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Mary Alice Bennett is an archaeological restoration artist who lives in the Sonoran desert near the border with Mexico. As an art history student, she has had a life-long fascination with Leonardo DaVinci and also with studying the ancient mysteries. Since her church has a long tradition about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the Dan Brown book was not new information to her. "The DaVinci Code" aside, here are more clues in the work of Leonardo to ponder. Email Mary Alice Bennett.

The Sauniere Mysteries: The Priest Exonerated?
by Mary Alice Bennett


Posted: 00:10 August 7, 2008

The ritual murder at the beginning of “The Da Vinci Code” was based on a similar case that occurred near Rennes-le-Chateau in Coustaussa that has remained unsolved. The source of the funding behind the Rennes-le-Chateau mansion and other building projects is still a mystery as well. Is there a connection between there two enigmas?

The brutality of the murder of Abbe Gelis on the night of Oct. 31, 1897 in Coustaussa is a clue to the identity of the perpatrator, it was the doing of the same gang that caused the First World War. Abbe Gelis was said to have always been looking over his shoulder, he was a man who never left the door to his rectory unlocked. Perhaps he was aware of a certain undercover visitor to the Languedoc who was being followed by an assassin. This illustrious personage was there to visit a fellow village priest who could be mistaken for Gelis himself.

The Source of the Wealth


Chambord castle

The first donation to Beranger Sauniere was from the Countess de Chambourd, widow of the pretender to the throne of France, Henri V. She was interested in the preservation of the homeland of the Hautpoul family and in the documents that were hidden there concerning the Merovingian genealogy of the Hautpoul lineage. When Sauniere discovered those parchments, his fortune began to change for the better. When the Countess passed away, the funding continued thanks to her nephew, Johann Salvator of the House of Hapsburg who was known to have visited Rennes-le-Chateau in 1889 – 1890.

This royal descendant was fearful that a revolution similar to the recent revolution in France might topple his own family in Austria and for this reason he distanced himself from the Hapsburgs, claiming to have disowned them. He changed his name more than once and eventually disappeared. He was declared dead in 1911.

It was this Hapsburg that opened accounts for himself and the priest Sauniere in the same bank. These funds paid for the construction of the mansion house and other improvements to the church complex. Perhaps the mansion was actually built as a haven in case of an Austrian revolt. Beranger Sauniere and his housekeeper lived a lavish lifestyle and entertained aristocrats at Rennes-le-Chateau. Was there a guest among them who was using a secret civilian identity to meet with friends while on the run?

When Sauniere died, among his correspondence were envelopes stamped with the address of a bank in Budapest. He had been receiving money and also mailing checks out to another party in Hungary within the Hapsburg realm.


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