The DaVinci Decode
April 7, 2012 8:34 AM   Subscribe

The History of a Mystery is a 1996 BBC Timewatch Documentary about Rennes-le-Château and its 19th-century priest, Bérenger Saunière.

From Wikipedia: "The entire area around Rennes-le-Château became the focus of sensational claims during the 1950s and 1960s involving Blanche of Castile, the Merovingians, the Knights Templar, the Cathars, the treasures of the Temple of Solomon that was the booty of the Visigoths that included the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah (the seven-branched candlestick from the Temple of Jerusalem). From the 1970s onwards claims have extended to the Priory of Sion, the Rex Deus, the Holy Grail, ley lines, sacred geometry alignments, the remains of Jesus Christ, alleged references to Mary Magdalene settling in the south of France, and even Flying saucers. Well-known French authors like Jules Verne[29] and Maurice Leblanc[30] are suspected of leaving clues in their novels about their knowledge of the 'mystery' of Rennes-le-Château."

From Youtube: "Taking the claims of the writers of one of these books at face value at first, the programme then very carefully deconstructs the story, revealing it to be..."
posted by marienbad (7 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
One of the more disappointing discoveries about Rennes-le-Château is that the 'creepy statues' in the chapel were simply ordered from a catalog, and very unlikely to be specially made to encode any kind of ancient secret. Between that, and the room-o-swag on display in his former quarters, I think we can conclude that Victorian Bad Taste was among Father Saunière's sins.

I visited the chapel a couple of years ago. It's still a working church--on the bulletin board in the back, along with the sort of workaday church notices you'd see anywhere, there was a notice for visitors, asking people to respect the space, and, oh by the way, "the real treasure is inside you". I thought that was a nice touch.
posted by gimonca at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Counting to the Eschaton....thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute..."
posted by Kitteh at 9:08 AM on April 7, 2012

"revealing it to be..."

... a gigantic literary joke.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2012

Wanna learn more about this stuff than anyone in their right mind should know? Play Gabriel Knight 3.
posted by dortmunder at 10:18 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was waiting for the involvement of Ragged Robin, King Mob, and the rest of that cell of the Inivisibles.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:55 AM on April 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

For further reading on the whole crackpot conspiracy theory, I recommend Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail.

From Wikipedia:

It is a gonzo-esque quest to find the Holy Grail by punk rock legend Rat Scabies, the one-time drummer of The Damned, with whom Dawes strikes up a friendship when the two become neighbours in the London suburb of Brentford.

The book, which has been described as "The Da Vinci Code gets the punk rock treatment" (The Bookseller), begins with Scabies introducing Dawes to the alleged mystery of Rennes-le-Château, a remote French village associated with all manner of esoteric conspiracy theories. Scabies and Dawes make several trips to Rennes-le-Château and also visit a number of other places said to be linked to the Holy Grail, including Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. The book is an often hilarious account of the pair’s adventures - they even manage to wangle themselves an invitation to a Knights Templar initiation ceremony - and its supporting cast of characters includes Henry Lincoln (the author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail) and a CIA operative, plus assorted treasure hunters, occultists, alien channelers, reincarnated medieval heretics, and more members of secret societies than you can shake a stick at. It also has a rather useful set of instructions for building your own Ark Of The Covenant.

posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:12 AM on April 7, 2012

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