The Augustinian Cannons of Notre Dame de Sion
I have mentioned before that the main premise behind Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln’s book – The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was to demonstrate the existence of a great secret, which entailed the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene continuing on through the Merovingian Kings of France and into the royal families of Europe. As we now know, Pierre Plantard in collaboration with Gerard de Sede fabricated the existence of the secret society they called the ‘Prieure de Sion’ (Priory of Sion) and led Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln along in what turned out to be a wild goose chase. In doing so, the authors themselves became unwitting partners in this misinformation spinning exercise. Laura herself gives an account of this in her series ‘The Grail Quest and The Destiny of Man’*.
However, as I have said before, this does not invalidate the considerable research that the three authors did when writing The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
and their follow-up books, some of which information I have quoted in earlier articles. As I have previously said, the authors may have unwittingly uncovered a greater mystery in the same way that the TV writers and producers of Alternative 3
did. Indeed, when looking at some of the names that Plantard and de Sede gave as Masters of the Priory of Sion, Laura noted how a number of them appeared to be people connected with alchemy, including Nicolas Flamel, Robert Fludd, Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton. In J. Valentin Andrea, you also have someone who is connected to the 17th century Rosicrucians. When you connect this finding with the part that Nicolas Poussin’s painting of the Shepherds of Arcadia plays in the mystery of Rennes-le-Château, then the Rosicrucian connection becomes even stronger. In some ways, you could argue that the fictional Priory of Sion may well be just a smokescreen for the Rosicrucians.
Although no one can discover a society going by the name of the Priory of Sion outside of Plantard and de Sede’s fabricated documentation, there was most definitely an organisation that went by the name of the Order of Sion. As Laura has noted:
“After Jerusalem fell to Godfroi de Bouillon in 1099, an abbey devoted to Notre Dame du Mont de Sion was built on the hill of Sion to the south of Jerusalem; it is referred to in later documents and figures in several views of the city. A Father Vincent, writing in 1698, (notice that this is over 500 years after) says:
“There were in Jerusalem during the Crusades… knights attached to the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion who took the name of Chevaliers de l’Order de Notre Dame de Sion
R. Rohricht, in his Regesta regni Hierosolymitani (Roll of the kings of Jerusalem), written in 1893 (over 800 years after the fact) cites two charters: one of 1116 by Arnaldus, prior of Notre Dame de Sion, and one of 1125, in which Arnaldus’s name appears with that of Hugues Payen, the first Grand Master of the Temple. The existence of the Abbey of Sion, at least until 1281, is attested to by E.-G. Rey in a paper in the proceedings of the French National Society of Antiquaries (1887), which lists the abbots who administered the abbey’s property in Palestine.
All of these “proofs” were dug up by Lincoln et al, after great exertions to discover the validity of the claims of Pierre Plantard. But, these VERY LATE documents are the ONLY historical documentation of the possible existence of a Prieure de Sion. Everything else that refers to such an organization finds its origin in those highly suspect “publications” deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale that all seem to lead back to a single source – possibly Pierre Plantard himself – and handily brought to Lincoln’s attention by Gerard de Sede.
The Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion was built on the ruins of an old Byzantine basilica, which may have dated from the fourth century and was called ‘the Mother of all Churches’. According to one chronicler, writing in 1172, it was extremely well fortified, with its own walls, towers and battlements. Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln wondered whether the occupants of the Abbey could have been the Order of Sion. They noted that the knights and monks who occupied the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, also installed by Godfroi de Bouillon, were formed into an official and duly constituted order – the ‘Order of the Holy Sepulchre’. The authors speculated that the same principle might have applied to the occupants of the Abbey. They seemed to find confirmation that this was the case in a leading 19th century expert on the subject who indicated that the Abbey was occupied by a chapter of Augustinian cannons
who were charged with serving the sanctuaries under the direction of an abbot. The community assumed the name of ‘Sainte-Marie du Mont Syon et du Saint-Esprit
’ [Holy Mary of Mount Sion and of the Holy Ghost]. The other name they took was Chevaliers de l’Order de Notre Dame de Sion [Knights of the Order of Our Lady of Sion]. What the authors could not discover though was whether or not the Order had been formed earlier or had taken its name from the place it was founded (like the Cistercian monks from Citeaux and the Carmelite friars from Mt. Carmel).
Hence, we now see a definite connection with St Augustine
, whose cannons would occupy the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion from 1100 AD onwards. As for evidence connecting the Order of Our Lady of Sion with the Priory of Sion, the authors had considered the ‘Prieure documents’ supplied by Gerard de Sede, which had implied this was the case and they themselves did find some evidence to suggest, albeit vaguely and obliquely, that this may have been the case.
It would seem that in 1070 AD, twenty nine years before the First Crusade, a band of monks, from Calabria in southern Italy, arrived in the vicinity of the Ardennes Forest, which was part of Godfroi de Bouillon’s domains. On their arrival in the Ardennes, the Calabrian monks obtained the patronage of Mathilde de Toscane, Duchesse of Lorraine and the aunt of Godfroi de Bouillon (in effect his foster mother). Mathilde gave the monks a tract of land at Orval where they established an abbey. However, they did not remain in Orval for very long. By 1108 they had mysteriously disappeared and no record of their whereabouts survives. Tradition maintains that they returned to Calabria. Interestingly, Orval by 1131 became a fiefdom of St Bernard of Clairvaux - the Cistercian Abbot who drew up the Templars’ Rule and had a close relationship with the fledgling Order.
Things then got a bit murky when the authors considered de Sede’s suggestion that one of the members of this mysterious band of monks was none other than Peter the Hermit
who in 1995 along with Pope Urban II preached the need for a crusade, a holy war, to reclaim Christ’s Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Land from the Muslim infidel. Today Peter the Hermit is regarded as one of the chief instigators of the crusades. Peter the Hermit - Wikipedia
. It has also been alleged that Peter the Hermit was the personal tutor of Godfroi de Bouillon but I can find no evidence that supports this contention. However, Peter the Hermit would eventually end up in Jerusalem after the Crusader’s conquest and must no doubt have met with Godfroi given his fame and acclaim at that time.
Quoting Wikipedia: In 1099 Peter appears as the treasurer of the alms at the siege of Arqa
, and as leader of the supplicatory processions around the walls of Jerusalem before it fell, and later within Jerusalem, which preceded the Crusaders' surprising victory at the Battle of Ascalon
(August 1099). At the end of 1099, Peter went to Latakia, and sailed thence for the West. From this time he disappears from the historical record. Albert of Aix
records that he died in 1131, as prior of the Augustinian church
of the Holy Sepulchre which he had founded in France. However, others argue that it was actually in Flanders at Neufmoustier near Huy in Belgium, or Huy itself, which may have been his home town. His tomb is in the Neufmoustier Abbey
(an Augustinian Abbey dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre and Saint John the Baptist
), so it is presumed that this was his Abbey but in another tradition the nearby Solières Abbey
(a Cistercian Convent) claims that it was his foundation. So we see that Peter the Hermit had associations with the Augustinian order and the abbey where he is apparently buried is dedicated to St John the Baptist, a saint the Templars also venerated.
We also know that Abbé Bérenger Saunière acquired three paintings one of which was of Saint Anthony the Hermit
. Saint Anthony (c. 12 January 251 – 17 January 356), was one of the most famous of the Desert Fathers of Egypt and is considered one of the founders of Christian monasticism. Anthony the Great - Wikipedia
. He is also known as the ‘Father of All Monks’. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, among the first known to go into the wilderness (about AD 270), which seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony
in Western art and literature. It is the painting of this name by David Teniers that would feature in the Rennes-le-Château mystery. Could Saint Anthony the Hermit therefore have been a smokescreen for Peter the Hermit, who helped to launch the First Crusade that would see Jerusalem fall into the hands of the Crusaders? Laura has also commented that Saint Anthony seems to have replaced St Augustine somewhere along the way in this mystery. Could this have been a deliberate misdirection on someone’s part?
Although we must treat with the utmost suspicion anything that Gerard de Sede provided, or cooked-up, within the Priory of Sion dossier of secrets or the so called hidden parchments found at the church in Rennes-le-Château, there was an interesting reference to St Anthony made in one of the deciphered parchments:
“Shepherdess. No temptation. That Poussin, Teniers hold the key: Peace 681. By the Cross and this Horse of God, I complete – or destroy – This daemon of the Guardian of Noon. Blue Apples.
Whatever the motives of the creator of this cipher (probably de Sede himself) there are some interesting references appearing within it, some of which have been touched on in the Cassiopaean transcripts. For example, the reference to “Blue Apples
” may link to Kore
and “Horse of God
” may relate to “Chevalier” or “knight”, which although it may be a reference to the Templars, it could also relate to Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, who is sometimes depicted as a horse and whose shadow is supposed to be seen in Poussin’s painting of the Shepherds of Arcadia.
Returning to the mysterious band of monks from Calabria who vanished from Orval, the authors speculated whether they might have established themselves in Jerusalem, perhaps in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Sion, which had been built by the year 1108 AD. With no documentary evidence to substantiate this, the authors looked to fragments of circumstantial evidence to support their hypothesis. They noted that when Godfroi de Bouillon embarked for the Holy Land, he is known to have been accompanied by an entourage of anonymous figures who acted as advisors and administrators – effectively like a modern general staff. This in itself is not unusual for a prominent figure heading an army as Godfroi was. In addition, it was not unusual in those days to include clerics such as friars or monks in one’s entourage, since they were amongst the few educated and literate men of the age, who could read and write letters and keep a chronicle of events. Christopher Columbus and Cortez had Dominican friars accompanying them on their respective voyages of exploration and conquest. The authors noted though that there were three other armies who set out for the Holy Land at the same time, each commanded by an illustrious and influential western potentate. If the Crusade succeeded, any one of these four military leaders could have been selected to occupy the throne of Jerusalem. However, the authors suggest that Godfroi knew in advance that it would be him, since he alone of the four commanders renounced all his fiefdoms and sold all his goods with a view to remaining in the Holy Land for the rest of his life.
In 1099, immediately after the capture of Jersualem, a group of anonymous figures convened together in a secret conclave. The identity of this group has eluded all historical inquiry – although Guillaume de Tyre, writing three quarters of century later, reports that the most important of them was a ‘certain bishop from Calabria’. In any case, the purpose of the meeting was quite clear – to elect a king of Jerusalem. Although Raymond, the Count of Tolouse would appear to have had a persuasive claim, the mysterious and obviously influential electors promptly offered the throne to Godfroi de Bouillon. With uncharacteristic modesty, he declined the throne accepting instead the title of ‘Defender of the Holy Sepulchre’, a king in all but name. When he died in 1100, his brother Baudouin did not hesitate in accepting the name as well. The authors wondered if the mysterious conclave which elected Godfroi may have been the monks from Orval, including perhaps Peter the Hermit who was in the Holy Land at that time and enjoyed considerable authority. If true, it would certainly attest to the Order of Sions’s power – a power which seemingly even included the right to confer thrones. Needless to say, this is pure speculation on the part of the three authors but the link with Calabria does certainly appear interesting.
In their footnotes, the authors, using William of Tyre as their main source, point out that the unnamed bishop from Calabria was friend of a man called Arnulf, a very minor ecclesiastic, who, with the help of this bishop, was later elected the first Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. This would suggest that this bishop had a lot of influence on the ground in the newly conquered Holy Land. They also mentioned a very strange group that had survived from the earlier People’s Crusade led by Peter the Hermit that were called the ‘Tafurs’. Of this group there was an inner college presided over by a king of the Tafurs. What is odd is that contemporary chronicles present this king of the Tafurs as a man that even the princes of the crusades approached with humility - even reverence. Indeed, it was this King Tafur who was said to have performed the coronation of Godfroi de Bouillon. He was also said to be associated with Peter the Hermit. This made the authors wonder whether this inner group and the king were the representatives from Calabria.
The Priory dossier of secrets also alleged that King Baudoin I in 1117 (when he was virtually on his deathbed) was obliged to negotiate the constitution of the Order of the Temple at the site of St. Léonard of Acre, which was then made public the following year. The authors own research revealed that St. Léonard of Acre was one of the fiefs of the Order of Sion. Although they could not find out why Baudoin was obliged to negotiate the Templars’ constitution, the implication was that the Order of Sion was powerful enough to pressure, if not coerce, Baudoin into doing their bidding. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the authors had found hard evidence to show that the Templars had existed, at least in embryonic form, for at least four years prior to their generally accepted date of founding in 1118. The authors speculated that the Knights Templar could have been active, albeit in an ex officio capacity, long before 1118 – as, say, a military entourage or administrative arm of the Order of Sion, housed in its fortified Abbey.
It is worth pointing out that the authors at this stage had already begun to “discern a web of intricate, elusive and provocative connections, the shadowy vestiges perhaps of some ambitious design.” When considering the above players and events together and linking them with the actions of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and his Cistercians, the Count of Champagne and André de Montbard, St, Bernard’s uncle and an alleged member of the Order of Sion who joined with Hugues de Payen in founding the Templars, it looked to the three authors that they were dealing with a plan of some sort, conceived and engineered by some human agency and not something that was random or coincidental. They naturally wondered whether that agency was the Order of Sion. Taking a step back here, whilst also taking into account that the authors had been guided to some extent by Gerard de Sede’s Priory dossier secrets, one has to consider that even if the Order of Sion had not been the active agency in guiding these events, there would certainly appear to have been a conspiracy operating behind the scenes orchestrating the establishment of the Templars.
It would appear that the Order of Sion then remained based solely in the Holy Land in their Abbey on the outskirts of Jerusalem until 1152. However, on his return from the Second Crusade, Louis VII of France is said to have brought back with him ninety-five members of the Order of Sion. There is no explanation in what capacity these members attended on the king or why he extended his bounty to them. However, if the Order of Sion was the real power behind the Templars this would certainly explain things, since King Louis was heavily indebted to the Templars at that time both for money and military support. Supposedly sixty-two members of the Order were installed at the large priory of St. Samson at Orleans, which King Louis had donated to them and seven knights were then reportedly incorporated into the fighting ranks of the Knights Templar. As to the remaining twenty-six members, two groups of thirteen each (MJF: a significant number to the Illuminati) are said to have entered the small Priory of the Mount of Sion, situated at St. Jean le Blanc on the outskirts of Orleans. The authors were subsequently able to authenticate this since the charters by which King Louis installed the Order of Sion at Orleans still exist. The originals and copies can be viewed in the municipal archives at Orleans and there is also a papal Bull dated 1178 from Pope Alexander III, which officially confirms the Order of Sion’s possessions. These possessions attest to the Order’s wealth, power and influence at this stage. This includes large tracts of land in France, Spain, Sicily, Lombardy and Calabria in Italy, as well as their holdings in the Holy Land. In fact, until the Second World War, the archives in Orleans held no fewer than twenty charters specifically citing the Order of Sion. However, during the bombing of the city in 1940 all but three of these original charters disappeared (MJF: how convenient!).
In spite of the underlying suspicion of fraudulent creation where the Priory of Sion dossier of secrets is concerned, there is supporting evidence to prove that there was in the 12th century a genuine order that went by the name of the Priory of Sion and like the Templars (and the Cistercians whose foundation preceded the 12th century) they quickly established considerable wealth and significant property holdings in Western Europe and the Holy Land. It is hard to understand why this was so at this distance in time. This leads one to ask whether it may be that they had discovered something, or some items, of immense importance that they could leverage off to build a power base. Furthermore, one needs to ask whether the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were established in accordance with a plan that pre-dated the First Crusade. Finally, one could ask whether a heavily fortified Abbey was built on the outskirts of Jerusalem, on a hill whose name has overt biblical significance, in order to house and guard something of major importance – perhaps the very reason why the two orders were created in the first place. Could that something possibly have been the Holy Grail and other Old Testament artefacts?