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An article from Paul Smith's website

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No treasure at Rennes-le-Château!


Excavations conducted beneath the Tour Magdala at Rennes-le-Château on 20 August 2003 in search of treasure yielded negative results – involving Professors Eisenman and Baratollo, who have both been working on this project since April 2001.

The negative results should not surprise informed researchers who have known for decades that no "treasure" at Rennes-le-Château ever existed and is merely the fantasy of confidence tricksters and catchpenny authors.

That an archaeological dig in the first place should have been carried out at Rennes-le-Château during recent years is in itself a statement of sheer ignorance on the part of those archaeologists and scholars concerned – it demonstrates that they failed to read reliable scholarly books on the subject matter that reproduced primary source evidence relating to the activities of the abbé Bérenger Saunière and were instead impressed by pseudo-historical and sensationalist waffle.

The life of the abbé Bérenger Saunière is very well documented and bears no relation to the fantastic claims that have been written about him.

Saunière was just an ordinary Roman Catholic French priest who happened to hit the jackpot when he sold masses during the conflict between Church and State in France 1885-1905 (advertising in religious papers, magazines and journals around the world). The fact is that he lived in poverty for most of his life except during those years just mentioned. Saunière’s estate was valued at 18,000 francs by the Crédit Foncier de France in 1913 when he asked it for a loan in order to clear his debts (he was offered 6,000 francs). 18,000 francs could easily have been raised through the selling of masses. Saunière died in both debt and in poverty in January 1917, following his interdiction as a priest by the Carcassonne Bishopric in 1911 for accepting more money than he was able to say masses for (his Notebooks demonstrate this). Saunière never regained his priesthood, contrary to popular accounts, and he did receive the Last Rites on his deathbed.

These facts have appeared in two French notable books – Mythologie du trésor de Rennes by René Descadeillas in 1974, and in Autopsie d’un mythe by Jean-Jacques Bedu in 1990. Both books contain references to primary sources.

That the priest Saunière got his wealth from the selling of masses is of course droll and boring, and not half as exciting as believing that his wealth came from discovering a "treasure" – which of course produces sparkles in the brain.

The story of Saunière discovering a "treasure" was created by Noel Corbu when he opened a restaurant in the Villa Bethanie during Easter in 1955, and needed a publicity gimmick in order to attract custom to his establishment. In 1967 a book by Gérard de Sède was published that provoked a warning in the local religious journal from Monsignor Georges Boyer, the Vicar General of Carcassonne, who was later to outline the faults in de Sède’s book in a local newspaper.

Many archaeological digs – both official and unofficial – have been carried out at Rennes-le-Château during the 1950s alone (both inside and outside the Church) and a very good account of these activities can be found in Mythologie du trésor de Rennes by René Descadeillas.


The most interesting account relating to Bérenger Saunière came from a Monsieur Espeut, relating to his activities of the 1920s:

"...I would like to state that the Abbé Saunière never found any treasure. You see, I was actually born in Espéraza. My family knew the Dénarnaud family. In 1925, when I was 14 years old, I used to go up regularly to Rennes-le-Château. I used to go and see Marie Dénarnaud. She was living in rather pitiable circumstances. I did my harmony lessons on the organs in the salon, which have now disappeared. In the library of the Tour Magdala, I read all the correspondence of the priest with his ecclesiastical lawyer at the time of his trial at the court of Rome. It was by collecting money for saying masses that the Abbé Saunière was able to construct his estate. He published small ads in the Catholic press throughout the world. I was able to read their texts, and I have seen thousands of replies. I would also like to state that, between the ages of 15 and 20, I thoroughly searched the area within a 500-metre radius of the Villa and the Tour Magdala. I never found the slightest evidence of a hidden treasure. I am telling you this out of respect for the truth..." (Midi Libre, 13 February, 1973).

It must be stressed that none of the essential French books on Rennes-le-Château have ever been translated into English, so the truth about the abbé Bérenger Saunière is never likely to be made available to the English-Language world. English-Language Publishers only accept Manuscripts for publication that further promote the myths and fantasies. And publishers like Leyden Brill of Holland would not accept any Manuscript of any sort on Rennes-le-Château simply because it would be regarded by them as marginal lunatic-fringe material.

by Paul Smith


What Smith doesn't tell you

  1. The selling of masses story as an explanation for Saunière's sudden wealth is PROVEN hogwash.

    Link here


  3. The first authorised excavation of the church at Rennes-le-Château happened during the late 1950s/early 1960s and was conducted by Professor Jacques Cholet from Paris. His investigations yielded negative results:

    "On my own account I excavated both under and behind the altar but found nothing. I also excavated in line with and in front of the altar - again nothing.….I was also made to tear up the floor of the church, starting from the pulpit: my sponsor, a pendulum enthusiast, had located the entrance of the underground passageways there – but we found nothing. I persevered as far as the foundations of the church, digging as far as virgin soil. We found the outline of numerous empty vaults. We resumed the same task along the south wall, with approximately the same result, the only difference being that all the human remains, which were missing on the other side, had been placed there higgledy-piggledy. On the advice of a female clairvoyant we were urged to excavate behind the altar – but found nothing." (Cholet's Report, dated 25 April 1967.)


What of course Smith skilfully sidesteps here is the rest of Professor Cholet's report about the treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau. Which you can read here. Professor Cholet applied for permission to dig in 1955 and it was granted in 1959.

As you will see the impression that Smith is trying to portray that academia has investigated all this and found nothing isn't quite true. In that very same report Cholet said this:

We now have to draw some sort of conclusion from the foregoing.

As regards the Celtic Temple - The best way of penetrating it would be to follow the first route of Curé Saunière, i.e. the site of the slab called the ‘tombstone of the Chevalier’. Knowledge of this location is not entirely lost: two people are in on the secret but it's a secret that they are keeping to themselves. Not very much work would be required in the rock garden to find the second path. But in both cases you would run up against the veto of the Municipality.

B) From all that has been written above we can conclude that there are two quite separate things with no connection between them:

1° The former Temple with its treasure or treasures.

2° The underground passageway of the castle containing the 'baggage' of the Lady Regent.

C) If it should ever be someone's good fortune to penetrate into the underground passages or the former Celtic Temple then the greatest caution is urged: oubliettes, fall-traps and other kinds of traps can unleash themselves in the path of the unwary. The stone mechanisms of mediaeval times were built to last, as the adventure of the mercenaries of 1365 proves.

In fact as you can see Prof Smith didn't say what Smith says he said AT ALL. He said:

On my own account I excavated both under and behind the altar but found nothing. I also excavated in line with and in front of the altar - again nothing. Under the staircase of the pulpit is another staircase that runs down to the cemetery. In the small tower to the left of the sacristy it seems that the stones of the party wall with the apse are arranged in the form of a discharging arch, but this is vague. Under the floor of the sacristy I found the beginning of a staircase running southwards. Its steps were roughly hewn and it was as wide as the entry to the sacristy. In the year in question I had to abandon my researches, as both my holidays and my financial resources had come to an end.

French not too good Mr Smith? Suggest a few lessons. here



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