by Robert Richardson

from Alpheus Website



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.

This article is published on Alpheus with the kind permission of the author and will be included in a new edition of his book The Unknown Treasure.

With the international success of the bestselling novel The DaVinci Code, esoteric subjects have been enthusiastically received by a large audience. But that audience does not realize information about the "Priory of Sion" presented in The DaVinci Code as "fact" is a fraud. Nor do the readers realize why that fraud was created and the reason why its existence has been maintained. Those who have embraced the novel’s subject matter will be shocked to find by believing The DaVinci Code claim that the "Priory of Sion" and its fabrications are real, they are embracing the hate and fear filled mindset of religious fanatics. The following pages are the first serious attempt to explain the secret "why" of the "Priory of Sion" fraud and the real goals its animators are trying to achieve.

Every person is the product of their environment and their experiences, and the traits exhibited by the so-called "Priory of Sion" are the products of intellectual constructs and life experiences from a particular period carried onward by the "Priory of Sion" founders and by its adherents. It is valuable to review the often-overlooked recurring themes at the foundation of the fabrications promulgated by the "Priory of Sion." Those recurring themes are more mundane than mystical:

  • It is extraordinarily Franco-centric. From the point of view of those behind the "Priory of Sion," France is the center of all key events which have shaped Western history.

  • It is intensely Catholic. The Catholic Church is a major player in the "Priory" playbook. A sub-theme is its portrayal of a recurring struggle for control of the church itself.

  • Names of modern Catholic Ultra-Traditionalists are alleged as associates, supporters, and key members of the "Priory of Sion" and select Catholic Ultra-Traditionalist organizations are alleged to be, or proudly proclaimed as, predecessors or implied fronts for the "Priory of Sion". (An Ultra-Traditionalist Catholic may be defined as someone who desires a return to a Catholic Church with pre-1960 institutions but more influence in spiritual, political, and personal affairs than in the past.)

  • European politics appear repeatedly, but in relation to the Roman church.

  • Monarchical restoration.

  • Esoteric and Masonic allusions appear like a set in a play, a backdrop to the other five recurring themes.

Through these recurring themes we will come to see the "why" of the "Priory of Sion."

While the tumultuous French cultural events of the 19th century raged - the constantly changing government and roles of royalty and the Catholic Church, the visible rise of esoteric studies as a cultural force in France, and the smothering atmosphere of the industrial revolution - one more critical change was fast evolving. The role of the Catholic Church throughout Europe was in astonishingly sudden transition, and that transition was a decline in power and in influence. Everything seemed to assail the Roman church in a sustained onslaught. In Italy, it was stripped of its role as a true landed state and of its worldly political influence. In its place, new democratic forces and a new societal order arose. The spiritual influence and temporal wealth and power of the French Catholic Church were castrated. In every old Catholic stronghold, once inconceivable governmental restrictions altered the traditional role of the church.


Throughout Europe a generation of scholars employing new methods of academic inquiry were questioning and rewriting the very foundations of belief on which the Papal throne and church power had been constructed. As a response, the doctrine of Papal infallibility was created, and asserted, but it was laughed at. Even the fearsome power of the Inquisition, so recently the scourge of Europe and the ruthless enforcer of Papal will, withered rapidly and became a paper ghost. As a series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary were reported across France in the 19th century from Lourdes to La Salette, the power and influence of the church was crumbling in its own hands. No one seemed to realize this was the real end of the Middle Ages. The ancient institutions were finally confronted with the inevitable reality of time and change.

But many conservatives among prelates and the devout could not accept this change. For them, the church was the only legitimate source of worldly power. Men were lost without its authority. They could not accept that the structures of the Middle Ages had come to the end of their time. For almost 2,000 years, the Church had maintained its power and influence. It had outlasted dynasties and nations. How could such a fall from power and grace happen to the elect of God? How could the world have turned against them so suddenly? The only answer could be hidden adversaries. And those adversaries were readily found. Freemasonry had become a publicly visible influence in Europe. Masons actively worked to lessen the power of Royalty, the Church’s traditional ally. Masonry advocated equality and freedom of religions, equal rights for all social classes, and the separation of church and state.


Masonic lodges supported the rise of constitutional democracies - whose spokesmen and elected officials often happened to be Freemasons. Freemasons were successful in the new, rising commercial class. Freemasons supported the publication of esoteric books such as the H.P. Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled, and The Secret Doctrine. All these things were anathematic to the Church’s sense of the right order of the universe. It was evident that Masonry was a tool of the Devil. Masonry was the archenemy of the church. And the more open Masonry became, the more other esoteric societies seemed to appear from hiding. And then, there were always the Jews.

In 1877, H.P. Blavatsky published Isis Unveiled. The New York World described it as,

"an extremely readable and exhaustive essay upon the paramount importance of re-establishing the Hermetic Philosophy in a world which blindly believes it has outgrown it".

The opening words of the author’s preface confirmed the worst fears of the Catholic Traditionalists by stating,

"The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science... It is an attempt to aid the student to detect the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old."

Not only were the philosophical systems of old examined, but they introduced the books’ wide readership to what Blavatsky claimed were Hidden Masters guiding the destiny of humanity.


Unfortunately, none of the Hidden Masters proved to be Catholic. Rather inconveniently, they all seemed to be from Somewhere In The Far East. To compound matters, when Blavatsky published The Secret Doctrine in 1888, her preface emphasized that while her work might be appear to be Eastern, it was not about any religion, but rather about the truths which under girded all faiths.

Blavatsky’s books symbolized the new ideas and heretofore seemingly hidden wisdom that created a cultural explosion and found a receptive and long-suppressed lay audience. For years the complacency and authoritarian power of the Catholic Church had inbred corruption, and abuses had worn on its lay people like a yoke. Periodic internal efforts to reform it were met with opposition. Of more concern to the church was the priest who strayed from the official church position. They were subject to harsh internal punishments. Orders sprang up inside the church to fight its external enemies but also to police its own. In 17th century France, a group called the Compagnie du Saint Sacrement arose. A genuine secret society, its real aims were understood by no one and it seemed to frighten just about everyone, from the church to the state.


Eventually it was disbanded, to the relief of all. It has been accurately described as "a bastion of rigidly entrenched and fanatical orthodoxy" that "devoted itself to weeding out heretics".(1) It was a precedent as much intellectually and spiritually as physically for the groups which would fight to restore the Roman church’s traditional role in midst and aftermath of the chaos that the 19th century created for the Catholic church. Centuries later the "Priory of Sion" would make references to the Compagnie du Saint Sacrement and regard itself as its heir.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the ardently faithful, in particular Royalist Catholics and some members of the priesthood, fought back fiercely against what they perceived as worldly depredations against the rightful position and prerogatives of monarchy and the church. In Rome, in the heart of the Vatican itself, a secret society called Sodalitum Pianum was formed under the direction of Monsignor Umberto Benigni. Benigni sacrificed his rising clerical career and his future role in the Society for the Propagation of the Faith to found and run Sodalitium Pianum. The basic function of Sodalitum Pianum was to gather information for key Curia officials - the Vatican administration - and for the Pope on what was actually happening inside the Church. It received its support from several influential Cardinals and from the defender of traditional Church privileges, Pope Pius X.

Sodalitum Pianum was for all intents and purposes a secret police force. Its job was to fight the challenge posed by Modernism to the traditional church teachings. Internally, it would make rebellious priests march to the dictums of the church hierarchy, and it hunted to uncover any sources of internal heresy. It was founded in 1909 and terminated in 1914, when Pius died. But it was reborn in 1915 and continued until 1921, when it was formally disbanded. Despite formal cessation of its activities, the heritage of Sodalitum Pianum would continue. As Sodalitum Pianum waged its battle from Rome, in France another Catholic secret society thrived. It had appeared some thirty-six years earlier. The roots and the ideas of the latter day "Priory of Sion" come directly from this group, the Hiéron du Val d’Or.

The Force Behind the "Priory of Sion"

In 1873, the very curious organization called Hiéron de Val d’Or was founded. It made its base near the Catholic shrine at Paray-le-Monial. Here, two centuries earlier, the mystic St. Marguerite-Marie Alacoque beheld visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, beginning the Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart. Paray-le-Monial had a long history within the Catholic Church. The first of several monastery facilities, a Benedictine abbey, was established there as early as 973. Later, the area seemed to foster Protestants, and in 1618 the Jesuits were called upon to save the faithful from the usurpers. The Jesuits had remained at Paray-le-Monial ever since and the Sacred Heart became the paramount devotional symbol for the Jesuit Order, which was consecrated to the Sacred Heart in 1872. (2)



Paray-le-Monial was an important point on the Jesuit compass and at least one member of the Society of Jesus would become a key founder of the Hiéron du Val d’Or. At Paray-le-Monial the Hiéron du Val d’Or built a museum and research center in 1877 and housed itself in a pentagonal building reflecting the Hiéron’s interest in geometry and sacred architecture. Long established as a Catholic pilgrimage site, from 1873 onwards Paray-le-Monial began to attract more visitors. Thousands Catholics from all walks of life journeyed to Paray-le-Monial in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, hoping to stem the changes of the times. The Hiéron du Val d’Or deliberately targeted these pilgrims as its potential recruits.

Victor Drevon, a Jesuit priest, and a nobleman from Spain, the Baron Alexis Sarachaga, were the two key founders of the Hiéron. In 1854, Drevon, then 34 years old, established the Association of the Communion of Reparation in the ancient monastery and Jesuit base at Paray-le-Monial with the purpose of atonement, or reconciliation, of man and God through the mediation of Jesus. For his part, the wealthy Baron Sarachaga was a devoted but esoterically oriented Catholic. His family linage claimed the famed mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, and he was a personal friend of the besieged Pope Pius IX and his successor Leo XIII.


Drevon brought the focus and discipline of the Jesuits to the Hiéron, and Sarachaga brought his wealth, his influential Vatican and social connections, and his odd Catholic/esoteric orientation, which the Hiéron proclaimed as esoteric Christianity, or Christian Hermeticism. As the spiritual head of the Hiéron and titular head of its church approved school, the Insititut des Fastes ("Fastes" refers to Roman calendar church feast days), Sarachaga would dedicate the last forty years of his life to the Hiéron, until his death in 1918. It would be become a forge in which the shock troops of the anti-Masonic and anti-occultist Catholic Ultra-Traditionalists would be molded and it would reflect Sarachaga’s eclectic ideas.

The Hiéron du Val d’Or focused on propagating a very Catholic focused worldview, born in the church-challenged circumstances of the times, encompassing the occult and the monarchy, and a return to worldly glory for the church. It countered occultist’s claims of a universal tradition. To the Hiéron, the only universal tradition was a Catholic Christianity, which was, like Atlantis, lost, and which must be rediscovered. The Hiéron version of Christianity traced directly back to an idealized vision of Atlantis via the Celts, Judaism, and Egypt. Christianity, according to the Hiéron, originated in Atlantis and was itself the universal tradition. Atlantis, the legendary lost civilization at the root of humanity became, to the members of the Hiéron, an idealized vision of the world as it should be, and a code word embracing every aspect of their vision. As proof of this heritage, the Hiéron revealed to its adherents the name Aor-Agni (Light-Fire), that it claimed opened the secrets of all knowledge of the universe, as taught in its school.

As important to the Hiéron and its members as rediscovering its version of the lost Catholic heritage by preserving Celtic sacred sites, and by studying symbolism, astrology, and a peculiarly Catholic Kabbalah, was the heritage of the future. The Hiéron was obsessed with preparing for the year 2000. That was when the golden time would come - an absolute monarch would rule Europe and, eventually, the world. The Great King, the worldly reign of Christ the King. And the Vatican would be supreme again, together with this King. The Pope and the King would rule by fiat over a United States of Europe. Their dictums would be absolutely obeyed.


Behind them would stand a secret elite, powers behind the throne in the service of Christ, "eminences grises from whom the great of this world seek counsel." - as the latter-day "Priory" would try to depict itself. (3) The Hiéron wanted, as onetime Plantard associate and later adversary Jean-Luc Chaumeil wrote,

"a theocracy, wherein nations would be no more than provinces, their leaders but proconsuls in the service of a global government consisting of secret elitists. For Europe the regime of the Great King implied a double hegemony of the papacy and the Empire... . . "(4).

And the devoted members of the Hiéron were dedicated, willing to sacrifice and work to achieve these goals.

The Hiéron had another purpose, a secret one. It secretly and forcefully advocated that Masonry was an anti-Christian movement requiring reformation. A secret and sacred war must be fought against Freemasonry by the church and its phalange, the Hiéron, a war which would give birth to a new and "Christian Freemasonry of the Great West" (5), or the "Occident". For Catholic Ultra-Traditionalists, the Grand Lodge of French Masons and claims for an ancient common spiritual primacy in books like Blavatsky’s would be replaced by a "Grand Occident Lodge" and the spiritual primacy of Catholic Christianity. "Occident", too, grew to become a key password for the prolonged and intense activities of the Hiéron’s Catholic vanguard to supplant Freemasonry with an Ultra-Traditionalist Catholic creation. By overcoming the threat of occultists with a creation which proved Catholic supremacy, they would bring Masons and occultists back into the fold of the Catholic church.

Great effort was made to clearly differentiate the teachings of the Hiéron from those of other esotericists and especially Freemasons. For the Hiéron and its followers, Masonry had become corrupt. The corruption could be clearly traced and even dated. Freemasonry had once been noble. But the influence of the English had become too strong in the late 18th century. The English branch had been corrupted because it was dominated by Protestants. The Germans, too had become corrupted, and this corruption eventually spread to French Masonry. The corruption was caused by the Illuminati of Bavaria - which had been led by a Jew! They had corrupted Masonry and the French Revolution. To Hiéron acolytes, the French Revolution was originated by the nobility and the church who, because of their higher consciousness, deemed it necessary to help their lesser evolved citizenry by graciously and voluntarily surrendering all their privileges and powers.


But the revolution became twisted and violent because of the influence of corrupt elements of Illuminati-dominated Masonry. Masonry had, in fact, became a Jewish/Protestant tool which overthrew the Catholic Church and the nobility in France and laid virtual siege to the Vatican itself. Any claims of a descent of Freemasonry from the Templars were merely proof of its corruption, because the Templars, too, had lost their way. But their positive principles survived and were now embodied in the "Occidental Masonry" advocated by the Hiéron. And so Freemasonry became a hated symbol, a target which had to be reformed and replaced by intentional and covert actions of the elite troops and superior Catholic Hermeticists dispatched by the Hiéron du Val d’Or.

But common pilgrims were not the only recruits sought by the Hiéron. To realize its goals, the Hiéron needed to attract an elite. And it did, drawing to it royalty and the wealthy and many artistic and intellectual notables. A very prominent intellectual drawn to the odd esoteric spiritual recipe of the Hiéron was Louis Charbonneau-Lessay, a well-born Catholic author and former priest. Charbonneau-Lessay was widely known and acclaimed in scholarly, religious, and esoteric circles for his research and writings on the use of symbols in medieval Catholic times. His major work on this subject, The Bestiary of Christ, is still in print today. Charbonneau-Lessay actively sought esoteric knowledge. From his studies he had concluded that the Templars held a secret and special knowledge and he was drawn to contact several secret societies and to the Hiéron school to search for it.

When Drevon had died in 1880, Sarachaga increased his already potent influence in the Hiéron and his ideas dominated it for 38 more years. The activities of the Hiéron were encouraged and its practices which seemed to conflict with Catholicism were protected by Sarachaga’s friends Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII. When Pius X became Pope in 1903, the conflict between the church and state in France was so intense that the Vatican needed Sarachaga and his devoted followers more than ever. In 1903 the French church became subject to state overview and in 1905 the Law of Separation in France nullified Napolean’s old agreement with the church.


The church lost its property and revenue in France, while by 1907 on the spiritual and intellectual front Pius X was so besieged by Modernism that he wrote a Papal Encyclical against it. With the passing of Pius in 1914 and the beginning of the First World War, the French Catholic Church was pushed further away from its traditional prominence in French life. And in 1917, six mystical visions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, spoke of a new threat to the church from Russia, and a mysterious Catholic end-times prophecy. All these factors emphasized the need among Traditionalist Catholics for a reformation of the Masonic-Jewish forces that to their view were behind the devastating blows to church and royalty.

From 1910 throughout the turbulent time when First World War raged, the symbolism of the Sacred Heart and related symbols and spiritual aspects progressively gained prominence in Catholic intellectual and religious circles. The monarchist Abbé Felix Anizan had been focused on this subject since 1909. In 1921, after the death of Baron Sarachaga, Abbé Anizan started a journal called Regnabit ("He will reign"), Revue Universelle du Sacre-Coeur, funded by a bequest from Sarachaga and supported by a number of high ranking clerics. Its name referred to a prominent Hiéron theme, the Kingdom of Christ coming at the end of the Millennium. In 1922, at the request of Archbishop Louis-Ernest Dubois of Paris, Charbonneau-Lessay began to write for Regnabit, increasing his involvement and interest in the work at the Hiéron.

René Guénon also came into prolonged contact with the Hiéron at this time through Charbonneau-Lessay, whose knowledge he wanted to share, and through their mutual association with the anti-Masonic magazine, La France anti-maconnique. And another figure who at the same time began moving visibly into the orbit of the Hiéron was Paul Le Cour. Years later La Cour would be alleged in "Priory " publications as a friend of "Priory" creator Pierre Plantard. In November of 1923, Le Cour began an intense period of contact with the Hiéron du Val d’Or through Jeanne Lepine-Authelain, an aging Hiéron founding member.

In 1918, with the death of Sarachaga, three administrators headed the daily affairs of the Hiéron, Gabriel de Noaillat, Mathe Devuns, and their associate, Jeanne Lepine-Authelain. Absent Sarachaga’s powerful influence, internal church forces critical of the practices and philosophy of the Hiéron began to politic against it in church circles. As a defensive measure the administrators increasingly moved the Hiéron into more conventional Catholic circles. In 1925, the Hiéron triumphantly received formal recognition from the Vatican for the creation of the Feast of Christ the King. But by February 1926, the three aging lay administrators passed away. With Abbé Felix Anizan under mounting pressure from church officials in France and in the Vatican to moderate its practices, and no full-time administrators to run its affairs, the Hiéron lost control of its facilities at Paray-le-Monial. The Hiéron disappeared.

But while it may have disappeared as a physical entity, the Hiéron’s ideals continued without abatement. Its work was carried on by those who adhered to Sarachaga’s original principles. In 1926, Le Cour quickly founded a group called Societe d’Etudies Atlanteennes and its successor "Atlantis" in 1927, to carry on the ideas of the Hiéron. Also in 1927, at the age of 56, Le Cour began to write books and publish a magazine trumpeting key Hiéron and Sarachaga themes on Atlantis, astrology, and other metaphysical subjects. His last book was published in 1955, after his death, and just before the "Priory of Sion" was born. Le Cour was regarded by the adherents of the Hiéron as the spiritual heir to Baron Sarachaga, a leadership transition symbolized by a particular Sarachaga ring Jeanne Lepine-Authelain left to him.

In fact, the groundwork for this transition had been laid in the contentious years after Sarachaga’s passing. During its last few years, the Hiéron was a hotbed of conflicting esoteric topics molded in the vision of Ultra-Traditionalist Catholicism. The esoteric intellectual and spiritual intensity of the atmosphere at Paray-le-Monial is witnessed by the presence of Charbonneau-Lessay and Rene Guenon, who were drawn to the topics it studied. The rapid founding by Le Cour, within four months after the loss of the Hiéron facilities, of a well subscribed successor society to carry on the ideas of the Hiéron, and Le Cour’s publication in 1927 of his first book perpetuating the key points of Sarachaga’s philosophy, speaks more of a determined plan to continue the spirit and principles of the Hiéron than an independent impulse. Le Cour’s organization still exists today, with some 3,000 members.

In 1922, as the future Hiéron program was being conceived, Georges "Count Israel" Monti created an esoteric society called the Groupe occidental d’etudes esoteriques. Two unique characteristics of this group clarify in light of the history and goals of the Hiéron du Val d’Or and they foreshadow the principles behind the later formation of the "Priory of Sion" and its wartime incarnation, Alpha Galates. Those two characteristics are the specific goal of reconciling esoteric orders with the Catholic Church, and claiming a fictional affiliation with occultist Alister Crowley. Claiming a fictional affiliation - in short, lying - would later be raised to a new level by the "Priory of Sion." But for a religious fanatic, the end always justifies the means. For Monti’s group, its highly contradictory cover story served well for the real purpose of Groupe occidental d’etudes esoteriques: acting in the esoteric world to implement Hiéron ideals to reform Masonry from within and reorient it under the firm direction of Catholicism.

It is most likely that Monti was affiliated both directly and spiritually with the Hiéron and that he was acting on its behalf. His long affiliation with the devoutly Catholic Josephine Péladan as his secretary and the goals of Péladan’s Order Rose-Croix Catholique of the Temple and the Grail, founded in 1891 to reveal the mysteries and prepare for the coming of Christ are also perfectly in keeping with the goals of the Hiéron. The Jesuit educated Monti moved in overlapping circles with Paul Le Cour. Their mutual interests seem to coincide - a study of Anthroposophy; an interest in its predecessor, Theosophy; an affiliation with Péladan’s Order of the Rose-Croix Catholique; and very strong anti-Semitism.


Another important and revealing similarity is an emphasis on political activity and reformation of the body politic. If, as is advanced in this hypotheses, Monti was acting on behalf of and in concert with the progeny of the Hiéron, his documented breathless insistence on meeting important people and being associated with secret political operations are in keeping with activities the Hiéron would seek out to reform the influence of Masonry. All these activities would be necessary to win control of Masonry and then use its presumed influence to prepare for the coming kingdom in the year 2000.

The word "occidental" would later became a password into the paradigm of the "Priory of Sion." It means the West, and specifically Western Europe. It is the differentiator of the split in French Masonry. The Lodges which were aligned with the tradition of French Masonry were called "Orient". The lodges aligned with Catholic Traditionalists and which sought to bring Masonry under the rule of Vatican Catholicism were called "Occident." A Masonic reconciliation with the church was one of the goals of the Hiéron du Val d’Or, and of Monti’s group. The Hiéron saw the future world run by a group of elitists - their members. This is exactly the elitist role sought by George Monti for himself, and it is how the successor organizations, Alpha Galates, and later the "Priory of Sion," would strive to position their image.

As a conscious and deliberate front for the work of Hiéron adherents in implementing its goals of reforming Masonry and reconciling it with the Catholic Church, the leader of Groupe occidental d’etudes esoteriques would not be inaccurately described by the Grand Lodge as a trafficker in information and, given the Jesuit presence at Paray-le-Monial and Jesuit involvement in the Hiéron formation and activities, a Jesuit agent. In 1936, one year after his close friend and associate Dr. Camille Savoire severed his association with the Grand Orient Lodge and one month after he was publicly so described by the Grand Lodge, Georges Monti would die under mysterious circumstances and Groupe occidental d’etudes esoteriques would disappear. Sixty years later, the "Priory of Sion" would allege Camille Savoire to have been one of its key members.

The next small person who would become enamored with the ideals emanating from the world of the Hiéron would be sixteen when George Monti died. He, too, would very soon become the front man for groups carrying forward the cause of the Hiéron, a cause he himself would come to adopt. And he, too, would come to a sad end. His name was Pierre Plantard.

The Education of Pierre Plantard

His father was a butler, killed in an accident while Pierre Plantard was still young, but in middle age he would allege his father was a member of the nobility. His mother, a sometime cook for the wealthy, would support him well into adulthood on a small pension received from his father’s accident. He was an unsuccessful student, not advancing beyond primary school to higher or trade education, unemployed, drifting, his only brief job as the sexton of St Louis d’Antin parish in Paris.

In 1936, when Pierre Plantard, the future founder of the "Priory of Sion," was sixteen, for the French right and some devout Catholics a horrific event took place - a Jewish socialist, Leon Blum became French prime minister. Both his faith and his political orientation mobilized these groups against Blum. In 1937, the young and poorly educated Pierre Plantard suddenly became precociously politically active when he tried to found an organization called "The French Union" and to distribute a periodical "The Renewal of France." His co-officers in The French Union were very close to his own youth: Simone Gabrielle Brue, and Andre Bergerand, both also born in 1920; and a secretary, France Brubius, was three years older. (6) In that same year, Paul Le Cour would publish a work on astrology, "The Era of Aquarius," containing future predictions colored by his dedicated Hiéron-focus.

In 1938, Plantard published and distributed for free "French Renewal" a pamphlet with a circulation a 10,000. It was printed by Poirer Murat, who later would print another publication ostensibly for Plantard. Now 18, Plantard was also active with Groupement Catholique de la Jeunesse, a Catholic youth group. Supposedly he was involved in its formation. By 1939 he was speaking to small gatherings sponsored by this group, which arranged free holidays for young people. In 1940 Plantard was writing directly to Marshall Pétain, leader of the Nazi Collaborationist government at Vichy, warning of a Masonic-Jewish plot. In 1941, French authorities denied Plantard his application to found an organization called "French National Renewal".


According to a 1941 police report, (7) Plantard was unemployed and supported by his mother. They had lived together for fourteen years in two sublet rooms, which were former maids’ quarters. But in 1942, Alpha Galates, an organization headed in name by Plantard and alleging a substantial membership, made its appearance, with its first issue of Vaincre, an ardently pro-Vichy periodical featuring articles by a number of prominent rightists on superficial esoteric, and extreme right-wing political themes. Illustrated and produced on good quality stock, it, too, was printed by Poirer Murat.

Where did the money come from to fund all these activities?

Obviously it did not come from Plantard or his mother. By 1942, he was 22 and still unemployed. He had a minimum of formal education. Most of the police reports about his activities from this wartime period when political activity was investigated dismiss him as an eccentric. But a 1945 police report on Alpha Galates, provides an insight in its list of the officers theoretically serving with Plantard on its leadership committee. They were:

  • Jacques Theureau, Alpha Galates vice president, an actor living with his parents and one year younger than Plantard

  • Suzanne Libre, its secretary, two years younger than Plantard, and living with her parents while studying acting

  • Jules Tisser, the Treasurer of Alpha Galates. He was 24 years older than Plantard, a childless WWI veteran employed as the chief accountant at a manufacturing firm (8)

The dreary police report is oblivious to Jules Tisser. He is like an invisible man. Accountants sometimes are. But it is an odd circumstance that a man old enough to be Plantard’s father and holding a responsible position would be associated with a group of young people in a chimerical organization. And that he would gladly submit to the leadership of its illustrious chief, Plantard, who police reports saw as an "odd young man" (9) and a "deranged individual" (10). Wartime France was a difficult economic period. Why would a chief accountant - a very good job in a time of high unemployment - risk his position by involvement in the enterprise of Alpha Galates if it were just the immature work of a few politically impassioned but confused young people?

But if a group of determined adults impassioned about its religious concepts being implemented in society were promoting a young front man to send its message and spending scarce funds on free publications, they would want one of their numbers involved to watch the puppets. And to count the money. Someone like an older and very experienced accountant.

The unemployed, devoutly Catholic Pierre Plantard was a front man for older people dedicated to the concepts of the Hiéron du Val d’ Or. He did not have the money to pay for and distribute multiple runs of 10,000 copies for his first publication, nor for the 1300 to 4500 free copies claimed by the six issues of the illustrated Vaincre. Nor did a young man of 22 - even an unemployed one with a lot of time on his hands - have the knowledge to write all the Vaincre articles by himself nor to understand obscure esoteric references in some Vaincre articles. But older men who adhered to the concepts of the Hiéron du Val d’Or did.

In the first issue of Vaincre is a particularly interesting illustration that reveals the real sources for this publication and the puppet masters behind it. It shows a solitary horseman in Celtic dress carrying a flag and riding into a distant sunrise, which reads "1946" and is labeled with the symbol of Aquarius - the time of the coming of the Great Monarch. Either side of the road he rides is labeled "Bavaria" and "Brittany". The start of the road is labeled "1937". On the rider’s flag is a symbol called the Cross of the South. And the road he rides is labeled "United States of the Occident."

It is debatable whether young Pierre Plantard could have created this illustration. It sums up too neatly the philosophy of the real animators behind Alpha Galates. "Occident," or West, is a term closely associated with Ultra-Traditionalist Catholic efforts to reform Masonry into alignment with the Catholic Church. A United States of the West is the vision of a western European super government under the hegemony of France. It is the vision of Hiéron du Val d’Or. A Celtic rider affirms the Hiéron emphasis on its ties to Celtic traditions.

The Cross of the South is in keeping with the Hiéron’s interest in simbology: a cross with a heart is a specifically Hiéron symbol, and the Cross of the South relates to another Hiéron interest, a Catholic oriented astrology. In 1942, few people would have knowledge of the meaning of this symbol, or of its existence unless they were well steeped in the teachings of the Hiéron du Val d’Or. Young Pierre Plantard would not have known the workings these concepts. As a front man, he would have sat admiring and obedient at the feet of men who helped mold the effort to see the ideals of the Hiéron become reality.

Several other factors confirm that this illustration, Alpha Galates, and its front man Pierre Plantard were creatures of Hiéron acolytes. Young Plantard was involved with Catholic youth groups and was said to be the leader of one which provided free vacations for Catholic youth. In 1920, the Jesuits formed the Catholic Scouts youth group and, later, the Catholic Rover Scouts to inculcate young people with proper religious and political values. At the same time, Abbé Felix Anizan of the Hiéron formed a youth group to recruit young people to the Hiéron, a group referred to by Paul Le Cour in his 1920’s writings as a force to be used in helping to bring Hiéron policies to a future reality.


The youth group with which the young Pierre Plantard was associated was modeled along these lines. Alpha Galates, by its constitution, was anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic, confirming the presence of Hiéron values. Like key people associated with Hiéron ideals, Plantard would be repeatedly confirmed by police reports as anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic. (11) By coincidence, both of Plantard’s publishing ventures involved the same printer. And while the later well-known Robert Amadou may have claimed to discontinue his work with Alpha Galates, he was associated with, and published in, Le Cour’s journal Atlantis.

In the issues of Alpha Galates’ Vaincre, Robert Amadou and Pierre Plantard echoed the philosophy of the Hiéron. As Amadou would write for Vaincre, Chivalry (meaning traditional non-Masonic Orders ) belonged,

" ...not in opposition to the Church, but within the heart of it" (12)

Plantard, or someone writing under his pseudonym of Pierre de France, would take the neo-fascism of the Hiéron and the French far right to an extreme by proclaiming,

"I want Hitler’s Germany to know that every obstacle to our own plans does harm to him also, for this is the resistance put up by Masonry that is undermining German might." (13)

Like Amadou, he would write of the new face the Hiéron followers saw for the esoteric orders that foreshadowed the "Priory of Sion" hoax:

" . . . what happened after the disappearance of [the last Templar Grand Master] Jacques De Molay will no longer hamper our progress since from now on the orders will be kept in existence."(14)

Last is astrology. It figured in the world of the Hiéron du Val d’Or and more prominently in the post 1926 expressions of its teaching. Paul Le Cour was an important figure in the development of French astrology in the twentieth century. Of his eleven books, his most revised and reprinted work was "L’Ere du Verseau" ("The Era of Aquarius"). It was first published in 1937 using different astrological processional calculations than those in vogue at the Hiéron base at Paray-le-Monial. Le Cour announced his calculations saw the beginning of a key period in 1937- 1946. This was the period which Alpha Galates, the front for the followers of the Hiéron and predecessor of the "Priory of Sion," specifically indicated by the dates in the illustration in their publication, Vaincre. Le Cour himself is specifically referenced in the same first issue of Vaincre as Paul Lecourt, a punctuation closer to his real name, Paul Lecour.

The activities of this group faded in the last years of the war. Soon the older leaders passed on. But Plantard and others dedicated to their secret, carried on their ideas. In 1947, Paul Le Cour and writers sharing the Hiéron philosophy called for the creation of a new order of knighthood, and in 1947 Plantard formed a new group for the purpose of "historical research," The Latin Academy. In 1956, following the death of Paul Le Cour, Plantard legally formed the "Priory of Sion".

In the 1950’s Plantard began to appear at the old Celtic religious site of Rennes-le-Chateau, researching the background that would create the "Priory of Sion" fiction. Gradually both fictional documents and new editions of "Priory" publications appeared. These "Priory documents" reproduce the positions of Alpha Galates and the Hiéron, including calls for a United States of Europe. These are a clear indication that the "Priory of Sion" program issues from the Hiéron principles. It shows that Plantard and the followers of his generation of Hiéron acolytes had no interest in new ideals. Plantard tried to relink with his earlier associates and successfully joined with Philippe Chérisey, who he had first met in 1938.


Other "Priory" articles would tie Plantard with names of people from the wartime years, key people associated with perpetuating Hiéron goals. Their citation affirms the presence of the Hiéron du Val d’Or in its cadet operation, the "Priory of Sion." These articles, written by Plantard’s first wife, associated Plantard reverentially with Georges "Count Israel" Monti, Paul LeCour, and one "Th. Moreux." (Abbé Theophilus Moreux, a Jesuit, was a noted astronomer who wrote a book on Atlantis. He was imprisoned in Frenes prison for his resistance activities in 1943.). In 1962-65, the activities of the "Priory" shifted into a higher gear as its sought to capitalize on publicity from the Gisors affair and began to deposit fabricated documents in libraries, postdating them to the prior decade.

One example, which also illustrates how the Hiéron descended "Priory" saw esoteric groups as a threat and sought to control them in a manner similar to the original Hiéron, is a fabricated document giving the fictitious "Priory" Grand Master the title of Jean 23rd. This title does not refer to the Catholic Pope, John XXIII. Limited information appeared in esoteric circles in the 1960’s about a small but genuine esoteric group whose Grand Master bore that title.


Using this name is an attempt by the "Priory" to blend its identity with the real organization to achieve what esoteric groups call "authority." It shows how the "Priory" reacted to esoteric activities posing a perceived threat to its goals. The fiction of the Templars being subservient to an ancient "Priory" was also conceived at this time to counter the revival, with which the real group was associated, of interest in the Templars. And, at the same time, the "Priory" begin to associate itself with a new generation of Ultra-Traditionalist Catholics, who held positions similar to Hiéron ideals.

On October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII inaugurated the Second Vatican Council, promising its result would "shake the heavens and the earth." For parts of the Catholic world, it did just that. John’s successor, Pope Paul, expanded the College of Cardinals, forced mandatory retirements, reformed church practices and teachings, and endorsed the council decision to hold mass in the vernacular. This tidal wave of change increased "Priory of Sion" activity. When internal critics of the church reforms spoke out in open rebellion, the "Priory of Sion" claimed them as its members. It specifically alleged as one of its own a prominent critic of Vatican reform and an advocate for a return to the church governance of the past that resembled the vision of the Hiéron, Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre.

Lefebvre, who had a political predisposition to vocally supporting repressive dictatorships, urged a return to the Tridentine (Latin) mass and an end to Vatican council reforms. He soon formed his own seminary and ordained his own priests, in violation of Vatican rules. Lefebvre christened his opposition organization the Sacred Society of Pius X (SSPX) in honor of the turn of the century Pope who condemned Modernism and instituted the Soldatum Pienum. For Lefevbre, this was the model for the Church. His stance agreed with the end-times scenario the Hiéron adherents saw rapidly approaching.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, Plantard and his "Priory" rode a wave of publicity from inaccurate and fanciful books about the Rennes-le-Chateau affair, which would become the basis for The DaVinci Code. The "Priory" continued to wave as its banner the themes of the Hiéron du Val d’Or: the "Priory" as the ultimate authoritative esoteric body representing a universal tradition that spans western history; and the Grand Monarch, a coming of the Christ embodied in their fantasy of the bloodline descended from Jesus. As researchers Bernardo Sanchez da Motta and Peter O’Reilly have shown, Hiéron du Val d’Or originated documents and symbols reappeared on documents used to allege a pedigree and a secret heritage for the "Priory of Sion" hoax. (15) That hoax would be treated as fact by the author of The DaVinci Code and its falsehoods perpetuated in his novel.

Plantard supposedly resigned from the "Priory of Sion" in 1984, but in 1989 reappeared to revive it. The reason for this attempted return was because an important French astrologer claimed 1989 would be a key year for world political events. That made urgent the need to position Hiéron ideals for the year 2000, a year the Hiéron saw as the worldly return of Christ, the monarchy, and Church hegemony. Instead 2000 was a year when Pierre Plantard would pass away, he and his "Priory of Sion" having been exposed in 1989 by a French judge as a fraud. Yet with the passing of Plantard, still others have stepped forward to attempt to carry on the myth of the "Priory of Sion". But why would they continue this fiction?

The purpose of the "Priory of Sion" begins in an adherence to the original fanatical, self-deluding precepts set forward by the Hiéron du Val d’Or. Most specifically, the mission of the "Priory" is to crush Freemasonry and esoteric groups by replacing them with an Ultra-Traditionalist version. To aid that process, they have created, in occultist Anne Osmont’s description of Monti’s goal, an "illusory society." Its purpose is to superimpose over Masonry and esoteric orders an allegedly esoteric super-society via a fabricated ancient lineage and claims to spiritual primacy or "authority."


In the minds of those who to this day adhere to the programs of the Hiéron du Val d’Or, this will bring Masonic and esoteric groups under control of the Catholic Church, paving the way for the Hiéron fantasy of the return of Christ as a worldly ruler rushing in a restoration of Catholic Traditionalism, monarchy, and Vatican power. Working to create the realization of this fantasy is the secret purpose of the "Priory of Sion" and the reason for its existence.

But this secret bears in it a tragedy of multiple meaning. For over a hundred years, Masonry and Judaism have endured attacks and terrible distortions of the truth by Hiéron deluded fanatics. Now, because the immensely successful novel The DaVinci Code presents as fact a "Priory of Sion" which propagates the mad dreams of the Hiéron du Val d’Or, a wide public has been exposed to a twisted version of esoteric ideas that many may mistake for reality. Instead of leading people to Christian ideals, the "Priory of Sion" has led them away.


The end result will be as Anne Osmont wrote of Monti’s group "to destroy all which is dear and precious" to staunch Catholics and esotericists alike. The lesson from the "Priory of Sion" secret is an ancient one. It is in having the integrity to find and follow one’s own beliefs. For if we allow fanatical minds like those behind a Hiéron du Val d’Or or a "Priory of Sion" to define for us the form and meaning of our beliefs, then we quickly become captive to the twisted terrain created by those minds.


(1) Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln. Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Delacorte Press. New York. 1982, p.148.
(2) Malachi Martin, The Jesuits. The Linden Press/Simon & Schuster. New York. 1987, p. 218. Also see p.209.
(3) Baigent et. al. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, p. 196, quoting an article in Priory publication Circuit.
(4) Baigent et. al. Holy Blood, Holy Grail. p. 172, quoting Jean-Luc Chaumeil, Le Trésor du triangle d’or. Paris. 1979, p. 139 ff.
(5) Pier Luigi Zoccatelli. "Notes on an unpublished correspondence between René Guénon and Louis Charbonneau-Lassay" A paper presented at CENSUR 99 conference, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, 1999. p.3.
(6) May 9, 1941 police report.
(7) Ibid. Also see February 8, 1941 police report.
(8) February 13, 1945 police report.
(9) Ibid.
(10) January 3, 1943 police report.
(11) June 6, 1946 and May 9, 1941 police reports.
(12) Robert Amadou, "The Place of Chilvary" Vaincre. October 21,1942. It references the work of Paul Le Cour.
(13) Pierre de France-Plantard. "27 December 1942" Vaincre. January 21, 1943.
(14) Ibid.
(15) Peter O’Reilly. "More on Paul Le Cour, The Hiéron and the Priory" The Rennes Observer. June 2001, pp.18-20. Bernardo Sanchez da Motta, "Pilhagem a Paul Lecour"