Abbé Saunière's Bookmark (Bookplate)
I was interested in Sauniere's Bookplate as the Demon pictured bears a similar pose to that of the Demon he placed in his church. Also anything owned by Saunière may give an insight as to what he was up to, or perhaps even a clue to help solve the mystery.
Sauniere's Bookplate seen here is often labeled as alchemical in design. It used to be on display in the Sauniere museum in Rennes-le-Chateau, along with many other objects once owned and used by Berenger Sauniere in his role as priest of the Mary Magdalene church and also in his private life and some objects that that are not even his.
The book plate is made up of two images pasted onto a background.
Image 1 - Labeled 'ASMODEE or Asmodeus in english. It portrays a male angel holding a Devil or Demon in chains. The Demon's posture is familiar to Sauniere's church Demon.
The Angel and Demon statue from Sauniere's Church
Asmodeus is said to be the guardian of the Treasure of Solomon.
Image 2 - Consisting of 3 circles, one of which has a cross fixed to it, two triangles forming a Solomon seal design and a cherub in each corner.
The large outer circle contains the latin inscription:
'Trial Sunt Mirabilia: Deus et Homo; Mater et Virgo; Trinus et Unus.'
Of which the English translation is:
'Three are the Marvels: God and Man; the Mother and the Virgin; the Three and the One.'
The middle circle has a simple cross joined to its top and a small circle with a dot at its centre.
The Latin inscription reads: 'Centrum In Trigono Centri'
The English translation is: 'The Centre in the Triangle of the Centre.'
Two triangles, one black and one right, form a Solomon Seal Design. The initials 'B' an 'S' have been placed in the white triangle. As this thought to be was Sauniere's bookplate, it was assumed that the 'B S' stood for the initials of his name, Berenger Sauniere.
"This shape can be thought to represent the World-Mountain reaching up to Heaven, with the tomb of Cain in its bowels, reaching down into the centre of the Earth. And on this alchemical seal, at the exact point in the bowels of the symbolic “mountain” where you would expect to find the sacred tomb, the astrological sign of the Sun has been drawn in, like the Black Sun in the centre of the Earth, and the “hidden sun” which lights the tomb of Osiris/Cain. Placed over this is an inverted symbol of Venus, the cross surmounted by a circle. In this version, the cross is pointing upward, near the top of the hexagram, as if it is meant to represent the cavalry cross of Golgotha where Christ was crucified, which in apocryphal legend was placed just above the Jewish Cave of Treasures."
There are four cherubs, one placed in each corner, are not identical and the cherub in the top left corner looks more menacing than the others. (Seen at the bottom in the image below.)
Meaning of Cherub from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
In Philology: The word cherub (cherubim is the Hebrew masculine plural) is a word borrowed from the Assyrian kirubu, from karâbu, "to be near", hence it means near ones, familiars, personal servants, bodyguards, courtiers. It was commonly used of those heavenly spirits, who closely surrounded the Majesty of God and paid Him intimate service. Hence it came to mean as much as "Angelic Spirit".
In Art: Cherub and Cherubim are most frequently referred to in the Bible to designate sculptured, engraved, and embroidered figures used in the furniture and ornamentation of the Jewish Sanctuary.
The final part of the bookplate design is the label.
GRAVURE TIREE D'UN LIVRE DE L' ABBE SAUNIERE
Engraving taken from a book of the priest Sauniere.
This tells us that the label was written not by Sauniere but a museum official.
The Alchemical Door, or the Magical Door, is a monument built between 1655 and the 1680 by Massimiliano Palombara marquis of Pietraforte (1614-1680) in his residence, Palombara villa. The Alchemical Door is the only survivor of the five doors of Palombara villa. On the arc of the lost door on the opposite side was an inscription dates it to 1680. It matches the symbol in the book opposite.
The Alchemical Door, or the Magical Door
The door frame is covered in symbols.
So what we have here is what looks like a photocopy or a print-out of a design from a book not owned by Sauniere, used no doubt because of the 'B S' matching Sauniere's initials. This design was added to another picture, the angel with the demon, which is an engraving from one of Sauniere's books, presumably because it was similar to the Demon statue Sauniere placed in his church. There is no label saying it was used by Sauniere as his bookplate because it wasn't. The label simply states, misguidedly, that the engraving of the Asmodeus image was taken from one of Sauniere's books. Understandably people have thought the whole design was Sauniere's and that he used it as his bookplate. In fact these two images were pasted together in 1993 by the people who set up the museum as an extra exhibit, in an attempt I suppose to make the museum seem more interesting. I have had this verified by someone at Rennes-le-Chateau and by Antoine Captier who owns some of Sauniere's possessions which are on display in the museum and so something of an expert in the matter.
In conclusion, unfortunately, this bookplate cannot be used as a device in solving Sauniere's Rennes-le-Château Mystery. But it is possible Sauniere got the idea of the design for his Demon from the 'Asmodee' engraving.
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