In recent years, a great deal of information has been published
in books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail alleging that
the Holy Grail actually refers to a bloodline descended
from Jesus. By this account Jesus and Mary Magdalene produced
offspring, and their descendants gave rise to the Merovingian
dynasty, which ruled France from 476 to 750 A.D. Well intentioned
readers and even authors have been deceived by this story
and have mistaken it for the revelation of a suppressed
history. Unfortunately the only thing that has been suppressed
is the truth.
The Grail is not a bloodline. This false story originated
in reams of fraudulent documents created by an extreme right-wing
French sect. The group responsible for these fictions, calling
itself the "Priory of Sion" and claiming an ancient
esoteric lineage, has kept its own authentic history carefully
hidden. How it constructed its fraud has not been revealed.
It is long past time for the light of truth to reveal the
"Priory of Sion" and the fictional bloodline it
has promoted for what they are really are -- a fraud. The
background of this group reveals its actual motives and
sources of information.
The trail to the "Priory of Sion" fraud begins
in mid-nineteenth-century France. A resurgent interest in
the occult led to the creation of many esoteric groups.
Members of these groups often belonged to several organizations.
Their leaders often broke away to form competing factions.
At the same time, constant turmoil in the French government
drew France into two increasingly hostile camps jousting
for political supremacy. The royalists, composed of the
Catholic Church, the far right, and the supporters of the
old system of royalty, vied for power with the republicans,
composed of Freemasons and other supporters of democratically
elected governments. Their struggle affected the lives and
views of every Frenchman. From 1877 to the eve of the Second
World War, Freemasons dominated French government. Their
domination earned them bitter enemies.
In the 1880's, at the height of this political conflict,
Joseph Alexandre St. Yves d'Alveydre, "the supreme
Hermeticist of his epoch,"(1) proposed a new idea for
injecting moral values into governing society. He called
it "synarchy" and claimed it was the method used
by the Knights Templar to change medieval society. An elect
band of initiates would influence groups representing different
aspects of society. Those groups would influence their spheres
and ultimately the entire social order.
By the turn of the century, the royalist faction came to
fear synarchy, whose influence had spread beyond esoteric
groups. By the 1920s, Masonic groups with distinctly synarchist
policies were a reality in France. In the 1930s, even a
leftist group, called the X-Cruise Club, advocated a technocracy
with synarchist ideas.(2)
In this era, the French far right formed its own seemingly
esoteric groups. But they were actually front organizations,
pretending to have Masonic and esoteric affiliations in
order to draw support away from the Masons. As anti-semitism
spread across Europe in the 1930s, the French far right
denounced Masons and Jews in the same breath. When fourteen
initiatic orders created a federation called FUDOSI to promote
peace and positive ideals, the far right increased its formation
of pseudo-Masonic groups.
During the war, Nazi occupation policy was to arrest leaders
of esoteric organizations, put them in concentration camps,
and seize their groups' records and membership rolls, which
were placed in a central depository. In France this depository
was called the Centre d'Action Maconnique, and the French
occupation government at Vichy actively aided the Gestapo
in its persecution of Masonic and esoteric orders. So great
was the far right's fear of Masonic influence that an unknown
source even issued a document called the "Chauvin Report,"
alleging Masonic involvement in Vichy. (3) While these events
were taking place, the individuals who later formed the
"Priory of Sion" were being gathered into two
groups. One group, known to have been in existence as early
as 1934, was called Alpha Galates. Toward the end of the
1930s Alpha Galates utilized a young man named Pierre Plantard,
born March 18, 1920, as its titular head.
In 1937, at the age of only seventeen, Plantard attempted
to found an anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic group to engage
"purifying and renewing France" and sought official
permission to publish a periodical called "The Renewal
of France." (4) This theme Would constantly appear
in association with Alpha Galates and later with the "Priory
By 1939, Plantard headed a Catholic youth group holding
retreats in Brittany for teenagers and in 1939 was also
noted as addressing a gathering of Catholic youth. Either
Plantard was exceptionally precocious or he was carefully
coached by older people, including a probable sponsor inside
the Church who arranged his engagements. Most likely, he
made these connections through ties to the parent organization
of Alpha Galates and through his own youthful activities
at the Parisian parish of St. Louis d'Antin, where he eventually
became its sexton.
Under the collaborationist Vichy regime, the group behind
Plantard and Alpha Galates sought influence with the government.
On December 16, 1940, Plantard wrote to Marshal Petain,
head of the Vichy regime, denouncing a vast Jewish-Masonic
plot. But he failed to receive any attention beyond routine
entries in police files. In 1941, Plantard applied to found
an organization called "French National Renewal"
but was denied official permission in September of that
year. Finally in 1942, Plantard and his superiors again
sought public visibility, now openly using the name Alpha
Galates and promoting a publication called Vaincre ("Conquer").
Vaincre, which commenced publication in September 1942,
was filled with anti-Semitic, fawningly pro-Vichy articles
and sprinkled with shallow, superficial esoterica on Celtic
traditions and chivalry. Nonetheless Alpha Galates tried
to present this journal as the clearinghouse of a relatively
sizable and cohesive body of young people. After six issues
it ceased publication. But it earned Plantard some recognition.
He was periodically observed by the police. As late as February
1945, the police were still investigating Alpha Galates
and its revolving-door membership of 50 or so, and concluded
it had no serious purpose. But at least one serious seeker,
Robert Amadou, who joined Alpha Galates believing it was
a genuine esoteric group, suggests that its focus was political.
Later a Freemason and Martinist, after 40 years Amadou refused
to discuss Alpha Galates, only saying, "For my part,
I have never been involved in political activity, before
In 1947, while a revived FUDOSI met in Paris, Pierre Plantard
filed the legal papers necessary to create another organization,
called the Latin Academy. Its titular head was his own mother.
Its ostensible purpose was "historical research."
Its real purpose was to carry on the right-wing program
of its predecessor. By the mid-1950s Plantard began promoting
himself in Catholic circles as the Merovingian pretender
to the throne of France. One place where he engaged in these
activities was the Paris church and seminary of St. Sulpice.(7)
In 1956, Plantard and others created a new group named
the "Priory of Sion." It had statutes remarkably
similar to those of Alpha Galates and published a magazine
called Circuit. Disinformation which would eventually become
widespread about the Rennes-le-Château affair also
began to appear, starting in the magazine La Depeche de
Midi, in early 1956.(8)
With the French government in turmoil in 1958, Plantard
and his group again sought political influence, alleging
that they controlled the pro-de Gaulle Committees of Public
Safety and utilizing Plantard-written articles in the newspaper
Le Monde to imply a secret association between de Gaulle
and Plantard.(9) Any connection between de Gaulle and the
self-styled "eminences grises" from whom the great
of this world seek counsel(10) is unknown to de Gaulles
associates and biographers. But by 1959, new issues of Circuit
were trumpeting this link.
Circuit shifted to a steady diet of superficial Masonic
and esoteric subjects, flirting with mythology, astrology,
and chivalry; restructuring French government; the unique
(but unspecified) greatness of Pierre Plantard; and, of
course, French National Renewal. They also pointedly and
proudly promoted Vaincre's anti-Semitic, anti-Masonic back
The book Treasures of the World by Robert Charroux
proved a popular success in France in 1962. Charroux's mixture
of mysticism, historical mysteries, and lost treasures,
and public interest in his recounting of the mystery of
Gisors, allowed the "Priory" to launch itself
into public view. Claiming to be an inside source, the "Priory"
alleged that the lost underground chapel of St. Anne in
Gisors, Normandy, contained either secret "Priory"
recordsor the lost treasure of the Knights Templars. None
of these fictions materialized. But they gave the "Priory"
the visibility to successfully promote itself and its false
history of France, descendants of Jesus, and esoteric orders
in books and articles.
The real Priory of Sion was an authentic Catholic monastic
order. A priory is a religious house or order. Sion or Zion
is the ancient name for Jerusalem, where the order was headquartered
at the monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Zion. It transferred
its headquarters to St. Leonard d'Acre in Palestine and
later to Sicily. In 1617 it ceased to exist and was absorbed
into the Jesuit order.It was never a seething cabal of esoteric
and political interests, never had any influence over the
Templars or any esoteric orders, and does not exist today
as a legitimate order, Catholic or otherwise. It has been
appropriated like many authentic histories, esoteric traditions,
and orders to create a false history. In deference to the
truth, in the remainder of this article I will refer to
the false "Priory" in quotes.
Two examples will quickly illustrate how the false "Priory"
has created its fictions. It has attempted to appropriate
Templar history and portray the Templars as subservient
to it and to its fictional bloodline(14) through totally
fabricated documents various authors call "the Priory
documents" and by such claims as one that the familial
home of a Templar Grand Master was at Blanchefort, near
Rennes-le-Château. Yet Blanchefort was the home of
a Cathar noble by that name, not a Templar Grand Master.(15)
Few researchers have bothered to investigate this or innumerable
other outright fictions.
Similarly, Plantard alleges his "suppressed"
last name is St. Clair, although no shred of proof supports
this claim.(16) The Sinclairs (originally St. Clair), hereditary
heads of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, were related by marriage
to Templar founder Hugh de Payen. In this way, the "Priory"
seeks to imply that it has an ancient and leading role in
Masonry. Appropriating honored names associated with the
esoteric is a tactic used at the time of Alpha Galates by
prewar, anti-Masonic French rightists.(17)
The "Priory" constructed its fiction of the bloodline
of Jesus by first creating the appearance of an authentic
esoteric lineage for itself. It accomplished this by placing
fabricated histories in libraries, by falsely associating
itself with ancient esoteric groups, and by usurping the
heritage of prewar esoteric groups. The group the "Priory"
has plagiarized most from is the Order of the Rose-Croix
of the Temple and the Grail, founded by Josephin Péladan
This group is intimately connected with the real affair
of Rennes-le Château. Some of its real and alleged
links adopted by the "Priory" include: the work
of the painter Nicolas Poussin; Emma Calvé, a singer
with numerous occult connections; claimed associations -with
the Holy Vehm, the Knights Templar, and the survival of
a supposedly lost monarchy; association with prominent cultural
figures-, sensationalistic announcements of the discovery
of the tomb of Jesus; the supposition of a higher esoteric
order with supreme knowledge; the Cathars; and other themes
appearing in "Priory" inspired stories. Bérenger
Saunière, cure of Rennes-le-Château from 1885
to 1917, may have been associated with the Order of the
Rose-Croix of the Temple and the Grail. This association
is the source of the incomplete information which the "Priory
of Sion" has inherited about Rennes-le-Château
through the "Priory's" real founder, "Count
The actual "Priory" history begins with that
obscure man, Georges "Count Israel" Monti, secretary
to Josephin Péladan. Born in Toulouse in 1880 and
Jesuit-educated, Monti considered the priesthood but entered
the world of initiatic orders at age 22 and became a high-level
Scottish Rite Mason.(18) By 1906 he had rapidly advanced
in Péladan's order. In 1908 he journeyed to Egypt
and in 1909 to Munich on Péladan's behalf.
Following Péladan's death in 1918, Monti appears
as one trying desperately to be at ground zero of occult
activities, but always only appearing as a supporting player
with incomplete knowledge. He so craved recognition that
he even affected the title "Count Israel" Monti.
He began to tell melodramatic tales of his involvement in
the supposed political activities of esoteric orders, although
his only known political connection was with Léon
Daudet, brother of the leader of the rightist group Action
Francaise. And in 1922 Monti excitedly claimed an affiliation
with the controversial magician Aleister Crowley and his
occult group, and said he had been charged by occult groups
in England and Germany to begin a new order.
In 1924, the sorcerer's apprentice sought to become the
master. Monti acted to fulfill these sweeping directives
and formed a new group. According to occultist Anne Osmont,
he moved forward with a plan "to destroy all which
is dear and precious to me, to build an illusory society."
Together with a man calling himself Gaston Demengel, Monti,
using the name Marcus Vella, formed a group calling itself
"Groupe occidental d'etudes esoteriques," a very
small, supposedly esoteric order. This organization was
highly secretive, pretending to be an elite body dedicated
to bringing the world a lasting peace and having a male
and female branch (the Isis lodge). The extent of its membership
and activities is unknown. Its only known document claimed
as one of its goals the reconciliation of esoteric orders
with the Catholic Church. This goal, as well as the pretensions
of exclusivity, elitism, and an alleged interest in world
peace, is echoed in the "Priory of Sion."
In October 1936, the Bulletin des ateliers superieurs
de la Grande Loge de la France, the organ of the Masonic
Grand Lodge, published a piece denouncing Monti as a trafficker
in information, a fraudulent claimant to nobility, and a
supposed Jesuit agent. On the 21st of the same month, Monti
was found dead. Monti's close associate Dr. Camille Savoire
rushed to examine him and claimed that Monti had been poisoned.
Savoire is mentioned in the first issues of Alpha Galates'
magazine Vaincre as one who, along with Plantard, rightist
Louis Le Fur, and a Maurice Moncharville, was responsible
for creating Vaincre. In issue No. 4 of Vaincre, Le Fur
writes that he was initiated into Alpha Galates by Georges
Monti in 1934. From 1934 until his death, Monti lived at
80 rue du Rocher in Paris. Perhaps too coincidentally, in
1942-43, Vaincre was printed down the street at 45 rue du
Rocher by a Poirer Murat, whose name would surface after
the war in association with Plantard.
Savoire had a long history of forming alternative esoteric
groups. While active in Masonry, Savoire disagreed with
long-established Masonic practices, goals, and leadership.
Like Monti, Savoire was made a high-level Scottish Rite
Mason, in Geneva in 1910. But by 1913, Savoire had formed
his own group, the National Grand Lodge of France. In 1935,
after the formation of Alpha Galates, he formed the interestingly
named Grand Priory of the Gauls. He died in 1951. His close
association with Monti and his involvement with alternative
orders makes Savoire a likely candidate for assuming Monti's
vacated leadership of Groupe occidental d'etudes esoteriques.
There are many associations between the pre-war activities
of Plantard and Monti and their associates on the one hand
and the themes identified with the postwar "Priory
of Sion" on the other. It is highly likely that Alpha
Galates was a front for Monti's group and that Monti's group
continued on, subsequently implementing a plan which would
be carried out under the guise of the "Priory of Sion."
The "Priory's" first objective is to position
itself in the mind of an unknowing public as the supreme
Western esoteric organization. It dreams of utilizing that
constituency in a synarchy-like fashion to promote its hybrid
agenda of right-wing politics and turn-of-the-century esoteric
teachings. It does not represent the real teachings of any
positive esoteric order. It is materialistic, obsessed with
attaining influence, and has fabricated documents without
regard for any ethical considerations. Its program is to
manipulate people through lies in order to promote itself.
The so-called bloodline created by the "Priory"
does not exist. There is no descent from Jesus through the
Merovingians or other families; in fact there is no genuine
evidence of any bloodline descended from Christ. The survival
of the Merovingian bloodline as promulgated in the "Priory"
documents is based on the alleged marriage of Giselle de
Razes to the seventh-century Merovingian King Dagobert Il.
Giselle de Razes never existed. Plantard and his associates
The fraudulent history of the "Priory of Sion"
and its false bloodline was created by utilizing the vast
amount of esoteric documents publicly available in French
libraries and by depositing its own documents among them.
For example, Madan's papers were deposited in the Bibliotheque
de l'Arsenal, and St.-Yves' papers were deposited in the
Sorbonne in 1938 by the son of the well-known French occultist
Papus, along with many of Papus' own papers.(19) An investigation
by researcher Paul Smith has shown that some of the documents
indicating a supposed bloodline and a "Priory"
-inspired poem called Le serpent rouge were printed on the
same press. During the war it is probable that the "Priory"
also had access to the seized records of Masonic and esoteric
societies, some quite old, which were deposited in the occupation-controlled
Centre d'Action Maconnique. This depository was headed by
Henri Coston, a right-wing, anti-Semitic journalist and
collaborator, who was quoted on the first page of Vaincre
Similarly, to create credibility with researchers, the
"Priory" attached Plantard's family tree to an
authentic genealogy originally appearing in a special edition
of the historical journal Les cahiers de l'histoire No.
1 (1960), which was deposited in libraries containing other
fabricated "Priory" documents.(20)
The concept of the phony bloodline originated in two places.
In the 1930s the writings and speeches of the Italian esotericist
Julius Evola received prominence in many philosophical,
esoteric, and right-wing political circles, and were admired
by Nazi leaders like Heinrich Himmler. Many "Priory"
themes originated in Evola's ideas. To Evola's thinking,
in the old system of world order, the king was believed
to be a sacred being. Divine virtues and powers descended
on him. Traditional institutions were based on sacred legacies.
The state itself had a transcendent meaning. Evola also
referred to a special quality of the blood which he alleged
once existed in one royal house. Above all, he admired Godfrey
of Bouillon, first Latin ruler of Palestine after the First
Crusade, as the ideal ruler, the lux monarchorum ("light
of monarchs").(21) Man could only be restored, Evola
wrote, by the government of a spiritual elite, those wearing
the belt or cord of initiates that marks the "carriers
of some invisible influence."(22) All these ideas permeate
"Priory" thought; "the Priory documents"
even require members to have a cord at initiation.
To create the concept of the bloodline, Evola's ideas were
melded with one other source, the doctoral dissertation
of Walter Johannes Stein, originally published in Germany
in 1928.(23) In this work, called The Ninth Century:
World History in the Light of the Holy Grail, Stein,
a close associate of Rudolf Steiner, detailed what he felt
was the historical and symbolic background behind the Grail
An appendix to The Ninth Century is a genealogical
chart Stein calls the "Grail bloodline." One side
extends into the royal house of France. Another extends
down to Godfrey of Bouillon. Part of Stein's thesis is that
events in the lives of actual historical figures served
as models for the characters and for some events in the
Grail stories. According to Stein, the people associated
with this family tree were acknowledged in their time as
being of a high spiritual nature and having paranormal capacities.
Yet he also stresses that these capacities had vanished
from this family hundreds of years ago.
An undisciplined reader of Stein could easily confuse the
historical persons with symbols. Stein's intent is actually
to illustrate how the positive spiritual forces represented
by the Holy Grail are sometimes manifested in the lives
and actions of people and how those actions can affect society
and events. He did not in any way state or imply that the
Holy Grail was, or that it represented, a bloodline. He
knew very well that is not the case.
These are the sources which, when twisted and distorted,
were used to fabricate the fiction that a special bloodline
supported by an age-old esoteric society lay behind most
of the key political events and mysteries of French history
and even the Holy Grail itself.
Today the "Priory" is intermittently active.
Periodically, people claiming to be its representatives
still attempt to influence writers and researchers by promoting
in private correspondence the "Priory's" fabricated
versions of history. Many well-intentioned people have been
deceived by these fabrications. Despite the disillusionment
which many may now feel, it is important to know there are
groups and individuals in the world who are genuinely spiritual,
highly developed, and acting to benefit mankind. They have
existed in the past; they exist today; they will exist in
the future, as long as even only a handful of people have
the courage to reach inside themselves and live their lives
in accordance with a genuine spirituality. However, to preserve
the truth, it is incumbent on each of us to speak out on
its behalf to counterbalance the false and materialistic
sensationalism of the world's "Priories of Sion."
By following such a path of integrity, each of us can work
to maintain true spirituality, both within ourselves and
in the world. Only then will be born a better day for humanity.
This is in fact one of the lessons learned on the quest
of the great spiritual reality which is the genuine Holy
1. Joscelyn Godwin, "The Creation of a Universal System:
St.-Yves d'Alveydre and his Archaeometer," in Alexandria
1 (1991), p. 230.
2. Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians: The Templars
and Their Myth (New York: Oxford University Press. 1982),
3. Ibid. p. 173.
4. For information on Plantard's background and work at
this time, see "The Message of a Sacred Enigma, Tales,
Legends and Myths of Rennes-le Chateau," an extract
from "The Table of Isis, Part 2, The Templars of the
Apocalypse," by Jean-Luc Chaumeil, translated by Paul
Smith in The Rennes Observer 15 (June 1997), esp. pp. 19-20.
5. Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, The
Messianic Legacy (New York: Henry Holt, 1986), p. 35
1. Emphasis added.
6. Chaumeil, p. 20.
7. See Robert Richardson. "A Merovingian Promotion
at St. Sulpice," ill The Rennes Observer 16 (Sept.
1997), pp. 36-37.
8. Paul Smith. "A Rennes-le-Château Chronology,"
Le Reflet (Engish language version, Autumn 1994), pp. 10-13.
9. Baigent et al., Messianic Legacy, pp. 288-95.
10. Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln,
Holy Blood, Holy Grail (New York: Delacorte Press,
1982), p. 196. quoting an article in the "Priory"
11. Baigent et al., Messianic Legacy, pp. 296-99,
notes many similarities between the "Priory" and
12. Baigent et al., Holy Blood, Holy Grail, p. 138.
13. Gerard de Sede, Rennes-le-Château: Le dossier,
les impostures, les phanstasmes, les hypotheses (Paris:
Robert Lafont, 1988), p. 127.
14. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, pp. 36-67, is a good
example of this nonsense.
15. See Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978), p. 78.
16. Baigent et al., Messianic Legacy, pp. 259-60.
Also see Holy Blood, Holy Grail, p. 439, note 21.
17. See Partner, p. 174, for an example.
18. De Sede, pp. 225-36.
19. Godwin, p. 230.
20. Chaumeil, p. 20.
21. Julius Evola. Revolt against the Modern World,
trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1994);
foreword by H.T. Hansen, pp. viii, 15, 22, 41, 298, 300.
22. Julius Evola, The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation
and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit, trans. Guido
Stucco (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1996), p. 134.
23. Walter Johannes Stein, The Ninth Century: World
History in the Light of the Holy Grail (London: Temple
Lodge Press, 1991).
(c) 2000 by Robert Richardson. All rights reserved. Originally
published in Gnosis
(No. 51, Spring 1999), pp. 49-55.
Robert Richardson is the author of The Unknown Treasure:
The Priory of Sion Fraud and the Spiritual Treasure of Rennes-le-Château
(Houston, TX: NorthStar, 1998), available from Pratum
Book Co., PO Box 985, Healdsburg, California 95448, USA.
Article is reproduced on Alpheus with the kind permission
of the author and publisher.
See also Paul Smith's response: "Priory
of Sion Misconceptions: Robert Richardson and Steven Mizrach"
and some more discussions and links on
the Priory of Sion.