yellow [see below] a section where i think the Cross should have been - one can make out some rockfall etc but i cannot see any marker of any kind, whether it be a cross or otherwise. So either the Delmas Cross was erected in commemoration much later or it had been removed by the time Gourdon published his drawing. The most we can say anyway, is that in 1874 the Cross was not there but in 1940 it was. This gives a time span of 66 years in which it was decided by persons unknown to erect a cross in tribute to a Delmas in the village.
It is the strangest enigma because there are no fewer than 3 other crosses dedicated to a Delmas! You can see the two pictures i am discussing side by side below, just click on picture to enlarge it.