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3.21.2005

Priory of Sion - Protectors of Holy Grail?

The increasing attention being placed upon the bloodlines of Christ and its supposed protectors, The Priory of Sion, has been an eye-opener for me. Their is a lot of text out there that have their own version of events of what happened. Specifically, the work of Dan Brown and his book, The Da Vinci Code, take on a much more Hollywood version of what has happened to the Christ bloodline. Another take is the well written book Holy Blood Holy Grail, by Lincoln, Leigh and Baigent. One article on the The Priory of Sion wrote an excellent synopsis of this book:

What Lincoln, Leigh and Baigent claim to have found is the secret that Jesus was a king in a long line of Priest kings, and that he had been married to Mary Magdalene, and produced a child, born posthumously (after his crucifixion), and that this child had been spirited away to France to be the progenitor of the kings of the Franks, the Merovingian, and that this Holy/Royal Bloodline is the real secret contained in the mysteries of the "Holy Grail" stories.

How in the world did a story about a possible hidden treasure found by an obscure priest in a remote corner of rural France transmogrify itself into THAT?! Good question.

Mssrs. Lincoln, Leigh and Baigent write in the conclusion of Holy Blood, Holy Grail,

We had not, in the beginning, set out to prove or disprove anything, least of all the conclusion to which we had been ineluctably led. We had certainly not set out to challenge some of the most basic tenets of Christianity. On the contrary, we had begun by investigating a specific mystery. We were looking for answers to certain perplexing questions, explanations for certain historical enigmas. In the process, we more or less stumbled upon something rather greater than we had initially bargained for. We were led to a startling, controversial, and seemingly preposterous conclusion. [Lincoln, Leigh, Baigent, 1982]

And THAT is the clue that is most interesting in this whole matter: "we were led..."

What were they led to?

If our hypothesis is correct, the Holy Grail would have been at least two things simultaneously. On the one hand, it would have been Jesus' bloodline and descendants - the "Sang Raal," the "Real" of "Royal" blood of which the Templars, created by the Prieure de Sion, were appointed guardians. At the same time the Holy Grail would have been, quite literally, the receptacle or vessel that received and contained Jesus' blood. In other words, it would have been the womb of the Magdalene - and by extension, the Magdalen herself. From this the cult of the Magdalen, as it was promulgated during the Middle Ages, would have arisen - and been confused with the cult of the Virgin. It can be proved, for instance, that many of the famous "Black Virgins" or "black Madonnas" were early in the Christian era shrines not to the Virgin but to the Magdalen - and they depict a mother and child. It has also been argued that the Gothic cathedrals - those majestic stone replicas of the womb dedicated to "Notre Dame" - were also, as Le Serpent rouge states, shrines to Jesus' consort rather than to his mother.

The Holy Grail, then, would have symbolized both Jesus' bloodline and the Magdalen, from whose womb that bloodline issued. But it may have been something else as well. In A.D. 70, during the great revolt in Judaea, Roman legions under Titus sacked the temple of Jerusalem. The pillaged treasure of the temple is said to have found its way eventually to the Pyrenees; and M. Plantard, in his conversation with us, stated that this treasure was in the hands of the Prieure de Sion today. But the temple of Jerusalem may have contained more than the treasure plundered by Titus' centurions. In ancient Judaism religion and politics were inseparable. The Messiah was to be a priest-king whose authority encompassed spiritual and secular domains alike. It is thus likely, indeed probable, that the temple housed official records pertaining to Israel's royal line - the equivalents of the birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other relevant data concerning any modern royal or aristocratic family. If Jesus was indeed "King of the Jews," the temple is almost certain to have contained copious information relating to him. It may even have contained his body - or at least his tomb, once his body was removed from the temporary tomb of the Gospels. [Lincoln, Leigh, Baigent, 1982]

Let's hear that sentence one more time: "We were led to a startling, controversial, and seemingly preposterous conclusion."

By WHOM were they led?

A group calling itself Le Prieure de Sion, The Priory of Sion, and its purported agent, Pierre Plantard.

...

Research began with Lincoln's preparation of a 1972 BBC documentary on a 19th century French priest, Berenger Sauniere. The cleric reputedly amassed great wealth after discovering and deciphering four parchments hidden in a hollow pillar of his church at Rennes-le-Chateau, a hilltop village in the south of France.

The authors say they have discovered those parchments, or facsimiles, still exist and disclose the existence of a secret society called the Prieure de Sion, founded in the 11th century at the start of the Crusades. Its aim was to guard the Holy Grail - according to medieval legend, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper.

The authors claim the society remains active, and that its adherents over the years included Isaac Newton, Andre Malraux, Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy and Charles de Gaulle.

According to the authors, the words "Holy Grail" are a mistranslation of early French words for "royal blood," and the true purpose of Prieure de Sion is to protect alleged royal descendants of Jesus and prepare the way for their accession to world power.

To bolster their description of the society, they provide several chapters of scholarly references from legends, romances, paintings, documents and the Bible.

All this is controversial enough, but author Leigh said it led the three to reexamine the conventional interpretations of the New Testament. That study led them to propound a "hypothesis" that:

* Jesus literally had a claim to being "king of the Jews" and was descended from the royal house of the Israelite King David.
* He married Mary Magdalene and had at least one child by her.
* He and sympathizers staged his Crucifixion and Resurrection and he survived into old age somewhere outside the Holy Land.
* Mary Magdalene and her offspring made their way to southern France - then Roman ruled Gaul.
* Jesus' bloodline mixed with that of the Franks and started the Merovingian dynasty of the early Middle Ages.
* The Merovingian line extends into the modern noble houses of Europe, so Jesus' descendants are alive today.

The book's contentions have started a religious firestorm.

"It is a sign of the degeneracy of the times that a publisher like Jonathan Cape should take this book," said Anglican Bishop Montefiore.

Montefiore catalogues what he calls "79 instances ... of gross errors, vital omissions, gravely misleading statements or the adoption of way-out hypotheses."

Another Anglican bishop, Rt. Rev. Mervyn Stockwood, was even less reserved. "Let them write a second book suggesting that Caesar married Boadicia and that the offspring is Ian Paisley," he was quoted by The Times of London as saying.

The authors say they are merely making reasonable suppositions based on careful research and new evidence. They add that serious work on medieval history has been obscured by the furor over their conclusions. [St. Petersburg Times, January 19, 1982, byline: Mark S. Smith]