The – a – Tomb of Christ?
What’s in a name
Bérenger Saunière had the ingenious idea to identify a site
on the model as the “Tomb of Christ”, no doubt, he was unaware
of the future controversy he would create (if only because in all likelihood,
the model was not supposed to become a matter of public knowledge).
As mentioned, Saunière introduced an “error” into the model, by separating out the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and the Tomb of Christ. In the Bible, the latter was buried into the tomb of the former. Other than that, Saunière has added the somewhat enigmatic title of “Original State” to the model. What he means by this, remains somewhat unclear, but it might merely be window-dressing, so that people did not stumble over the obvious error on the model itself.
In matters such as this, people often tend to go for a literal interpretation, and in this case, it would mean that Christ himself is buried here – in Perillos. But that in itself is a theological anomaly: if there is a tomb – or rather, body – of Jesus Christ, than it is not the Tomb of Christ, but the Tomb of Jesus. Christ is specifically linked with the Resurrection and if there was a body, there is by default no physical Resurrection. Full stop. Saunière, as a priest, would have known as much. So why use it? Does it, as some suggest, betray his knowledge that there was a body of Jesus after all?
the negative of the model represents a landscape, on which two interesting
“tombs” were indeed located (as was verified by work on the
ground of André Douzet), the working hypothesis is that the model’s
primary purpose was to indicate the location of these two sites to one or
more individuals, whereby the names on the model are purely window-dressing.
Still, it is clear that some features of the landscape, like the “cistern”,
were given a name as they are a clear geographical/geological items: the
Roc Redon. In short, the names of the model are a code – though one
should not see it as a great “puzzle” that needs to be decoded,
merely coded references so that the real names and locations should not
Still, it is clear that Saunière – a man known for his ingenious mind, as is on display in the church of Rennes-le-Château – used some “spiel”: a model in French is known as a “maquette”, which is, when spoken, the same as “ma quête”, or my quest… as in the Quest for the Holy Grail. This, of course, is of interest when we note that the name of Joseph of Arimathea has been used to identify one of the two locations. As – alas – the entire Rennes community has an obsession with Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, they might have overlooked a potentially more significant hint. Again, this would mean we are taking things quite literally, and perhaps we shouldn’t do this at all.
“Found a tomb”
Until relatively recently, the subject of Saunière and his involvement with secret societies was a subject of much controversy. Most researchers scorned the suggestion. Hence, new evidence unearthed by André Douzet that Saunière attended meetings of Martinist Lodges in Lyon were in some quarters rejected as a fraud. But with the announcement that Saunière possessed Masonic regalia, the laughter stopped – even more so when the evidence showed that he was apparently a high-ranking Freemason. At present, it remains an enigma where precisely he was “lodged” – the Lyon document merely showing that he was a visitor – but if we were to look anywhere, I would suggest the likeliest candidates would be Perpignan or Narbonne. But where he was a member is, nevertheless, of no real importance.
The Masonic material recovered from
Saunière’s estate reveals that he at least had attained the
degree of the Rosy Cross. The degree is obviously a reference to the Rosicrucians,
a secret society that existed – in the open – from the 17th
The order is all about the discovery of the Tomb of one Christian Rosenkreutz. The name is obviously a reference to Christ, but, of course, the “Tomb of Christ-ian Rosenkreutz” might also have something to do with the choice of name for the model.
What is little known, is that whenever a new Rosicrucian Lodge was created, it was announced as the discovery of a new tomb. We can, of course, only wonder whether Saunière was using this symbolism and decided to incorporate this into his model – as an additional level of “spiel”.
A secret tomb
Tombs are very important in many secret societies. Freemasonry, of course, has rituals that are akin to a ritual death and rebirth. As just mentioned, so do the Rosicrucians. But when we peel back the layers of time, it becomes apparent that there are other examples; and some are more intriguing than others.
An interesting account was passed on by the Greek historian Herodotus: “Here too, at Sais [Egypt], is the tomb of one who[se] name I prefer not to mention in such a connection; it stands behind the shrine and occupies the whole length of the wall. Great stone obelisks stand in the enclosure and there is a stone-bordered lake near by… It is on this lake that the Egyptians act by night in what they call their mysteries, the Passion of that being whose name I will not speak. All the details of the performance are known to be, but – I will say no more.”
The Tomb of Osiris
have concluded that this rather enigmatic paragraph strongly suggests that
Herodotus had been initiated into the mysteries of Osiris, and that he could
not tell all, as he had taken the oath of secrecy – not to divulge
the material that was available to the initiates of the cult only.
They also concluded that the “tomb of one whose name I prefer not to mention” is none other than the Tomb of Osiris. His tomb, of course, was of paramount importance to the ancient Egyptians. The story of Osiris and Isis gained importance and fame as Egypt’s dynastic rule continued, and by the time of the Greeks and Romans – i.e. Herodotus’ timeframe – they had largely eclipsed all other Egyptian cults.
The story of Osiris is complex, but
the main components are his divine rule, followed by his betrayal and death,
followed by a dramatic search by his consort Isis to reassemble his scattered
body parts, followed by magical rituals that created a divine child, Horus,
and allowed Osiris’ passage to the Afterworld, of which he became
It is clear that the story has many correspondences with the story of Jesus – whereby the modern reinterpretation of the role of Mary Magdalene in the Passion largely maps onto that of Isis. (And the modern fascination with this saint is clearly a drive by some to make the parallel between the Egyptian story and Christian mythology even more apparent.)
Noting that the story of “Osiris the Resurrected” was a few millennia older than the story of “Jesus the Resurrected”, one can merely wonder whether Saunière was aware of such Egyptian mythology – easily available at that time, if only because various Greek writers had written on the subject (Herodotus being one example) – and whether the reference to “Original State” would hence be a reference to the fact that the Tomb of Christ was not the first sacred tomb that was the cornerstone of a religion…but that in origin, this was the Tomb of Osiris.
It is therefore of interest to note that Osiris is never too far from the story of Rennes-le-Château. The most direct link actually came from Jean Robin, who in a novel argued that some decades ago, a military expedition had occurred, whereby the Phallus of Osiris had been removed from a location near or in Rennes-le-Château. If taken literally – with all the apparent dangers – we should note that like the Tomb of Christ, in the story of Osiris, there is no phallus; in the story, it is said that the Phallus of Osiris was eaten by fish, when cast adrift on the waters of the River Nile. At the same time, let us note that Jean Robin was a very inspired writer, a great scholar of the esoteric scene, and a man who did not write without a reason or a clear thought process. Alas, few Rennes researchers have queried the good author as to why he went for a rather “fanciful” suggestion of the Phallus of Osiris as the key icon of his novel, written now almost thirty years ago. Perhaps it was because the good man saw – somewhere in the church of Rennes-le-Château – a few Egyptian hieroglyphs that the ordinary visitor does not get to see? One, of course, cannot further comment or speculate on such matters.
In initiatory writings (some of whom
used Herodotus as source material), it was often noted that this Tomb of
Osiris was reached via a secret passage between the two paws of the Great
Sphinx of Gizeh, from where the initiate was lead into a subterranean labyrinth,
which somehow made its way to the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid.
No remains or indications of the existence of this route have been found,
though, of course, this has not stopped speculation, with many – Robert
Bauval, Graham Hancock, John Anthony West and Robert Schoch being paramount
– trying to find evidence, and speculate, about the possibility of
such a passage, as well as assuming the age of the Sphinx is far older than
All might be missing a more important discovery, one which occurred about a decade ago. When Zahi Hawass announced he had found “the” Tomb of Osiris, what he meant, was that he had found “a” Tomb of Osiris. Such structures are well-known, present in various locations, but it is noteworthy that he had identified such a site on the Gizeh plateau. The important question is whether this structure, in Greek-Roman times, might have been used to perform initiation ceremonies into the Osirian mysteries – in the shadows of the Great Pyramids.
The overall conclusion that we should draw, however, is that in Greek-Roman times, subterranean networks were used for initiatory purposes, whereby a subterranean tomb was of paramount importance. Examples exist in Egypt, Greece, but the installation of St Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland also clearly belongs to this category.
Perillos, a sacred landscape?
are no pyramids in Perillos. But a quick familiarisation with the landscape
– including the alignments of the church, the unique feature that
is the Plateau of Salveterra, the conical appearance of the hill on top
of which Perillos was constructed, etc. – indicates that if our distant
forefathers did not use this as a sacred landscape, then at the very least,
it had all the tell-tale items that we know our ancestors used elsewhere
in sanctifying the landscape.
Secondly, we know that this was a sacred landscape, for our earliest ancestors preferred to be buried here – a passion that continued over – literally – tens of thousands of years. Let us, of course, note that death and the afterlife were of paramount importance to the Osirian mysteries. Again, whether coincidence or design…
Thirdly, we know that along the Mediterranean coastline, there were ancient labyrinthine structure – the most famous examples near Naples (Cumae and Baia), where there was a Greek colony. But we note that the region around Perpignan was a former Greek colony too. It was in Roman times that such sanctuaries were closed on the Emperor’s orders, and their location largely forgotten. The complex of Baia was, for example, only rediscovered in the early 1960s.
Furthermore, let us note that Ramon de Perillos travelled to Ireland, to visit what was likely the only surviving and operating such sanctuary, St Patrick’s Purgatory, which had survived the Roman abolition of these rituals – as Ireland had never been conquered by the Roman Empire.
A sacred and royal tomb
Tomb of Osiris was both sacred and royal: he was the king of Egypt and a
god. He was the ruler of the afterworld and definitely a “Christ”
– both in the sense of Anointed and Resurrected. It is therefore remarkable
that the notion of a sacred and royal tomb is known to be an important ingredient
in the story of Perillos, for it is precisely this that is written in the
17th century Courtade register, a document that “merely” lists
the ownership of all plots of land.
Again, an all too unintelligent interpretation of this brief mention might suggest to some that we should focus on its occupant. But what if the location is indeed “just” a sacred and royal tomb – empty – as most if not all of the Tomb of Osiris were supposed to be, seeing they were there to welcome the body of the initiate for his initiation? Again, for the average researcher, this notion is difficult to entertain, as it does not involve a large treasure, a saintly body, or a major revelation. But there is a difference between history and fantasy.
brings us to the final dimension of this puzzle. In recent years, the research
by the team of Isaac ben Jacob has made it apparent that within the story
of Rennes-le-Château, great emphasis should be placed on the role
of the penitentiary organisations, an underground network that was sponsoring
Saunière (or which at least allowed him to make his money) and which
had an obsession with death and certain – magical – rituals
that had to be performed on the deceased. Most of these rituals were connected
with how the soul of the deceased would experience the afterlife, and one
can clearly see that we are in the same bailiwick as the Egyptian interest
in Osiris – though both should be seen as examples of a larger, complex
issue, rather than see the penitent movements as somehow modern inheritors
of the cult of Osiris.
As such, we are perhaps not too far from the type of rituals that Isis performed on her dead husband either. And we might perhaps not be too far from the true importance of these two locations in Perillos either. For if there was a tomb that could be used in initiatory experiences, involving the dead, then it is clear that this would be of great importance to organisations that tried to offer precisely such an experience to their members. The initiated would not only become like Christ – Risen – but would also experience (in life) the Holy Grail: the drinking of the Cup of Remembering.