The small village of Rennes-le-Château in southern France has been the center of an enigma ever since a century ago a local village priest, Bérenger Saunière, spent millions decorating the church and surrounding buildings. For decades, despite the skepticism of some authors, no one has been able to explain where Saunière got the money to pay for the extravagant building works, which have attracted millions of visitors to this small hilltop village—or, indeed, why he constructed them at all. The history of the village, Saunière’s access to money, and the trial engineered by his bishop to learn the secret of his wealth, his veneration of Mary Magdalene, his links with esoteric traditions, the construction of his “Great Work” and the creation of a Kabbalistic Tree of Life are but some of the secrets of the village and the man. So why did Saunière lavish a fortune on restoring the church and building the surrounding structures in the remote village of Rennes-le-Château. Dozens, if not hundreds, of books have been written on the subject. Amongst those, there are largely two trends.
One is that Saunière discovered a treasure, to do with the origins of Christianity, and hence blackmailed or otherwise benefited from this knowledge. This knowledge is believed to be about the role of Mary Magdalene in the early Church, though some also add the heretical notion that Jesus Christ might not have died on the Cross and that he might have accompanied Magdalene to France. Most other theories rely on some form of sacred geometry, in which certain features in the landscape are used to draw pentagrams and other shapes. However, just how Saunière could have financially benefited from knowledge of a sacred layout on the landscape, has never been shown. In 2008, evidence that Saunière was a member of a Freemasonic lodge was made public, clearly revealing a pattern showing that Saunière was a man with a deep interest in the esoteric. And this explains why he decided to incorporate such esoteric lore into the design of his estate, which was thus seen as a functioning alchemical Tree of Life.
But he left it to those who would carefully map his estate, and who would have a detailed esoteric knowledge, to understand what his master plan was all about.
Kemo D. 7