Bérenger Saunière, the man, the priest
To celebrate - or mourn - in 2017 the centenary year of his death in 1917
It was with great surprise that Val realised, among all the books written about Rennes-le-Château in English, most were about the mysteries and the treasure; not one was a biography of its famous priest, Bérenger Saunière.
She found that the usual picture painted of him, of a penniless country character (in a threadbare soutane?) earning only 19 francs a year, is quite false. His family had been associated with the Church and with the minor aristocracy of the region for hundreds of years. He was well-thought of and admired, he was highly erudite, and he was passionately religious. But he was a man as well as a priest . . . women adored him, sighing with longing as he went past, while his fellow Languedocians admired him and accepted him into their tightest of closed circles. Read the chapter about the 17th January! It was the day of his fatal stroke and he died on the 22nd to be buried on the 24th.
He lived through a time of great political and religious changes, insisting on the supremacy of the Church while he personally had the courage and daring - or the right? - to defy convention. He was more secretive about the friends he met on his hidden journeys than the admiration of women when he nearly left the Church. And he had the constant support of his companion Marie Denarnaud, who knew his secrets but still worshipped him.
Val has known Rennes-le-Château and all its implications for history and religion, for over thirty years, so she includes various researching adventures of her own, which explain why she feels she knows Bérenger so well.
Investigating the church porch, way back in 2005
The book has 180 pages, size 16cm wide by 22cm high and is illustrated throughout, in Val's style, in colour and black-and-white.
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