A short while ago I managed to get hold of a copy of the 1961 Rennes-le-Chateau film staring Noel Corbu as l'abbe Saunière, called La Rue Tourne.
Noel Corbu as Bérenger Saunière the priest of Rennes-le-Chateau, for the film, La Rue Tourne
If Noel Corbu didn't write the script, he certainly seemed to have contributed heavily to the story portrayed in the film.
A young Noel Corbu pointing at the Mary Magdalene church Altar and Noel older.
Noel Corbu was a hotelier in the small French village of Rennes-le-Château. In 1946 Noel Corbu purchased the former estate of the Abbé Bérenger Sauniere, the former priest of Rennes-le-Chateau between 1885-1909, and during Easter 1955 he opened a restaurant in the Villa Bethania, later also turned into a Hotel. The hotel itself faced some difficulties due to its fairly isolated location.
Between 12th and 14th January 1956, the local newspaper, La Depeche du Midi serialized an interview with Noel Corbu in which he claimed that Father Saunière had discovered the treasure of Blanche of Castile the wife of Louis VIII and the regent of the future Saint Louis. This story was repeated by other French newspapers, lending the hotel a mysterious reputation which made it popular.
Noel Corbu's Newspaper Articles - Original French Newspapers that spurned the myth to a larger French audience
French Television later made a film casting Noel Corbu as l'Abbe Saunière called La Rue Tourne. The film covers Sauniere's arrival at Rennes-le-Chateau in 1885, to find the church and presbytery in a poor state.
Sauniere's arrival at Rennes-le-Chateau in 1885
Discovery of the Glass Phial
It is said that as Sauniere's bell-ringer is walking through the church when he notices notices something on the floor by the discarded Pulpit post. Walking over he picks it up to find it is a small glass vial with what looks like a piece of parchment inside. He then notices a small compartment in the baluster, and realizes the phial must have fallen out. Without realizing its importance, he hands it over to his priest, l'Abbe Sauniere.
Bell-Ringer notices something on the floor by the discarded Pulpit post. Walking over picks it up.
It is a small glass vial fallen from a secret compartment in the old wooden pulpit post. He gives it to his priest l'Abbe Sauniere.
Discovery of the Knights Stone
Much of the film showing the church interior before Sauniere's renovations, was filmed in San Salvayre church, as seen in the photograph below showing the discovery of the Knights Stone.
Workman begin digging in front of the altar
Workman discover the Knights Stone
Sauniere's Nocturnal Digging
After Sauniere's discoveries in the church, his nocturnal excavations begin. His housekeeper Marie Dénarnaud helps him.
Sauniere and Marie digging in the Rennes-le-Chateau Graveyard
Sauniere is digging in the grave marked by the Marie de Nègre d'Ables's tombstone with the strange inscription
Sauniere with his basket of rocks collected from the Couleurs River
Sauniere allegedly collected rocks in a wicker basket, from the Couleurs River, to build his Grotto in the Rennes-le-Chateau Church Garden. However, no similar rocks that I could find remain by the Couleurs River and they would be far to heavy to be carried in a simple wicker basket, or for one man to carry some of the larger ones. In reality, they were probably delivered to the village by horse, or donkey, and cart.
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