The Tour Magdala was the Abbé Saunière's library and no doubt a place where he could sit in private and contemplate the things he had done in his past and things he planned to do in the future.
He soon amassed a great number of books, postcards and postage stamps and magazines. The stamps and postcards were stored below his library in a room whose walls were covered in specially designed shelves to hold his collection. The shelves have since been removed. The entrance to this room is through the doorway seen at the end of the path on the left in the above photograph.
Abbé Saunière's Postcard Shelves
Sauniere hired Henri Baret a librarian from Castelnaudary to organise his book collection. It seems to have been a big job as Baret spent three months completing the task.
Sauniere also hired a bookbinder to repair and recover some of his books.
Unfortunately no receipts or records survive of the collections of books and stamps he amassed and most were even sold or given away by Marie Dénarnaud after Saunière’s death, or they just disappeared. Because of this we know very little of their content, but what little we do know it seems many dealt with religion in some form or another.
In 1950 some light was shed on the content of collection when the Derain-Raclet bookshop in Lyon went bankrupt and three books were discovered marked with ‘François Bérenger Saunière, Priest at: Aude, town of Rennes.’ Their titles were:
The Prophecy of the Popes allotted to St. Malachy’ by Abbé Joseph Maitre
History of the Large Forests of Gaule and Old France’ by L.F. Alfred Maury
Celtic Monuments, or Research on the Worship of the Stones, Preceded by a note on the Celts and Druids, and followed Celtic etymologies by Mr. Camby.
Hardly a riveting collection of subjects, but then Dan Brown had not been born yet.
It is rumoured that around 1966 the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers purchased many of Sauniere's books. With Maria Dénarnaud finances in a desperate situation by this time, selling the books would bring her some much needed cash, so this story seems plausible enough.
But as ever in the Rennes-le-Chateau Mystery, nothing is so straight forward, but that is not a subject to contemplate here.
So, when one of the Abbe Saunière's books surfaces, it is always of interest to those researching Rennes le Chateau. While on a trip to Rennes-le-Chateau in 2010, I met with someone who had one of Saunière's books and he kindly invited me and some friends around to dinner where he would show it to us.
The Cover of Office de La Quinzaine de Paques, a book once owned by the Abbé Sauniere
Office de La Quinzaine de Paques
Saunière no 48
Written across the top of two facing pages are two pieces of text in black ink
It seems to read 'emplatze de cigue'
The nearest I could find to this for Google Translate to make sense of was 'emplâtre de ciguë' which translates as 'poultice of hemlock' If this is correct then it is very interesting as Hemlock can be used as a poison. What was Sauniere up to?
If anyone reading this has a better translation of the above two pieces of text, please email me so I can add it here.
Related Research Links: