Abbé François Bérenger Saunière arrives in Rennes-le-Château in 1885 as impoverished as the remote mountain village itself. Inspired by the true story, this unconventional priest amasses a fortune, creates a magnificent estate and brings his ancient, crumbling Church of Saint Maria Magdalena to glory. During the renovation he unearths a first century urn containing two shocking documents—a parchment with grave consequences for his friend, Father Antoine Gélis, and a papyrus he feels morally bound to hide for safekeeping.
Dr. Giselle Gélis is resigned to living within the insular world of biblical scholarship until Dr. David Rettig, a gregarious American archeologist, bursts into her life in 2012. He’s more familiar with Shakespeare and poetry than the Gospels; she’s a pragmatist, he’s a dreamer—but it’s kismet, nonetheless. A trip across the south of France to learn more about her great-great-uncle’s life is transformed into a romantic sojourn, with nights spent in old castles and days devoted to atmospheric holy sites linked with Giselle’s heroine, Marie-Madeleine. The pièce de résistance of this idyllic week would have been exploring Rennes-le-Château and puzzling over the unsolved clues; instead, they stumble on the discovery of a lifetime.
As the threads of these stories intertwine, an intriguing and little known historical mystery is woven through a contemporary tale of sweeping emotional intensity, illuminating the complexities of human relationships—and the power of love.