by Alan James



Three little words, Rennes-le-Chateau… The passing millennia have produced many bizarre mysteries; the riddle of the Sphinx and the Pyramids on the Giza plateau are probably the most famous, but in recent years, perhaps the most engrossing of these enigmas concerns what transpired in the quiet village of Rennes-le-Chateau in the foothills of the French Pyrenees during the dying years of the 19th century. There have been many theories proffered to explain the events, but in essence, not one has provided either the complete picture or a wholly satisfactory explanation. In this mixture of history, fact and well-informed conjecture, there are elements of buried treasure, unexplained wealth and clandestine meetings, in fact, all the aspects of a traditional mystery story; however there are other arcane, less obvious facets to the tale.


Secret societies, strange rites, an order of incredibly wealthy and powerful warrior monks, alchemy and magic, it is to these aspects that we address ourselves. However, before dealing directly the enigma, it is important that the main players are identified and to this end, I have included a description of them. I also wish to pay tribute to Ms Leslee Dru Browning, of Seattle USA, a powerful and talented shaman, psychic and author, whose unstinting advice and insights made this project so much easier.

Fr. Berenger Sauniere

First, a brief outline of how the mystery began: Following his appointment to the village of Rennes-le-Chateau in 1885, the young priest Fr. Berenger Sauniere lived an austere and unremarkable life, but suddenly in 1891, during some restoration work on the church, Sauniere found, in a Visigoth pillar under the alter, two parchments. It is the information contained on these parchments that ignite the mystery. They appear to have been hidden there by Sauniere’s predecessor in the parish of a century before, an Abbe Antoine Bigou. At first sight, the parchments appeared to be Latin texts of passages copied from the Gospels, but on closer examination, there was code or cipher present. It was observed that certain letters were out of line with the rest of the text and the letters spelled out words in French.

The original French and English translations are as follows.

 ‘Bergere pas de tentation que Poussin Tenniers gardent la clef pax DCLXXXI par le croix et ce cheval de dieu j’achieve ce daemon de gardien a midi pommes bleues’.


click image to enlarge

A Midi Pommes Bleues

(Blue Apples at Midday)
Photo taken at 12:45pm in the church at Rennes le Chateau

on 17 January 2005


‘Shepherdess, no temptation. That Poussin, Tenniers hold the key: peace 681. By the cross and this horse of God. I complete (or destroy) this daemon of the guardian at noon blue apples’ [Trans].

On the other, equally enigmatic parchment was inscribed:

‘A Dagobert II roi et a Sion est tresor et il est la mort’,


‘To Dagobert II King, and to Sion belongs this treasure and he is there dead.’[Trans].

Whatever the meaning of these ciphers, it was enough to send Sauniere to the local mayor who gave him permission to visit his superior, the bishop at Carcassone. Like Sauniere, the bishop could not understand the cipher either, so at his own expense, he sent the priest to Paris for assistance and advice. It was here that he met Emile Hoffet, who, although studying for the priesthood was also an expert in cryptography. Interestingly, and perhaps paradoxically, Hoffet was also involved in various arcane and occult organizations that flourished in Paris and indeed throughout Europe, at that time. Following this meeting, Sauniere spent three weeks in Paris where he became involved with the exotic circles in which Hoffet moved. It was during this interlude that Sauniere reportedly became the lover of the opera singer Emma Calve, who like Hoffet was involved with the same esoteric groups. She was also friendly with the composer Claude Debussy whose name will appear again in this tale.

During his time in Paris, Sauniere spent some time in the Louvre studying the works of the painters mentioned in the ciphers, Poussin and Tenniers. In particular his attention was taken by one work, a painting by Poussin entitled ‘Les Bergers d’Arcadie’ or the ‘Shepherds of Arcadia’ [Trans]. The work depicts shepherds grouped around a tomb, one of the group indicates an engraving on the tomb: ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’, In Arcadia I [Trans]. This was only one of five paintings by Poussin that was dedicated to the subject of Arcadia. The difference was that in this instance the depiction of the tomb was not created by the imagination of the artist. The tomb actually existed close to the village of Arques and the painting was accurate even down to the rendering of mountains on the skyline. The tomb is no longer there; it was suddenly and mysteriously demolished in the late 1960’s for no good or obvious reason (apparently) other than the amount of attention now being paid to the enigma surrounding Rennes-le Chateau. In fact, there were a group of documentary filmmakers at the tomb one morning, they went for lunch and on their return, they found the tomb razed to the ground; no explanation has ever been found.

On his return from Paris, Sauniere continued with the church restoration but one incident in particular is of interest, in the churchyard adjoining the church there stood a headstone erected and designed, once again by Sauniere’s predecessor Antoine Bigou. The engraving on the headstone contained what were apparently mistakes in spelling and spacing; it also formed an anagram of the writing on the parchments. Fortunately, for posterity this had already been copied, because for whatever reason, Sauniere took it upon himself to deface the headstone by erasing the entire inscription. Clearly, he wanted no evidence connecting this to the parchments. Shortly after this, the priest launched into spending spree in the parish, the source of the money has never been established. While some of this was of benefit to the village, much was for his own purposes.


He had a library ‘The Tour Magdala’, or ‘The Magdalene Tower’ [Trans] constructed overlooking the sheer side of the mountain, he also had a large villa built, the Villa Bethania, which he never occupied. His church was also redecorated, but there were some curious features added, for example, there is a statue of the demon Asmodeus immediately inside the door, the demon symbolizes hidden treasure and secrets. It also said to be the builder of Solomon’s Temple. There are a number of other unusual examples including illustrations depicting the Stations of the Cross, in Station eight there is a child wrapped in a Scottish plaid. In another, Jesus Christ is depicted being carried into his tomb at night…or is he being carried out? In yet another Pontius Pilate is depicted wearing a veil and finally St Joseph and Mary are depicted each carrying a baby. There is even an inscription above the church door saying ‘Terribilis Est Locus Iste’ or ‘This Place is Terrible’ [Trans]. The significance of this inscription is unknown and adds yet another element of mystery to the enigma.

Whatever the significance of these words and symbols, Sauniere continued to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle funded by the same unknown source until January the 17th 1917 when abruptly, Sauniere at the age of 65 he suffered a sudden massive stroke. As he lay in his deathbed, a priest, Fr Riviere, was called from a neighboring parish to administer the last rights. Evidently, during his last confession Sauniere revealed something that caused the attending priest to refuse him absolution and communion, once again there is no ready explanation for this. Sauniere’s funeral was also decidedly odd, following his death on January 22nd; his body was dressed in a tasseled robe and placed in chair on the terrace outside the Tour Magdala. A number of unidentified mourners filed past, each one removing a tassel, presumably as a token of remembrance. It is curious to note that the Merovingian kings who also feature strongly in this mystery, also wore tasseled robes, the tassels were held to be imbued with magical properties as indeed were the monarchs themselves, the tassels were distributed to those deemed deserving or worthy.

Following his death, the villagers fully expected to benefit from his will, to their disappointment he had left everything to his housekeeper Marie Denarnaud who had been his confidant for the 32 years of their relationship. She lived in the Villa Bethania until her death in 1953, also from a stroke. She financed herself from the proceeds of the eventual sale of the house, the purchaser a Noel Corbu had agreed to allow her to live there on condition that she told him the nature of the Sauniere’s secret before she died. Unfortunately, to Mr Corbu’s annoyance, due to the nature and speed of her affliction this did not happen. Interestingly, following the Second World War, the French government issued a completely new currency to thwart the efforts of wartime profiteers and collaborators. Possessors of large amounts of the existing currency had to explain where they came by it. Marie was seen to burn huge bundles of old notes in the garden of the villa rather then explain where the money came from.


The Knights Templar

According to accepted wisdom, two French knights, Hughes de Payens and Godfrey of St.Omer, founded the original Knights Templar, or The Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon around 1118 AD. They traveled to the holy land and approached King Baudouin, (or Baldwin) 1st, King of Jerusalem, taking with them the blessing and sponsorship of St. Bernard of Clairvaux a prominent member of the Cistercian order of monks and the spokesman for all of Christendom in this era. Ostensibly, their intention was the protection of pilgrims traveling to and from the holy land after the first Crusade from assorted Saracen thieves and bandits. Evidently King Baudouin, himself a former crusader, was delighted at the prospect and promptly presented them with a wing of his palace to use as their headquarters. However, what happened next is open to conjecture.

The numbers of the fledgling order were swiftly made up to nine in total, then for the following nine years, virtually nothing is known. All that is certain is: no new members were admitted, and although they made occasional patrols on the pilgrim trails, the original nine were seldom seen to leave their quarters. This may have been connected with the fact that the quarters so generously donated by King Baudouin, were constructed on the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. The conjecture is that the warrior monks appear to have spent their time digging under the temple looking for…what exactly? There are many theories but no one is completely certain. The best evidence suggests there was a mixture of treasure, both material and spiritual. Details of the items secreted there are mentioned in The Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran in particular, the copper scroll. The material treasure is obvious in terms of bullion and precious stones etc., but the spiritual, - what could that have been? From all this one thing is certain, the founding of the order of warrior monks had originally very little to do with protecting pilgrims and a lot to do with gathering information and treasure.


So, who sent them and why? It is worth noting that the Templars were, due to their strict discipline and religious fervor, probably the most feared and efficient fighting men in the world. Because of this, they were held in high regard by their sworn enemies the Saracens, themselves fierce and disciplined warriors. Indeed, it was from this mutual respect with the Saracens that they learned their considerable pharmacological and metalworking skills. This probably resulted in the Templars absorbing some of the mystical beliefs of Islam, which had it been generally known, would not have found much favor with the church authorities and most likely been condemned as heresy. It was during this time that the Templars, because of their wealth and influence began operating a form of banking. A pilgrim would deposit money with a local preceptory where he was issued with an encrypted letter. The letter he took with him on his journey, and on arrival in the Holy Land, the letter was taken the preceptory there and his money was retuned to him, less interest of course, in effect, they invented the cheque.

Following the fall of the fortress of Acre in 1291, last Christian bastion in the holy land, where, according to their original code of conduct the Templars fought literally to the last man, they lost their raison d’etrait and were only too aware of their tenuous position. Initially the order regrouped and made their headquarters on the island of Cyprus, and during this period, they turned their attention to Europe trying to devise a method to justify their continued existence. Due to their unique position, they continued to attract recruits and of course, the attendant ‘gifts’ that came with them. Since they no longer had to finance the heavy costs of battle, their wealth grew quickly and the organization soon became incredibly wealthy, to the point where, in effect they became bankers to the rest of the Christian world, their wealth, influence and power was to prove their eventual downfall.

In France, King Philip the Fair was for various reasons in serious financial trouble and owed the Templars a huge sum, which of course would have to be paid back and he was in no position to do this. At first, he looked for way to raise the money and turned his unwelcome attentions to the Jews who he taxed and persecuted until they either fled France or had nothing left. Faced with this dilemma, he hatched a daring scheme, he decided to charge the Templars with heresy, which even the pope could not ignore and then seize their wealth. To this end, he and his ministers engineered the death of one pope and more likely two, until he achieved the desired result of having his own man, the archbishop of Bordeaux, who took the name of Clement V, elected pope. Following this Phillip charged the Order with a variety of heresies which may or may not have been genuine; denying Christ, spitting on the Cross, homosexuality, ‘obscene kisses’ on the genitals, worship of a head known as the ‘Baphomet’ (from the Arabic Abu Fihamet or Father of Wisdom) and a host of other charges. What is certain is the Templars were certainly aware of other belief systems, and give the nature of the order would probably have adopted some of them; therefore the possibility of occult practices is more likely than not. At first, the pope resisted the king’s demands but under continuous pressure from King Philip, eventually acceded to them.

After considerable planning, on Friday, October the 13th 1307, (the source of the superstition surrounding this date), Philip launched a series of highly secret and well thought out simultaneous raids on all the preceptories in France. He succeeded in capturing not only Jacques de Molay, ostensibly the last grand master, but also 120 other knights. Under torture, the majority eventually admitted the various charges although a few remained resolute and denied all part in any heretical practices. It is probable that the occult practices were either not known or not conducted throughout the order; therefore, the knights who denied all knowledge were probably speaking the truth. It made no difference, they were all eventually executed by burning, including Jacques de Molay, although in his case he was one of the last to die some seven years later in 1314. To Philips fury there was no sign of the Templars vast wealth; it had all gone.


Given the unique position of the Order is inconceivable that they did not have prior knowledge of their fate. It is known that immediately preceding to the fateful events of October the 13th, the night before the raids took place, the Templar fleet, some 18 vessels, sailed from the port of La Rochelle presumably carrying the contents of the various treasuries. Why De Molay and the rest of the knights elected to stay and be captured is unknown but it is speculated that due to a mixture of arrogance and pride they did not believe the king’s seneschals would go through with the raids, to his cost he discovered that they did. Where then did they go? Some went to Germany and joined one of their kindred orders, the Teutonic Knights; some went to Portugal where they aligned themselves with the ruling house, others came to Scotland where they enjoyed the protection and patronage of King Robert the Bruce, the disposition of the rest remains a mystery as indeed the whereabouts of the treasuries.


There is well-founded speculation that the remaining Templars made their way to Switzerland and founded the countries reputation as the very hub of the banking world. As we shall see later, this is not the only secretive, close knit organization founded by the Knights Templar. Finally, the Templars did not forget the punishment dealt to them by the Vatican and at the time of the Reformation and the emergence of Protestantism in 1522, the forces of the Catholic Church found themselves facing the Teutonic Knights in battle.

The Priory of Sion

The origins of this shadowy organization are far from clear-cut, according to which information you have; it was either instituted following the demise of the Merovingian dynasty in the seventh century AD, or it has existed only from 956 as a natural successor to the Order of Sion which was founded in 1090AD. From the available information, it is more likely that the Order of Sion was the earliest of the organizations and does indeed date from the seventh century AD. The Priory was founded with one objective, to restore the Merovingian house to the throne of France and indeed the continent of Europe.


It is also suggested that the Priory was directly responsible for the existence of the Knights Templar whose military wing they are alleged to have been. The evidence suggests that in fact the Templars were in existence from 1115 and not 1118 as the official line decrees. The history books on the other hand tell us that The Order of Sion had it’s own abbeys, one on Mt. Sion in Palestine and others throughout the Holy Land. The abbey on Mt Sion was called ‘Notre Dame do Sion’ and was in use until 1291,when in common with other Christian and Crusader organizations and properties it was seized by the Muslims.


It is likely that there is a considerable overlap between both the Priory and the Order of Sion and to some extent they may have been interchangeable to the point of having the same grand masters, for the sake of clarity I will refer only to the Priory of Sion. Like it’s progeny, the Templars, the Priory had its Grand Masters too, they, amongst others included; Jean de St. Clair, Nicholas Flamel, Sandro Filipepi (better known as Botticelli), Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Fludd, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy, Jean Cocteau, and more recently, Pierre Plantard de Saint Clair.

Of these grand masters, it is obvious that there was a number of them favored strong scientific and alchemical school beliefs, it is known for example that Flamel, an alchemist, with the assistance of some Spanish rabbi’s, translated the text of the ‘Abra Melin’ ritual. This is the same ritual allegedly performed by the notorious occultist and magician Aliester Crowley at Boleskine House on the shores of Loch Ness. It was because of certain irregularities in the ritual that certain elementals were released into this plane creating the eerie reputation of the house and its surroundings.


The masters of the Priory all take the name Jean or John, which reflects their interest in the heretical belief in Johanism or the belief that John the Baptist and not Jesus Christ was the true messiah. This is also a feature of the Mandean heresy, which holds to the same belief. It also appears that the Masonic, Swiss ‘Grand Lodge Alpina’, the equivalent of Scottish or English Grand Lodges may have been a source of Priory members, there are also ties to the Italian P2 Lodge. It is important to realize that the P2 lodge is linked to both the CIA and the former KGB; it had its agents in high positions within both the Italian Government and the Vatican. It is also linked to the ultra-conservative Knights of Malta and Opus Dei (God's work) within the Vatican itself.

It is this apparent dichotomy that creates much confusion; Freemasonry and rightwing Catholicism, an apparent mismatch but it is not. There is considerable evidence that the Templars either created the Freemasons or if not created, then heavily influenced Masonic rituals and beliefs. Several Masonic rituals are specifically Templar, particularly relating to the Preceptory and other degrees. There are also influences suggesting Rosicrucian input in ceremonies using rose imagery where, as before, the rose symbolizes the hidden or secret. It is clear therefore that the Priory does indeed still wield a considerable amount of power and influence and is directly linked to a variety of esoteric and possibly occult organizations.

Other Priory documents allude to Le Serpent Rouge or the ‘Roseline’ which is a North/South meridian drawn through the Paris observatory. The meridian passes through villages Arques and Conques; which are significant in the history of the region, particularly to Cathar belief and tradition. If the Roseline is extended on a map, it passes through Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland as well. It is almost certain that the significance of this is spiritual, rather as ancient henges and sites of worship are usually close to ley lines. Although Lomas and Knight, authors of ‘The Hiram Key’ and ‘The Second Messiah’, attribute the name of Rosslyn to the Gaelic roots of Ros and Lyn representing ‘Knowledge through the ages,’ it is also possible that the name derives from ‘Roseline’. The significance of the rose, the ‘sub rosa’, is not accidental either. It has traditionally represented hidden and esoteric knowledge since the Middle Ages; the Rosicrucians exemplify this use and the Templars as well with their emblem of the cross pattee, in fact the entire mystery is awash with the rose or esoteric symbolism.


The Merovingian Dynasty


The involvement of this early French royal house cannot be understated and indeed appears to be the link between all the diverse factors. As far is known, the Merovingians descended from a Germanic tribe, the Sicambrians, who collectively were known as the Franks. This people who were also referred to as the ‘Long Haired Kings,’ and ‘The Sorcerer Kings’, bore classic tall, blond, Germanic looks, and from the fifth to the seventh centuries ruled parts of what is now Germany and France. According to tradition, one ‘Merovee’ sometimes referred to as Merovech, whose parentage is to say the least highly unusual, founded the dynasty, but as we shall see later this is not the only explanation. According to the attendant mythology he had two fathers, one was human enough, but the others was allegedly a sea creature, or at least amphibious; a ‘Quinotaur’. It was apparently from this heritage that the Merovingian reputation for the possessing supernatural abilities arose.

This claimed blending of human and non-human genes might well be a precursor of alleged alien/ human interfaces, inter-species breeding and harvesting fetuses. Nor is this the only extraterrestrial connection; there is speculation by Gerard de Sede author of the book ‘La Race Fabuleuse’ that there is a link between the Merovingians and the star Sirius. Although attributed with a range of magical abilities including clairvoyance, telepathy and remarkable longevity their main claim to fame was as healers. As previously mentioned, they also wore tasseled robes that allegedly bore miraculous curative powers. Interestingly they all bore a common physical characteristic, a birthmark resembling a cross, which was sited either between the shoulder blades, or in a strange link with the Templars, over the heart, this birthmark set them aside from other, less well-favored mortals.


Some of the esoteric customs attributed to them relate to their burial rituals, several Merovingian tombs have yielded such objects as tiny golden bees, a golden bulls head, and a crystal ball. The skulls of many of the monarchs and been ritually trepanned, a ritual reflecting the old belief that the soul resided in the head and correspondingly trepanning was designed to allow the spirit of the deceased easy passage to the afterlife. This belief still holds sway today among primitive cultures and is a common belief with former head-hunters, the Dayaks of Borneo. Perhaps the most extraordinary claim made for the Merovingian lineage relates to events that took place 2,000 years ago; there are many assertions that the Merovingians were descended from the blood of Jesus Christ and the woman he allegedly married, Mary Magdalene, we will return to this point later.

However, the link with Sirius is not solely confined to the Merovingians; we discover from two French anthropologists Graiule and Dieterlen, that in antiquity,
the Dogon tribe from Mali appear to have obtained knowledge of Sirius gained from an amphibious being named ‘Nommos’ who originated from the solar system surrounding the binary star. Aleister Crowley had his work ‘Liber Al’ dictated to him by an entity ‘Lam’ (whose portrait incidentally looks remarkably like a ‘Grey’), who originated from Sirius. Likewise, researcher Andrija Puharich channeled the ‘Ennead of Heliopolis’ who apparently originate from Sirius, via Uri Geller and other mediums. We also find reference to Sirius and amphibians in Sumerian teachings who refer to a deity named ‘Oannes’, there is also repeated mention of the number 50 which represents the orbital period of Sirius B and a dog headed entity representing the Dog Star, Sirius A.

The Enigma

It is at this point that we try to draw the disparate threads together, and as we shall see, there is evidently more than one mystery associated with the Rennes Valley. First, what was the significance of Fr Sauniere’s find? There have been assertions that it referred to various hoards of treasure amassed by alternatively the Merovingians, the Visigoths or the Cathars, even the lost treasure of the Knights Templar; while all this is possible, and would explain Sauniere’s sudden wealth it is the least likely. However, it is probable that the arcane references were related to spiritual knowledge affecting traditional Christian teaching and that of the Catholic Church in particular.


One interpretation concerns the Cathars once again, who had a strong presence in the area during the middle ages. The Cathars had aroused the ire of the Vatican because of their perceived heretical beliefs, which were based on the view that there were two ‘Gods,’ one purely spiritual and therefore ‘good’. The other was made flesh and therefore fallible, the ‘Rex Mundie’ or ‘God of the World’; based on this belief, the Cathars viewed the Roman Church with its reliance on ostentation, pomp and grandeur is inherently evil.

Although the Vatican suspected, rightly, that it was fast losing influence and power in the region, it did not launch the Albigensian Crusade until 1209 in a bloody offensive that lasted forty years. Immediately prior to the fall of the Cathar last redoubt, the mountain fortress of Montsegur, it is known that four men escaped by climbing down the mountainside and taking refuge in the warren of caves there. They carried with then an item of immense spiritual significance to the Cathars, it is speculated that this object was the Holy Grail itself; the cup used at catch the blood from the wound in Jesus Christ’s side.


Another version postulated by Dr Keith Laidler suggests that the fleeing Cathars may have had the mummified head of Jesus Christ with them; the same head that he claims lies beneath the Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn. While this theory is based on well-researched information, unless someone was in possession of specific knowledge, there is little chance of discovering whether the head is there or not because it would require the removal of the pillar, and there is no chance of this happening.

It is here that the connection with the Priory of Sion occurs, according to the seminal work, ‘The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail’; the Priory was formed with the express purpose of restoring the deposed Merovingian dynasty to the throne of France and indeed throughout Europe. This was also to be achieved by means of specially appointed ‘Rex Deus’ families, the Sinclair’s, the builders of Rosslyn Chapel were one such family.


The Knights Templar who were the Priory’s military wing searched for, and probably found both actual and spiritual treasures beneath the Temple of Solomon. What the treasures actually were is still hotly debated, but consensus suggests that they comprised a fortune in gold and artifacts etc and also the lost gospels of Jesus Christ. The Priory therefore would have had access to at least some of the spoils and documentation, certainly enough to finance any of its plans.

Either of these items would have financed Sauniere’s spending in and around Rennes-le-Chateau, but if the ‘treasure’ was information inimical to the Catholic Church, then it is likely that a great deal of ‘hush money’ was paid. What could the information have been, revelations concerning Jesus Christ; perhaps that he was merely mortal? Or that he had a twin brother? Even that he married Mary Magdalene and had a family?


This is not as ridiculous as might first appear. It is stated clearly in the bible that Jesus Christ was a rabbi or teacher, to be a rabbi a man had to be married; there was no option about this. Further, the wedding feast at Canaan may well have been a description of his wedding. It is also possible that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross and was spirited away with the Magdalene ending up in France, where, according to ‘The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail,’ his bloodline allegedly founded the Merovingian dynasty.


This then may be one secret of Rennes-le-Chateau the other is equally incredible. It has been suggested that within the Rennes valley is encoded a message left to us nine thousand years ago by the remnants of a lost race: the Atlanteans. Whether this is true or not is in my opinion not too important at this time, what is important is the message and not the writers. My own research using the services of a powerful psychic suggests that there may be a portal here, a gateway between worlds, between realities. In my opinion this part of the puzzle can only be solved is by the use of that talented and perceptive group of people, psychics.

The events leading up to this conclusion are remarkable, out of idle curiosity I asked Leslee Dru Browning, a talented shaman and psychic from Seattle in the USA what the name Rennes-le-Chateau meant to her; given that she had never before heard of the place, her response was astonishing and I include it verbatim below. The message came via e-mail and the words in bold are my reply to her: