Cathar Country – Strange Developments at Rennes-le-Château

When Bérenger Saunière, parish priest of Rennes-le-Château discovered some ancient documents in a hollow pillar supporting the altar in the village church, one of the documents contained a mysterious reference to a famous artist – Nicolas Poussin.

Poussin lived mainly in France from 1594 to 1665 during the reign of Louis XIV, known as The Sun King. One of his most famous paintings which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris is called Les Bergers d’Arcadie (The Shepherds of Arcady). As you will see from the accompanying photograph it depicts four shepherds in classical dress surrounding a tomb.

Although Arcady is supposed to have been located in classical Greece, the actual setting for this painting is thought to have been close to Rennes-le-Château. In the centre background to the left of the trees behind the tomb is the chateau of Blanchefort, ancestral home of the Blanchefort family which counted prominent Cathars and Templars among its members. On the horizon just to the right of the trees is the village itself – Rennes-le-Château.

Until recently the actual tomb stood just to the north of D613 road leading from Couiza to the village of Arques and one could stand in front of this low stone structure and see the actual view which Poussin painted. Unfortunately the owner of the land has now destroyed the tomb because of the large number of people who invaded his domaine to photograph and even dig around the location. However it is still marked on the IGN map 2347OT as pierre dressée (shaped stone).

The other interesting thing about the painting is that two of the shepherds are indicating the enigmatic message Et in Arcadia Ego (Latin for “And in Arcady I…”) Nobody has been able to authoritatively decipher this incomplete message though there has been much correspondence about it.

However it is recorded that the painting was thought to have been sufficiently important at the time for the Sun King to have purchased it and kept it in his private apartments where nobody but a limited number of his personal staff and special visitors might have seen it.

Why was Poussin painting in the Rennes-le-Château area four hundred years ago? Did his painting have another purpose than to merely tell the story of four shepherds gathered round a tomb? Was he sending a secret message about something which had been found in the area? If so, what was it? So far nobody has unravelled that message.


I will continue to tell you about the mysteries of this area later in 2012 when my new novel The Templar Legacy is released. Next week I will start to tell you about Dubrovnik in the former Yugoslavia where Dancing with Spies is set.


2 thoughts on “Cathar Country – Strange Developments at Rennes-le-Château

  1. You are, with due respect, repeating everything that has already been said and written about RLC. Concerning the Latin phrase, substitute the Greek D for the Latin D, in thre phrase – remembering, of course, that unlike letters of the Latin A;phabet, letters of the Greek alphabet have names. Sir, RLC never had a mystery of its own but, it is associated with one. RLC was seclected as a place for ciphered documents, and drawings, to be hidden, because of its name – and that is all. The answer to the mystery, and mystery there is, is to be found within the ruin of the cathedral at Alet Les Bains, 8 miles from RLC – hence the Greek D, DELTA which, with respect to the drawing showing PRAE CUM which means before – with, D’ALET. People who say therre is no mystery are wrong and do not know what they are talking about and people who say it has to do with the Priory of Sion also do not know what thery are talking about. Finally, neither Jesus nor Mary Magdalene are implicated, in any way.
    Lionel French.

    1. I was very interested in your comment received on 2nd January. However it raises more questions than it answers, viz :-
      1. Which is the mystery you are talking about?
      2. What is significant about the name of Rennes-le-Chateau which led the coded documents to be hidden there?
      3. You talk about the answer to the mystery being found in the cathedral in Alet Les Bains. Can you provide more information? I intend to visit the area again in the spring and will explore the village of Alet when I am there.
      4. What is the authority for the statements contained in your comment.
      I am very interested in your comments some of which are new to me and I hope you are willing to provide more information.
      Mike Hillier

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