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The Rennes-le-Chateau Museum

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Rennes-le-Chateau CemeteryRennes-le-Chateau Title Bar

Cemetery Entrance in the Church Garden

Image showing the position of the Cemetery Entrance in the Church Garden

Rennes-le-Chateau Church Cemetery Entrance

Cemetery Entrance

The wrought iron gates seen in the above image were installed in 1884 by Charles Dénarnaud, Marie's father. The gates weighed 214 kilos and cost 220.80Fr. At the same time wrought iron railings were made to surround the gardens at a total cost of 937.38Fr. (I assume this price included the iron railings installed around all of Sauniere's gardens.)

Saunière also makes additions to the cemetery and the church, adding a sacristy and a secret room.

The Rennes-le-Chateau Church, Cemetery and Bell Tower

In the past the cemetery and its boundary walls were in a bad state:

From a report of 1806 about the cemetery that adjoins the parish church:

"already in 1806 it left much to be desired, for every day you see animals grazing there, due to the collapsed wall and because there is no gate."

The cemetery seems to have remained in the state described above for some time but in 1831 a plan seems to have been drawn up to rectify this:

A report from the parish register:

The cemetery "will be enclosed by four walls with a lockable door and with a stone cross on a plinth and two steps in the middle of the cemetery, but there are no paths."

It could be this cross that was later placed on Saunière's grave in 1917 or later. Carved on this stone cross is INRI with the 'N' reversed.

Saunière's Grave and the Stone Cross on a Plinth

Saunière's Grave and the Stone Cross on a Plinth - Headstone is not original, but added some years later

Strangely the image seen on Saunière's headstone is not that of Sauniere's but his brother Alfred?

Abbé Alfred Saunière 1855-1905

l'Abbé Alfred Saunière 1855-1905

Read an article about this here: Saunière's Tombstone

 

Close-up of the Skull and the Cross detail above the Cemetery Gate Entrance

Close-up of the Skull and the Cross detail above the Cemetery Gate Entrance

In 1892 Saunière reorganized the cemetery and constructed a small building next to the cemetery entrance over a large square cistern, which he previously had installed. This building would become the Reposoir, a viewing room where the deceased were laid out to rest in a coffin before the burial took place. Although Saunière would use this as his temporary office and library until the Tour Magdala is built some years later.

Sauniere's Reposoir next to the Cemetery entrance    Repository Water Pump

Sauniere's Reposoir next to the Cemetery entrance and the Water Pump from inside

In July 1895 July Saunière files a complaint with the local Gendarmerie against the violation of his property which occurred when a fire started in a barn near to the church. The fireman are called, but when they arrive and run out of water, they are told that there is water in an underground cistern beneath the building by the graveyard entrance. As Saunière is absent, the firemen have no option to break down the door to gain access. The villagers are, to say the least, unable to comprehend Saunière's strange reaction. However Saunière soon withdrew his complaint, probably when he had calmed down. Another story has Saunière present but refusing the firemen entry, forcing them to break their way in through the door. The water pipe/pump can still be seen in this room, or at least what remains of it. I saw inside the cistern in 2007 and it was bone dry.

Rennes-le-Chateau postcard

One of Sauniere's 33 Rennes-le-Chateau Postcards showing the Repository

The complete set of Sauniere's 33 Rennes-le-Chateau Postcards are available to purchase from this website. Details and ordering information here: 33 Cartes Postale l’Abbé Saunière

Old Photographs of the Graveyard

Though the photographs below are not good quality, they do go to show what the graveyard looked like in the old days, some years after Marie Dénarnaud death.

Noel Corbu Grave 

Images of Noel Corbu's Grave

Old Photographs of the Graveyard 1  Old Photographs of the Graveyard 2

Old Photographs of the Graveyard 3  Old Photographs of the Graveyard 4

Old Photographs of the Graveyard 5  Old Photographs of the Graveyard 6

Grave Entrance

Old Photographs of the Graveyard 7  Old Photographs of the Graveyard 8

The photograph bottom right, though bad quality, shows the white line of bricks that some say denotes a royal person is buried in the church crypt. (If a crypt exists)

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The Complete set of l’Abbé Saunière's 33 Postcards

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