The case of the devil
Part 5: Apparitions of the devil
cultures are based on opposites: good versus bad; God versus the Devil.
It is believed that the message for Mankind is to have a system of checks
and balances in place, whereby both will be in harmony, with order (good)
controlling chaos (bad).
In Christian mythology, we should note that the balance between good and evil is expressed with either St George or St Michael controlling the dragon. At all times do we need to note that the dragon or the devil is never killed – he is merely subdued.
Lots of attention has been given to the apparition of the Virgin Mary. It would seem that of the Christian pantheon, she is the only one who is able to manifest herself in this physical realm. Though it is true that in the past few centuries, there have been many claimed apparitions of the Virgin Mary, it should be added that other saints have appeared to many also – though apparitions of God or Jesus are rare to non-existent, specifically when one removes the frivolous claims that some people are prone to make.
The Virgin Mary appears in Lourdes
of the first acts Saunière performed was the installation of a statue
of the Virgin Mary of Lourdes. This was after the appearance of the Virgin
to Bernadette Soubirous, her sister Marie and another friend on Thursday,
February, 1858. While Marie and her friend crossed the river to search the
other side, Bernadette stayed on dry land. While searching for wood she
heard a loud noise like the sound of a storm coming from a nearby grotto
known as Massabielle. At the mouth of the grotto was a rosebush which was
moving as if it were windy, which it was not. From the interior of the grotto
she saw a golden-coloured cloud, and soon after a Lady, young and beautiful
who came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening above the rosebush.
The Lady smiled at Bernadette and motioned for her to advance.
Bernadette experienced eighteen visitations from Mary over a six month period never knowing who the Lady was until the last apparition. During the apparitions, Mary instructed Bernadette to dig a hole in the ground and drink and bathe in it. The hole later turned into a spring of water which Mary promised would be a healing spring for all who came to use its waters.
The apparitions were declared authentic in 1862 and Lourdes rapidly became one of the world's major pilgrimage sites. Bernadette returned to a life of obscurity and became one of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Nevers and died in 1879, after a long and painful illness.
Saunière’s mission 1891
It was on June 21, 1891, that Saunière staged a procession through the village with a statue of the Virgin of Lourdes, which he subsequently installed on the Visigothic pillar in the garden of the church. Many have noted that this installation was the beginning of a series of restoration works, and the importance of this procession should therefore not be underestimated – specifically not as the date coincides with the summer solstice. Furthermore, the addition of the inscription “Mission 1891” to the base of the pillar suggests that Saunière indeed considered that his “mission” had begun in 1891, most likely with this procession.
Mary versus the devil
note that the Virgin Mary was installed in the garden of the church, which
means that anyone approaching the church would see her before entering the
church – her procession had been the start of the renovation, so it
is symbolic to have her welcome the visitor. Inside the church, the visitor
is welcomed by the devil – Asmodeus. We thus have an immediate balance
of good vs. evil. This balance might not seem to be obvious, but this is
because of a series of misconceptions or assumptions that has plagued our
understanding of such phenomena.
First, we need to note that the being inside the church is a demon – identity left unspecified by Saunière. It could be Asmodeus, but it could also be any other evil incarnation.
A misconception is that only the Virgin Mary appears. There have been many apparitions, from ghosts to enigmatic creatures that have sometimes been identified – sometimes overzealously – as “the devil”. For our research, we will limit ourselves to the body of Christian teachings.
The apparitions of Satan
into apparitions of “the devil” – general – will
be an arduous and overall fruitless task. Apparitions of Satan, however,
are not. We note that in the Bible, Satan has an important position: he
is there in the Garden of Eden to tempt – successfully – Adam
and Eve. His appearance here is normally described as an “apparition”.
His next major “apparition” is to Jesus. This apparition is
important, as it is here that we see the contrast between the Virgin Mary
– the mother of Jesus, creating the Son of the Good God – and
Satan, who will tempt to divert Jesus from his mission. We can only wonder
whether Saunière played with the notion of Jesus’ mission on
Earth and applied it to his own “mission”, as can be seen in
If this is the case, then Saunière seems to have identified the devil with Satan. Might we suspect that those with Masonic interests – or who suspected Saunière to have primary allegiance to Freemasonry – overzealously identified this creature with Asmodeus, because of his alliance with the Temple of Solomon? The question is moot, as we note that Saunière could easily have infused more than one meaning in this creature – if so, he would definitely have preferred not to name the individual, so that various scenarios could be based on this enigmatic individual.
Jesus and the Devil
appears to Jesus on numerous occasions, the most famous being his triple
temptation while in the desert. This appears in Mark, chapter 1, where it
is made clear that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, Jesus disappears
into the desert – the wilderness. We note that in Saunière’s
church, the role between the devil and the holy water is very pronounced.
We can also wonder whether the temptation of Jesus would have been successful
if he had not been baptised before. This explains the depiction of the devil
in the church of Montréal (Aude), where the devil is indeed conquered
by the water of baptism. “By this sign you will conquer him…”
“And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” (Mark 1:13) Mark continues that immediately upon his return, John the Baptist is arrested, and Jesus’ mission begins.
The first temptation of Satan is in the Garden of Eden. There, we note that the Bible only speaks of “the serpent” and though it is said that Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat the apples, in the Bible itself, it merely states they were not allowed from the tree in the middle of the garden; its nature or its fruit remains unidentified, though we do know that its food is “good” and creates insight, specifically opens their minds to their state. God soon finds out they are aware of their nakedness, and thus forces Eve to beget children, and casts the serpent in the role of “evil doer”. Christian Dogma calls the “The Fall” or the expulsion from paradise, and identifies the role of the serpent with that of Satan – or Lucifer.
note that the devil has so far made his appearance at two of the most crucial
points in the Bible: Eden, where he is responsible for Mankind’s “understanding
of our state”, and Jesus, where he unsuccessfully tries to distract
Jesus from his mission. We note that the scenery is also inverted: the lovely
Garden of Eden vs. “the wilderness”.
Its final appearance is in Revelations, the last book of the Bible, where he is the subject of a prophecy.
the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,
which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his
angels were cast out with him.” (Revelations 12:9)
This is a reiteration of the current situation: how God has cast out the serpent that fouled his plan for Mankind and made Mankind what it currently is. We also note that it is specified that Satan was cast out “into the Earth”, which implies our planet.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. […] And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.” (Revelations 20:1-3,7)
events prophesized in Revelations are the outcome of the events begun in
Genesis and continued by Jesus; it is, so to speak, the resolution of the
stalemate, where Good finally conquers Evil. “By this sign you will
We need to note that for every visitor who enters the church, that same person will leave the church: thus we have once again the devil who at the end – of the church service – is conquered, and we return to the outside world, where we see the Virgin Mary. Now, she is the herald of the “Final Judgment”, when God, from his throne, will cast evil aside. Here, we have yet another inversion: entering versus exiting. But whereas we know that Saunière’s mission began in 1891, how can we be sure whether or not he ever fulfilled his?