Did you mean?Try your search again
"Terribilist est locus iste," is in engraved in capital letters above the door of St. Mary Magdalene Church. ..."This place is terrifying." (Even my simpleton knowledge of language can translate that little bit of Latin.) A warning to all those who enter? Some scholars and conspiracy theorist have argued that's not right, not what it means, some have even been bold enough to state the words aren't even there, but they are here--right in front of my eyes.
Crossing the door's threshold, there's no going back. My heart pounds quickly in my chest. It's here, I knew it would be here, but now that I see it I don't think I should have. To my left, just inside the church's door, is Asmodeus, forever staring angrily with bulging, blue eyes. This 3-foot tall statue is a bright, red demon--complete with claws, horns, pointed ears, jet-black goatee, and bat wings; mouth agape in a tortured, angry howl. I ask you, what sort of church greets its parishioners with a demon? The uninitiated to legends of Rennes-le-Chateau might automatically assume this was the Devil, good old Lucifer himself, but it's generally agreed on that it's Asmodeus--one of the seven princes of hell; the demon in charge of the sin of sexual lust, who helped build Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, and is thought of as generally handsome (as far as demons go, anyway). Ironically, Asmodeus is said hate water because it reminds him of God, but what's he carrying on his back? A large bowl full of the church's holy water!
I cautiously tear my eyes away from the statue and towards the inside of the church. As my vision adjusts to the darkness inside, I am greeted by what I can only call a ocular cacophony. It's nothing but sheer noise for eyesight--almost painful to look at, if that's possible. "There's too much...," I mumble. And there is too much--too many statues, too much colour, too many words, excessive gold trim, the floor tiled in gleaming black-and-white, the pews placed a little too close together.
My friend, Lynn, brushes my shoulder to let me know she is there. "See, on the altar," I whisper, "who's the baby the Virgin Mary's holding?" "Easy," she replies, "that's Jesus!" I then point to the other side, "Then what baby is Joseph's holding?" Lynn looks chilled. "It's Thomas," I answer, "Jesus's twin brother." Thomas gets very little airtime in modern Christianity. I guess a twin for the saviour would just confuse a lot of people and raise some serious questions. How could a woman give birth to twins--one divine and one not? Where did the other seed come from if she was virginal? Lynn says, "I'm going outside, this place gives me the creeps." Honestly it gives me the creeps too, and I'd like nothing more than to leave (my stomach is upset and my hands are trembling), yet I decide to take time examining things for a little while longer. However, I'm well aware this place has led many to obsess and even driven an unlucky few to clinical insanity.
The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, so simple in appearance from the outside, is thought to have been originally built in the 10th or 11th century. It was then renovated into this garish cryptogram by a wayward piest by the name of Berenger Sauniere between 1887 and 1897.
Over the next hour, Lynn and I tour the rest of the Berenger Sauniere Center: the presbytery where Sauniere lived (now a museum), where I am most fascinated by a dinosaur egg found on the premises; the Villa Bethania, a luxurious home the priest had constructed to host lavish parties; the Magdala Tower, which served primarily as a library and offers stunning views of the surrounding Languedoc countryside from its rooftop; and the garden, where Sauniere's remains now rest in a small tomb. I pause for awhile beside his stone coffin and can't help but ask out loud, "You miserable, old priest! ...What did you do here?!"
Updated Sep 7, 2012
If you come to Rennes le Chateau in search of treasure, you should visit the Tour Magdala, since Abbe Sauniere had it built under strict guidelines. It most likely has something to do with the location of the treasure! Pay attention to the curious miniature tower on top of the tower. Does it have some deeper meaning?
Updated Jul 18, 2004
Address: Rennes le Chateau
I don't know if it's the thin air up here from the high altitude, the generally bizarre atmosphere of Rennes-le-Chateau, or what, but after touring "Sauniere's Domain", I really need to sit down, have a drink, and maybe something to eat because I'm feeling a little bit faint. My travel companion, Lynn, and I decide on a patio place, "Bar Restaurant au Jardin", so we can relax outside and enjoy the weather on this perfect summer day. ...And so she can get some sun. (It's been a rainy year in England and I've learned that, like drug-addicted fiends, the British will seek and soak up solar rays at every possible opportunity.)
The waiter hands me a menu and without really looking at it, I decide on the kitschy-tourist options--a bottle of "Abbaye" beer and the "Templar Platter". Lynn also orders herself a bottle of Abbaye.
It doesn't take long for the food and drink to arrive and I'm thrilled with the platter--tomatoes with mozzarella, lots of bread, fresh salmon slices, beets, coleslaw, and a generous helping of couscous. "Wow, that looks nice doesn't it? Very healthy!," Lynn remarks. I set about making delicious mini sandwiches with all the ingredients.
An elderly gentleman with snow white hair and matching beard calmly sits down at the table next to us, carefully removes a laptop computer from its case, adjusts his spectacles and green safari jacket, and is greeted warmly by the waiters. He's joined shortly by three well-dressed middle-aged people--two men and a woman, and they begin an animated conversation in French.
"That," I whisper, pointing nonchalantly with my fork, "is Henry Lincoln." "Who?," Lynn asks. "You know, the author of the book 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' that you brought with you? ...He also wrote some 'Doctor Who' episodes." Lynn looks at me as though I've finally lost whatever marbles were left in my head. She glances at the man, then back at me, and repeats the motion several times over while I eat. "No way, you think?," she asks, "That would be a really weird coincidence!" "There's no such thing as coincidence in Rennes-le-Chateau," I say matter-of-factly, repeating a mantra I'd read many times.
Having finished my massive Templar lunch and paid our bill, I walk over to the adjacent table. Although I feel bad about interrupting the conversation, I have to be sure about this so I ask the man in French, "Excuse me, you're not Henry Lincoln, are you?" His bright blue eyes gaze straight up at mine and he replies with bluster, "I'm not? That's interesting. Very well then, I am not Henry Lincoln!" At this point, a brief, unspoken eye-locked mental battle ensues. I know that I am defeated as far as intelligence and quick wit goes, but he realizes that I have the upperhand because I've correctly ID'ed him yet he doesn't know me from Adam. I'm also well aware that this guy loves attention. I decide on something diplomatic yet sly in response, "Very well then, you are Henry Lincoln! ...Or is this another one of your Rennes mysteries?" He shifts his gaze down toward the table top and hangs his head, "Guilty," he answers (in French). Overhearing this confirmation, Lynn comes bounding over to the table to introduce herself. The sight the tanned, young lady perks Henry right up--his posture becomes straight, a trace of a smile cracks his facade, and he lights a cigarette. Ah, cleavage always makes things easier. We ask if we can have our photo taken with him and he obliges, pretending all the while that it's an annoying hassle yet somehow unable to conceal pleasure with his own notoriety. Witnessing our photo session, other tourists begin to crowd around to shake Lincoln's hand and have photos taken with him and I begin to feel sort of bad for having exposed him in the first place. We say "thank you," and walk off toward the restaurant exit. Suddenly, I crack my head extremely hard on the concrete door frame. The world flashes in blue, green and yellow spots and I have to sit down on the curb. I touch a finger to a spot in my hair and it comes back covered with drops of blood. "You're shaking!," Lynn gasps, "Look at your hands!" My hands are indeed trembling uncontrollably. It takes a full five minutes to regain my composure, all the while I'm thinking, "This Rennes place is full of the Devil!"
Updated Aug 2, 2012
It's difficult to issue a warning to travellers when you don't know exactly what the danger is that you're warning about. However, I'll try and explain... It took a lot of contemplation and a very long time after my visit to attempt to put this into words, so please--bear with me?
Growing up, I was always fascinated by stories of myths, monsters, ghosts, and aliens. Although I was always skeptical (except maybe in the case of aliens), these tales gave me a true sense of wonder and provided endless firewood for my roaring imagination.
Now, about Rennes-le-Chateau... There's a Latin phrase (sometimes used in magic circles), "obscurum per obscurius, ignotum per ignotius". Translated it literally means, "obscure by the more obscure, the unknown by means of the more unknown". What that means is the explanation of something is even crazier than the crazy thing you're trying to learn about in the first place. Sort of like unwinding an infinite roll of string or trying to bail out the ocean. I think this is something that firmly applies to Rennes.
I'm generally an unbeliever, but I had intense nightmares about Rennes the night before my visit. When I woke and started to shower, the power to my hotel room cut out for 5 minutes and I was left in pitch darkness in the windowless bathroom. I imagined the town was reaching evil, phantasmal, squid-like tendrils towards me, warning me of danger yet pulling me in at the same time. I didn't listen. We got lost driving on the highway for awhile, but within two hours we were ascending the mountain to Rennes-le-Chateau. Whether it was thin air due to altitude, too many beers drank the night before, or something supernatural I couldn't grasp, while at Rennes-le-Chateau I felt sickly most of the time, out-of sorts the rest, I smashed my head very hard on a concrete doorframe. That last thing drew blood. Bad! (My computer just crashed while writing this--I had to reboot. No, I'm not kidding.)
Here's another thing: It changed me. Permanently. But I'm not sure how and wish I did. Occasionally I imagine an old Cathar or Visigoth spirit got into me when I wasn't looking and is still rattling around in there a full year later. Whenever I see photos of Rennes now or even read the town's name somewhere, my stomach flips and I swallow hard. They say Rennes is on a ley line--these are specific currents of energy that criss-cross the earth, joining together places of geographical, historical, and spiritual interest. It has something nutty to do with "scared geometry".
Congratulations on reading this far, you're very patient, aren't you? One of my points is: once you've seen something, you can't un-see it. Once you've read something, you can't un-read it. Do I want to go back to Rennes? Hell, no! Would I go back to Rennes? Absolutely!
I would really only recommend travelling to Rennes if you're a diehard on the mystery or if you're deeply interested in magic and the occult. Casual observers should just keep driving right on by this place. There's greater things to be seen not too far up the road. Best to stay away, right? Why risk it? After all, even if you don't believe in ouija boards, you wouldn't try and conjure a demon with one, would you? ...Just in case? You probably don't want a prince of hell actually showing up in your living room, growling, and demanding what you woke him up for. ...Besides, he'll burn your curtains!
So, I think it only fair to write--you could get hurt spiritually here. You could get hurt psychologically. Physically, maybe even. ...Or you could be fine.
Updated Sep 7, 2012
" This 'château' - from the size of its ruins it was more probably just a watchtower or outpost - is linked with the mystery because of the frequent appearance of the name. The Hautpouls, for example, were granted the title of Marquis de Blanchefort.
The origins and history of this 'chateau' are unknown. Many believe it was destroyed during the Albigensian (anti-Cathar) Crusade.
There were once gold mines in that area - giving rise to legends of a fabulous treasure guarded by the devil - and Pierre Plantard bought land nearby." (text from Pharo.com)
Written Jul 18, 2004
Favorite thing: The Holy Grail
Fondest memory: Hello ,
I solved Berenger Sauniere's secret. I explained my solution at my website http://www.gradale.com
Berenger Sauniere found the third scroll and kept it at the church of St. Madeleine.
Berenger Sauniere knew where is hidden the Holy Grail. He learned this information by third scroll.
Quest Finished. Where is the Holy Grail Hidden
Written May 19, 2008