Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Notre Dame du Cros

This hamlet and chapel is situated close to Caunes-Minervois, a little to the north of Carcassonne.

From Jeff and Lin

"We've stumbled across somewhere by accident, just driving around," said Jeff.  "Here's the pictures Lin took."
"I was first fascinated by this stained-glass window," said Lin, "But we can't really understand what it is about."  
The circular window is above a painting which looks like the ascension of either the Virgin Mary, or Mary Magdalene, and the window itself has a crescent moon and twelve stars in a modern design.  This seems to me to be a reference Chapter 12 in the Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible.  The first verse says;  "There appeared a great wonder in Heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."  The rest of the chapter is thought to be about Mary Magdalene and the children she had by Jesus.  I found a picture of this "Assomption", and another of a pregnant Mary being carried up to Heaven by angels.
It is in comparatively recent times that the Roman Church created the Assomption of the Virgin Mary, on the basis that she too must have been conceived without sin.  But the first picture seems to show the resplendent Magdalene with the Virgin Mary left behind on earth clutching her crucifix!
  The church, Notre Dame du Cros is 2km north-east of the Minervois town of Caunes-Minervois, which has a great abbey founded in Visigothic times.  Originally ND du Cros was a chapel near the river Cros, where pilgrims went for the miraculous cures, courtesy of the river.  Stone shelters were built about 900AD to house the statues of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John.  These shelters grew into three chapels, which were amalgamated to form today's much-renovated church - which is very beautiful, deep in its picturesque valley.

The interior is decorated with the famous pink marble from the nearby quarry.
Both Caunes and ND du Cros are just inside the Aude/Hérault border.  In Bérenger Saunière's time the bishopric of Carcassonne looked after both Rennes-le-Château and Caunes/du Cros.  The railway from Carcassonne to Caunes was built in 1887, and with trains from Couiza to Carcassonne it would have been easy for the priests of the two parishes to visit each other.

the chapel in the time of Bérenger Saunière and as it is today.  Photo by Jaap Rameijer
      It's fascinating to think that Gaudéric Mêche, who helped renovate ND du Cros, was also a benefactor of the church of St. Martin in Limoux - in which is a stained glass window showing the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene dating from the same period.  There are connections between ND de Cros and ND de Marceille at Limoux - both chapels have a Black Madonna.  And the Ave Maria logo on ND du Cros is exactly the same as the one on the foot of Bérenger's statue of the Virgin in the garden of the church at Rennes-le-Château (as seen above.)

  In the late nineteenth century, these places had priest who knew each other and liaised together.  There was a brilliant train service between ND du Cros, Carcassonne, Limoux and Couiza, from where Bérnger Saunière would have taken a cab.

  Many thanks to Jeff and Lin.


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