Photo by Sacred Mystery Tours
This has nothing at all seriously to do with Freemasonry, but the subjects occasionally cross each other's paths, especially in conspiracy minded publications. Plus, Alice and I were compelled to write about it in The Templar Code For Dummies...
Photo by DR
Word has come this morning from the French mountain village of Rennes-le-Château that several important artifacts in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene were partially demolished on Sunday by a woman armed with an axe.
Johan Netchacovitch, editor-in-Chief of the Gazette de Rennes-le-Château, reports that the church was attacked on April 23rd, which was the national election day across France. The woman, said to be in her twenties, reportedly inquired at the town's tourism office at 9:00 AM about the church's opening time and spoke partially in what one witness described as 'Arabic.' She then entered the church around 11:15 with an axe and quickly attacked several well known items. The head and arms were knocked off of the holy water font statue of the demon Asmodeus.
Photo by DRThe head of Mary Magdalene in a bas-relief sculpture beneath the high altar was also chopped out before the woman was stopped by a church visitor. The police soon arrived, along with the Mayor and another town official, and the unidentified woman was taken into custody.
Under questioning, the woman was calm, and was reported to have said, "Today is a presidential election here, while in Syria, the West bombs and kills children. You are all disbelievers! My husband is over there." The French news site Ladepeche.fr reports that she left a Quran beneath the Asmodeus statue with 'jihadist' remarks highlighted, and shouted, "You are all the unbelievers! I'm home, you're not home!"
Her car, registered in Dordogne, was searched and turned up a gasoline can and wires, with no sign of any detonating device. The woman was subsequently released and hospitalized for undisclosed reasons. She is working with an attorney. She is reported to live in the Ariège region of Occitane and works in Toulouse. Rennes-le-Château is in the Pyrenees mountains, near the town of Carcassonne, and the remote village would have been about a 90-minute drive for her.
Police sealed the church on Sunday, but it was reopened to visitors by Monday morning. Signs have been placed to explain the damage.
The strange little church was originally consecrated in 1059, and dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Despite many provable hoaxes involved in its recent history, most promulgated by the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (and later Da Vinci Code fever), it does indeed have numerous decorative oddities inside. Most were installed between 1901 and 1905 by Father Bérenger Sauniére, including the enigmatic demon that greets visitors at the church entrance.
The Asmodeus sculpture is a controversial one, and has been attacked more than once before. In 1995, almost the same damage was inflicted as this time, and its glass eyes have been repeatedly stolen. It is a demonic figure who appears in several Talmudic legends throughout the Book of Tobias (or Tobit), including the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon, in which Solomon tricks him into helping build the Temple. Tobit is an Old Testament Hebrew Deuterocanonical book that was included in the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Bible, but not in the accepted Hebrew canon. It is one of the books of the Apocrypha, and not found in most Protestant Bibles.
While the statue's seemingly bizarre placement in the Magdalene church has been strongly condemned by many from a religious point of view, some historians (and us) have concluded it was probably placed as a symbolic political swipe against the French Republic at the time, while the baptismal font directly across from it represented the good, pious, and virtuous French monarchy. Sauniére was a passionate monarchist, which was pro-Catholic, and he was eventually caught by Church authorities raising substantial amounts of money by selling masses. That was most probably the lucrative source of the money he used for construction projects, and NOT buried treasure or blackmail against the Vatican, as has been alleged by conspiracy lovers (who will no doubt attempt to pile on with comments here now).
(Photos of damage are from the Gazette de Rennes-le-Château website credited to 'DR,' and the larger photo at the top is from the Sacred Mystery Tours website.)