Sant Pere de Rodes

(St Peter of Rhodes)

We have shown earlier under "Chrétien" that the French poet invented grail romance in the 12th century and created graal as the hidden key to his sources. According to Coromines, du Cange, the Oxford, et al. the word is derived from gradalis, a simple bowl or service dish, not a holy chalice. The earliest documented use of gradal was in Urgell (Spain) in the testaments (1010-1030 CE) of descendants of Guifré el Pelós who is celebrated as the founding father of Catalonia. This localization is supported by independent evidence: Nine Romanesque churches with paintings of fiery grails were discovered in the diocese of Urgell, which Chandler R. Post (1930), Otto Demus (1968), Christopher Dodwell (1993), and Joseph Goering (2005) connect directly to the grail mystery. Because they were painted half a century before Chrétien coined the word, he may have been inspired by Catalonia and its history, and if this conjecture is valid other allegories in the poem should confirm it.

 

             The Greek Connection

       According to Chrétien de Troyes, the Magic Sword is covered by a scabbard of ornate Venetian gold brocade and its hilt is decorated with Greek or Arabian ornaments. The "or" is an interesting ambiguity because Perceval receives the sword at the grail castle just before the virgin enters with a grail that emits so much light the candlelight in the castle "fades like the stars when Sun or Moon are rising". This validates both options and involves the macrocosm because the maiden behind her carries a silver plate.

             We followed the Arabesques to St Miquel de Cuixà, a monastery in the Pyrenees where the Mozarabic style is preserved by horseshoe arches, and found the gesta comitum Barcinonensium, a Latin chronicle with false information about Guifré el Pelós which the poet corrects with the help of the count of Flanders. Because Chrétien's poem ends before he could develop his cosmic symbolism we can turn to Wolfram's second opinion where the Greek and Arabian sources of the myth are clearly stated. His adaptation features Hesiod's phoenix myth according to Plutarch and an Arabic manuscript about the planets and constellations, which reveal the "hidden mysteries" of the grail. Wolfram's informant "the wise master Kyot" traced this tale in Latin books and only after he read the chronicles of many lands found the truth in "Anschouwe" which scholars interpret as Anjou [1]. 

            We will show below that the chronicle of St Pere de Rodes is as important as St Miquel de Cuixà to cover the ornaments of the sword's hilt. But the symbolism of its Venetian scabbard refers to the prologue were Chrétien praises Count Philip as worth more than Alexander, of whom so many good things are said, but who was really vicious and evil [2]. Because he reveals nothing else about the mystery man, scholars ignore the religious context of Chrétien's prologue and identify Alexander the Great who was also known for some deplorable deeds. However, it would make more sense if a sophisticated poet would choose a religious ambiguity and have his audience pick another man: pope Alexander III "the great" who had just died! We'll show with the legends of Montserrat that the scabbard refers to a cover-up by this pope after the famous "Peace of Venice" in 1177!

       Hence, the Greek ornaments on the hilt would be a clue to the Holy Grail itself. But could we be this close to a major discovery? We are indeed! Of course, it helps that Chrétien shows us where to look for another forged chronicle and that this writer spent a good part of his life there. It's a region in the Eastern Pyrenees where the ruins of Greek settlements mass like the virgins of Urgell, or like the planets we track with Kepler! The map (below) shows part of Alt Empordà during the era of count Hugo I (991-1040 CE) when gradal was first recorded in Urgell.

            The Caput Crucis (Cape of the Cross) on the map is almost a hundred miles from Urgell and at the North-Eastern tip of the Iberian peninsula where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean! You might ask how Latin names can help us with a Greek connection? It's quite kosher, really, because it's a Venetian cover-up and an Arabian key led to the first Latin chronicle. We're in a pluralistic environment! During the Moorish invasions from the South and the attacks by the Franks from the North, the Catalans gave refuge to the persecuted! But that's inside information for later when we deal with Bara the Traitor and Guillem de Gellone. For now, the Latin names are an important resource because the Greek origins are still recognizable. (Click on the map for a larger size and note the large lagoon!) There is even an ancient harbor with ruins of the Greek town Impurias (Empúries today) a few miles down the coast, at the bottom of the map at left, where the Greeks established their first colonies in the 7th century BCE. The Romans used Empúries in 218 BCE as the stage to launch their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which Ceasar Augustus completed two hundred years later. To get a better idea of the location you can take a virtual ride on a Paraglider to enjoy the map from the air! After 5 minutes, the pilot approaches the Cape of the Cross and the Catalan narrator introduces at 5:45 the monastery as "Monsalvat where the grail was guarded according its legends"! In addition to this surprise, the flight is a great exercise to prepare for a ride with the fabulous phoenix, which will follow on a higher level of our quest!   

            Master Chrétien taught us with graal how important etymologies are, and here is a refresher with names like Rhodes, Rodes, Roda, Rotas, and Roses that all derive from the Greek Ρόδος, Ródos. At the bottom of the cape is Rotas, facing South, which is named "Roses" today and by far the largest town. The fleet of large and noisy fishing boats that leave the harbor every morning is impressive! Facing North on the map is Armi Rodas, a Greek settlement which is "Port de la Selva" today, once a natural harbor and now a marina and popular tourist destination like nearby Lanciano (Llancà). Villa Judaica is "Vilajuïga" today – but the Jewish history of this little village has apparently been deleted. A paved road winds from there into the mountains and ends at about 600 meters (2000 feet) at Sancti Petri Rotas or "Sant Pere de Rodes", an abandoned Benedictine monastery, which has been partially restored. A little higher, on the crest of the mountain, are the ruins of the fortress Castrum Virdaria, of Latin roots, called "San Salvador" today. The narrow trail from the monastery to the top is worth the climb, because the 360 degree views are breathtaking and match Wolfram's descriptions! Far below it, on the coast, is Stagnum Castilioni, which turned into an enclosed lake (above left) over time, and to which the monastery had the fishing rights! It slowly turned into a swamp and swarms of  mosquitoes used to ruin the sommer vacation of German tourists who controlled the region after WW II. Their aggressive use of insecticides got rid of most birds as well, but the ecology has finally regained its equilibrium, even the tourism became more international. The hinterland is mostly agriculture, olive groves, and vineyards. Along the pristine, sandy beaches of the Gulf of Roses line up several villages, campgrounds, and tourist centers. Most noteworthy is "Sant Pere Pescador", and the largest is "Empuriabrava" with a fancy marina which replaced part of the swamp, a private airport, high-rise buildings, hotels, villas, shopping centers, and all kinds of restaurants. 

            Informed gourmets used to rate El Bulli as the best and most innovative restaurant in the world. It is interesting in view of the grail as a feeding dish – even if it's food for thought – that the region is celebrated for its culinary culture! It offers good cuisine everywhere, as long as we avoid some tourist centers and visit small towns like Llado or Mollet de Peralada. World famous El Bulli is in cluster of white buildings on the rocks of Cala Montjoi, a romantic cove at the left of Caput Onofreu, named after Saint Onofre. The buildings are low key as depicted on our photo, which is typical Catalan and quite different from what the average tourist might expect. The Cala Montjoi can be reached by an adventurous drive from Roses through the mountains, and easily by boat. Now that El Bulli is a school of culinary philosophy you can try the affordable fast-food Paellador restaurant on the beach! Outdoors, very rustic, and not bad at all when we visited in 2011. There is also a small, run-down tourist center on the beach and some villas in the pine-covered hills, but the cove is otherwise picturesque and fairly deserted. Much more impressive is nearby Kadaquers in the middle of the cape, known today as "Cadaques". (This is a sketch from 1980 by yours truly). The former harbor and fishing village is packed with tourists in the summer and used to be the magic kingdom of Salvador DaliHe held court on the patio of the "Hostal" while the locals were dancing Sardanas outside, and Thursdays on market day in Figueres at the "Astoria" on top of the Rambles, near the Dali Museum. Although Catalans don't seem to know the origins of the Sardanas,  their national circular dance, any fool can see the "Greek connection", especially if they saw "Zorba" when a Mexican played a Greek. The peasants on the painted tiles at right are wearing the traditional barretina and very often, the dancers are joined by dozens of other enthusiasts. When large groups of Catalans perform this ritual dance, they get so solemn that it seems their DNA remembers a ceremony from ancient times. In the 1970's, when this writer lived in Dali's enchanted realm, the Alt Empordà was still known by its Spanish name "Alto Ampurdan" because Catalan culture was prohibited during the Franco era. What makes the region unique for our quest is that many Catalan names and places remind of Wolfram's symbols and word constructions. That's why your gatekeeper spent a good part of his life there, searching like a fool for a grail castle! Yet ignoring for years a sign on  the highway from Figueres to Llancà in the 1970s, that advertised the ancient monastery "San Pedro de Roda"...

            Most of the Alt Empordà is flat like a tableau, and often under the spell of the Tramuntana, a fierce storm from the northwestern Pyrenees which connects to the French Mistral when it thunders down the Rhone valley. The locals say if it lasts longer than five days it will continue for five weeks and drive some people "mad like Dali". Under the influence, some Frenchman opened a Club Med at the stormy cape that didn't last long and is now a group of deserted buildings. (Yours truly hopes it wasn't Monsieur Blitz whom he remembers fondly from Antibes!) The Tramuntana is the reason why few houses in the Eastern Pyrenees have windows to the North, except of a small one to dry hams, butifaras and lomos in the winter, when the traditional Christmas pig is slaughtered. This writer had to hold one of the rear legs while it expired kosher style, which is another bloody medieval experience he'll never forget! This fierce windstorm does not only open the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, it is also featured in a romantic love letter of 30 lines in Wolfram's Parzival (P.715), which reveals how well the German poet knew the region:

mac wol dîner güete jehn

staete âne wenken sus

alz pôlus artanticus

gein dem tremuntâne stêt

der neweder von der stete gêt:

unser minne sol in triwen stên

und niht von ein ander gên.

I can see your warm feelings

are always without wavering

like the Antarctic pole

stands against the North Wind

and never wavers from its place:

Our love shall stand in such faith

and never move apart.

       Our literal translation destroys the poetic beauty of lines 14-20, but the meaning is at least preserved. The adaptation of Hatto [3] misses the point with the Antarctic Pole stands opposite the North Star. It weakens Wolfram's dynamic opposition and the hot-cold symbolism. Not to be confused with the Ultramontane, the Tramuntana comes from the North "trans" the mountains, attacking fiercely the warm South, and is only known at the Mediterranean. That it is featured in a love letter to symbolize the force of love localizes the grail castle, because of Venus-Aphrodite, as we will show below.

        Furthermore, it confirms that Wolfram supports Chrétien's etymological concept by identifying Catalonia: He names the grail castle: Munsalvaesche (also Monsalvasch, Montsalwatsche), located in Terre de Salvaesche. These neutral zones were known as Salvaterre, and a part of the Alt Empordà which was the most ancient of refuges. Locations like Selva de Mar, Port de la  Selva and San Salvador are derived from Latin like the Old French "Salvage", "Salvatje" or "Salvatge" in Catalan, meaning sauvage (wild) and salvationMont Verdera (Viridarium) means green mountain, and may explain why Wolfram's virgin carries the grail on a green pillow. "Mun" is Catalan vernacular for mountain, and "Munsalvatje" is pronounced "Munsalvatsch" in German, which is synonymous with "Wildenberg". Although some etymological examples need to be verified, probably with Otto Springer, it is a quick exercise to google words like Montsalvage-Monsalvatge-Monsalvatje, which are quite common in Catalonia – and entirely independent of Wolfram and grail romance!

      Wolfram's change to Munsalvaesche (ms D used by Lachmann) may contain a higher symbolism: The umlaut ae cleanses "salvatsch" with the German "wäsche" (washing, cleaning, purification), another leitmotiv of the final rites when the black & white Feirefiss (son of fire) is baptized before the grail (P.817). In view of our findings, this connects to the macrocosm of the watery and fiery triangles in the sky. Perfect timing to get help from the 2nd. century CE, which confirms the Magic Sword again: Claudius Ptolemy was a Greek who wrote the famous astronomical work Almagest, which is Latin for the Arabic الكتاب المجسطي, al-kitabu-l-mijisti, ( i.e. "The Great Book"). It was discovered in Toledo at the time of Chrétien, and translated from Arabic into Latin by Gerard of Cremona (ca. 1114-1187). A better translation was done later under the patronage of Frederick II  –  when Michael Scot was his astrologer! Although it served the Vatican to oppose the heliocentric concept of Copernicus, it could be the "discarded manuscript" Wolfram's Kyot had found in Toledo. For us, it is Chrétien's second invitation to "grasp" the hilt of the Magic Sword, because Ptolemy was also a celebrated cartographer. When we pursue the "Greek connection" at the above cape, this erudite Greek rewards us with sensational news: Right where the Pyrenees meet the Med, there existed long ago a famous Temple of Venus, wich was probably consecrated to the love goddess Aphrodite in Greek times. The Renaissance editions of Ptolemy's maps display only this temple in Europe, which suggests it could have been more important than the one in Rome. The collorized Bologna edition of 1477 includes it on the world map, like the Roma 1478 which has a larger image. Click on the detail at left and you'll see a larger picture in black & white! Below is the colorized German version (Ulm, 1486) which demonstrates the popularity of these maps in Europe. About a century before Ptolemy, the geographers Strabo and Pompius Mela had mentioned the temple in their works, and Pliny the Elder in Naturalia Historia, which is conclusive proof of its importance. In view of our quest, this could give us a plausible explanation why Wolfram decided to name the grail keepers templeisen. Most scholars interpret it as a reference to the Knights Templar, but these knights were under holy orders within the folds of the Roman Church when Wolfram worked on his poem, and the accusations of heresy a later fabrication. In view of such a spectacular confirmation of a "Greek connection", Chrétien's esoteric keys suggest that it should be a simple step to the grail itself.

           Our main informant is a lawyer in Catalonia Dr. Jeroni Pujades (1568 - ca.1650). His historical work, the Crónica universal is based on fourty years of research, but disappeared under mysterious circumstances for two centuries after the first part was published in 1609 – which would explain why his findings are overlooked by other historians. Another reason is, unfortunately, that Pujades disputes the official chronicles of the Church and dares to challenge a part of medieval history the Bollandists and Maurists have pretty much nailed down. If you like the pun and are interested in such a Baroque intrigue, click on The Pujades Affair! It offers the kind of drama Alexandre Dumas would have written, with characters like Richelieu, Colbert, Louis XIV, the archbishop of Paris – and a touch of Cervantes to make it more entertaining.

         If you can't read the "Coronica" (1609) in Catalan, or the "Crónica" (1831) in Spanish, here are the highlights of this amazing tale: In the early 1600s, Pujades visited the monastery Sant Pere de Rodes, where his son Dalmau was a Benedictine monk. He discovered a book of parchments, numbered 223, in the sacristy of the main church [4] with a record of its history. It contains a story that was probably as much of a shock for him as it is a joy for us, not because we lack compassion but because it resolves an age-old mystery. Click here for the original Catalan account from 1609, or check the Spanish text (below)  from his works, which were finally rediscovered and published in Barcelona in 1829-1832 [5]:

Año 603  I.  Paraque no pase tiempo sin decir alguna cosa de Cataluña en donde corresponden los sucesos : es de este lugar el referir que en aquel libro de S. Pedro de Rodas, que he dicho en el capítulo 16 del libro 4.° que es del órden del P. San Benito, se halla escrito: Que en el tiempo que Focas imperaba en el Oriente, y tenia la Sede Apostólica en Roma el papa Bonifacio cuarto, el Almirante de Babilonia viniendo de las partes ultramarinas con un poderoso ejército suyo, junto con otro de lo Persas, deliberó venir, y amenazó pasar contra Roma. Entendiendo el Romano Pontífice que los Caldéos desde an país querian venir á Roma para sujetarla y devastarla, y apoderarse de los cuerpos de los spóstoles San Pedro y San Pablo, y de otros Santos: convocó un concilio particular de los Pontífices que en aquella ocasion se hallaban en Roma, juntamente con los Príncipes y señores que en ella residian: y allí pro­puso el temor que tenia por el peligro en que estaba, pidiéndoles consejo sobre to que convendria hacer en aquella urgencia. Y que los Príncipes y patricios Romanos le respondieron acordes: que pues sabia que el enemigo comun queria venir á Roma para llevarse aquellos santos cuerpos, era conveniente, para no padecer tal oprobio, sacar de allí alguna parte del cuerpo del bienaventurado San Pedro apóstol: es a saber, la cabeza y el brazo derecho..., y un vaso, o ampolla de la sangre de la santa imágen de Cristo: y que el Papa con todo el clero las llevaron en procesion hasta ponerlas en una nave...  Entire text

       Anyone familiar with the rhetoric of Pujades will notice the first throw-away line after Año 603. By opening with "So that time shouldn't go by without saying something about Catalonia" he alerts his readers that something very important is about to follow. If you understand Spanish, you'll note the subtle, esoteric reference to Chrétien. If you follow the link, you'll notice Pujades points out that the views from the mountain reach all the way to Olot in the West. But only experts and locals, like yours truly, would know that the coastal town below is Llancà. Hence, the view reaches from Llancà to Olot in the distant mountains, from Lance to Olot – and we have Lancelot!  An etymological coincidence? Sure, Chrétien would have loved it! But let's not forget what we learned at St Michel de Cuixàthat Latin chronicles can't be trusted, even when they are penned by pious monks. Here's the summary, but we must remain very skeptical about what is claimed here:

In the year 603, the pope and the citizens of Rome fear an attack by the Babylonians and Persians, and after a private council decide to take their holiest relics to a hiding place in the West. Pujades quotes other historians to show that this decision made sense, except that they could not foresee Rome would be spared and Jerusalem attacked instead – and many relics "profaned" there, including the holy cross. The pope leads a procession with the relics to a ship and after the precious cargo is loaded it sails down the Tiber to the Mediterranean.

 

As the ship sails westward, the glory of God and a good wind from the South takes it to Armen Roda, a natural harbor at the Pyrenees where the men decide to rest for a few days. Under the guidance of the ecclesiastics Feliu, Pons and Epicino, they climb the mountains, enjoy the breathtaking views, and discover a cave near an artesian spring. It has a small altar inside because St Paul of Narbonne used it as a retreat in the first century. Impressed by the holiness of the place, the men decide to transfer the relics secretly to the cave. When this is accomplished, they conceal the opening and sail away.

 

They return after the calamity has passed and face another: New growth of wild plants has changed everything and they loose all sense of direction. After an extensive search they decide to remain and search for the cave until the end of their life. Their desperate efforts are understandable because the treasure included the most precious relics of Christianity:

The skull and right arm of St Peter

and a cup with the blood of Christ.

      Surprisingly, the naive tale about a "Ship of Fools" contains every basic ingredient of grail romance: There is the Holy Grail, which is in the “company” of St Peter the most venerated of fishermen. We have an hermit's cave near an artesian spring, which Wolfram features near the grail castle! And, above all, we meet some real fools with an elaborate "quest" on their hands!

             Long articles and even entire books have been written about the meaning of the "Fisherking" and the "Holy Grail", and many scholars would rather pull their hair out than accept such a simplistic solution for an age-old mystery. Never mind Occam's Razor! This would explain why this discovery didn't become a sensation in academic circles in 1609, and why none of the imaginative experts of the grail mystery have heard about it? Not even the authors of the best-seller "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", although their cult center Rennes-le-Château is only 60 miles to the north-west as the crow flies! Because Catalan is a fairly obscure language, the legend was published once more in Spanish in 1831, yet equally ignored by our scholars. Those of you who want to check this out should know that the editors of the Crónica didn't have access to the Spanish text at the BnF in Paris, and merely translated the Catalan version from 1609. In the revised manuscript (Esp. 118, tome II) at the BnF in Paris, which was never published, Pujades got more specific and started the second line with "un vaso, o ampolla de la Sangre de la Santa Imagen de Christo nuestro Senor..." This is quite a correction because "ampolla" is limited in Spanish to a bottle or decanter, an enclosed reliquary, but "vaso" is a subtle hint to the grail because it includes common vessels like glasses, bowls and "gralas". (The scan shows the "s" as it used to be written in many European languages like an f, see the above caso, vaso, Sangre, Christo, and nuestro.)

            This discovery is supported by the fact that it would be the second Latin chronicle, as suggested by Wolfram's Kyot and the symbolism of Chrétien's magic sword. Although Pujades relates the entire tale in Spanish, he gives his readers another important clue by quoting the original text about St Paul's altar which confirms that it is in Latin: "Et descendentes ab ipso monte, invenerunt fontem valde perspicuum, et ante ipsum montem invenerunt unam pulchriorem speluncam: et super ipsam unum parvum altare, quod beatus Paulus Narbonensis aedificaverat". In view of "Lancelot", the Latin quote is probably another hint by the historian that he was aware of the grail connection, but couldn't reveal it openly! The Spanish Inquisition was still active and nothing could be published without their stamp of approval.

         That the men searched 'until their death' reveals they had no success! Hence, the search continued during the next generation – and who knows for how many more?  According to Pujades, these men lived first in cells, or hermitages, a pious lifestyle Boniface IV had promoted. As the centuries passed, the cells grew to an abbey and monastery, high in the mountains above the Mediterranean. It was apparently not destroyed by the Moors and there is a tradition it had been visited by Charlemagne. In those times the "green mountain" was covered by a dense rain forest, which was cut down in the 16th century to build ships for the conquest of the New World. (This picture was taken in 2007 when most of the exterior had been restored. For scale, just compare the small automobile at left. Here is also a link in English for a brief introduction of the site!) However, we have to be skeptical for several reasons: Latin chronicles can't be trusted and there is the problem that Chrétien's grail is a platter or bowl, and Wolfram's lapsit exillis some kind of stone! To find the truth, we need to review the history and legends of Sant Pere de Rodes from different perspectives.

          For starters, the legend is great material for a Monty Python sketch: If Italian clergymen climb up and down these mountains for decades until they die of old age, intensely searching for something they can't find, the locals would have witnessed their strange behavior. Passing shepherds, hunters, or knights would have asked questions and the poor Italians had to respond somehow. Simple and naive, as most early Christians were, they could neither be dishonest nor reveal the truth, which didn't leave them many options. They would have admitted in Latin that they are looking for reliquiae insignes, some old bones, and a gradalis, a vessel without value. Instead of revealing a search for the bones of Petrus, they would have mentioned a fisherman, and when pressed, a very special fisherman. Those who asked the right question, one of compassion, were welcomed and invited to join the quest. After all, the Italians needed new blood, pun intended, disciples and servants who would work for them and continue after their death. Some of this lore was embellished in nearby villages, where the men had to beg or barter for food, and because some novices talked too much. Soon, rumors about an important fisherman made him the "rich fisher" and even a "Fisherking". 

             During decades, or centuries, the strange events at Sant Pere de Rodes and San Salvador would have been great stuff for passing minstrels, and some wrote it down. Who knows, they may have even named the cape "caput crucis" after the lost skull and crossbones? The seekers in the region between Roses and the Cape of the Cross were probably called for short Rosicrucians. The tiny village next to the monastery is obviously where the stone masons lived. It is named Santa Creu de Rodes or Holy Cross of Roses, which is difficult to dismiss as a coincidence in view of the esoteric theme.

           This is a good time to pay homage to Alexandre Deulofeu i Torres (1903-1978), an amateur historian and controversial philosopher in Figueres who provided the break-through for our grail study. He wrote the guide book for the monastery in 1970, when it was still in ruins, and introduces Pujades and the legend of the lost relics, from the skull and right arm of St Peter to the vessel with the blood of Christ. He even mentions the excavations of Peter's grave at the Vatican, that came up empty! In disregard of traditional scholarship he proposes also that the 'adoptionist heresy' of Bishop Felix of Urgell included iconoclasm and became one of the influences of the Cathar faith. Furthermore, Deulofeu developed an interesting theory about the «matemàtica de la història», a cyclical evolution of civilizations, which inspired our interest in the 854-year planetary cycles. He even proposed that Romanesque Art was born at Sant Pere de Rodes [6], which implies that the Freemasons originated there as well. The enlargement of his map identifies many famous churches and monasteries that were founded after Sant Pere and shows the routes of travelling stone masons. Because they cover Western Europe and Great Britain over a period of several centuries, we may finally have an explanation why they needed secret signals to recognize each other. Because the Rosiucrucians seem to have had their start on the 'green mountain' as well, they were probably the descendants of the original seekers and were accepted by the masons as spiritual guides.

      With so many grail symbols finally identified, we could ask why this article does not end here? Creative writers like Dan Brown and most filmmakers would wrap it up here and now! After all, we found the legends that started grail romance and why should it matter that the chronicle is forged? However, we have barely scratched the surface because the grail mystery goes much deeper if we are committed to the truth. For example, Pujades writes that the monastery was built over the cave, that the altar of the church was hiding the entry, and that he entered himself. But he doesn't say verbatim, only rhetorically, that the relics are there because they are listed in a later part of the chronicle:      

"Pasa mas adelante el dicho libro, y refiere que en aquel tiempo del papa Bonifacio cuarto, y del emperador Focas, fue construido aquel monasterio de San Pedro de Rodas: y que alli (debajo del altar mayor, como dije en el capitulo 16 del libro cuarto) reposan los cuerpos de San Pedro exorcista, hijo de San Pedro apóstol, de Santa Concordia, de San Lucidino y de San Moderando. De modo que la cueva que hoy está debajo del dicho altar, en la cual yo he entrado, seria la misma en que fueron puestas aquellas santas reliquias, por manos de Feliu, Pons y Epicino, que las trajeron de Roma. Y diciendose en aquel libro que cuando las trajeron estaban tambien con ellas las del apóstol San Pedro; el no decir que estan ahora, arguye que debió permitir nuestro Senor que en algun tiempo que se volviese a descubrir la cueva, y hallarse en ella las reliquias, dejarian alli las demas, y la cabeza y brazo de San Pedro lo volverian a Roma. Entendiendolo asi, no hallamos contrariedad en lo que sobre este particular dejamos aqui escrito, y lo que universalmente profesa la santa Iglesia catolica romana, diciendo que la cabeza del apostol San Pedro realmente esta en Roma, y alli se muestra junto con la de su socio y coapostol San Pablo. Y es muy posible que todo haya sucedido asi en diferentes tiempos"..

 Because Peter's relics are no longer mentioned Pujades "argues" that the Lord permitted the recovery of the cave at some later time. He "concludes" by conjecture that the above-mentioned relics were left behind and Peter's skull and arm returned to Rome, because "The Holy Roman Catholic Church proclaims universally that the skull of St Peter is really in Rome, where it is shown together with the skull of his partner and co-apostle St Paul..."  Hidden by his religious exaltation, which is also a signal, Pujades takes his rhetorical concept even further: He fails to mention that the later entry omits the blood-relic of Christ, as if it had no importance. Or, as if it had not occurred to him, an erudite humanist who also wrote poetry, that this relic is celebrated in Medieval literature as the Holy Grail. He adds another important clue in the last sentence: "It is very possible that everything happened like this in different times." (i.e. underlining added to match the Spanish!) If anyone had attacked this claim, which we'll explore with Robert's poem, he could have replied that he dated these events in 603 CE although most historian favor 608 (See note 5). And later, Pujades adds en passant that there are no records of Peter's relics having ever been returned to Rome – which he finds surprising because such an event would have been celebrated in all of Christendom.The discovery at Sant Pere de Rodes may have inspired Pujades to look for grail symbols at other monasteries in Catalonia, including Cuixà and Montserrat, where he is our key informant as well. Here's a interesting exercise with Google Earth:  Put a marker on Taüll, Cuixà and Monserrat and you'll get an equilateral triangle because they are almost 80 miles from each other! This inspires us to imagine that Chrétien de Troyes visited Sant Climent de Taüll and noticed the phallic symbolism of its tower, and then meditated in front of the altar and noticed St Mary's sealed lips and the red-hot flames above the bowl in her hand. A poet of his caliber could easily envision Plato's "mixing bowl of life" and the route "per-ce-val" of Val d'Aran to Cuixà and create a "Conte du Graal". Or he would turn 60 degrees to the right and visit Sant Pere de Rodes to explore the higher levels of the mystery! Perhaps, we'll find an esoteric Latin tract by Pujades about Mont Verdera, which inspired the Rosicrucian manifestos of the Germans, because the similarities are difficult to ignore. It was an era when scholars had no language barriers because they communicated in Latin, like Kepler and Galileo, for example. Although highly speculative, we can't exclude the possibility that Pujades was regarded by some initiates as the founder of their order. It would help us understand why Pujades was neither censured nor punished when his polemic debate of Peter's relics was published in 1609! Unless, of course, it took his foes 26 years to decode his esoteric concept and made him suffer the ultimate penalty in 1635.

This writer checked the cave under the altar in the late 1970's, when the monastery was still in ruins, and noticed that the entry looks like natural rock, but that some fine masonry cuts betray the scam: It is man-made! Later excavations and restorations opened to a small crypt with no signs of the cave, and which tourists can enter today. This is strong evidence that the cave was never found and exposes the inconvenient truth that this spectacular monastery was either built on lies, or the cover-up invented later. In a new twist, the cave is now suspected under the main tower, but according to a local legend, it leads all the way down to the Med, which further discredits the story of the lost relics. We'll have to wait and see what the archeologists are holding back and what they will be coming up with next. Let's keep Chrétien's clues in mind: The truth may be hidden under a Venetian sheath or scabbard. Did Alexander III use the "Peace of Venice" to have his monks rewrite history?

       Another unsolved riddle is the location of the Venus Temple the archeologists at Sant Pere de Rodes seem to ignore, but the guide book of 2002 has some news that debunks the Latin chronicle: "The most important of the areas awaiting exploration is the extreme east... The discontinued exploration of the area showed the perimeter of a large, rectangular building raised on large granite blocks. As explained, the only study carried out has shown that it's origin is previous to the 7th century." If relics were lost in a cave, which the poor fools had to search for until the end of their life, it was obviously not next to old ruins and an Artesian spring! It was merely the ideal location for a shelter during the search as it is hidden in a dense forest in the mountains.

According to Pierre de Marca, the green mountain with San Salvador was known as "Podium Veneris" in Roman times, which is Venus Mountain or Venusberg in German. Is this Wagner's link to Tannhäuser? We know that de Marca studied Mela's Chorographia, and Pliny's Naturalia Historia at a monastery in Lleida, a debate we need to postpone until we've had a chance to dismiss the Teutonic implications. Catalan historians describe the fortress as either Castell de Verdera or Sant Salvador. It is on the crest of Mount Verdera, at 670 meters (ca. 2200 ft), and inspired the name of Salvador Dali. The walls of the ruin at right are from the 13th century, but there are older foundations inside. The castle is mentioned in 904 CE as "castrum quod dicunt Verdaria", a corruption from Viridaria, although Pujades connects it to "verdad" (truth) as well. It was donated to the monastery in 973 by count Guifré of Roussilon and Empúries, after which he may have moved its residents to Urgell, which would explain the grail paintings, but "...Hugo I of Empúries took possession again, and pope Benedict VIII threatened excommunication... and the castle was abandoned by 1283..." [8] 

The impressive ruins are only visible since the 1990's because they were hidden by trees and bushes – until a couple of major fires opened the above perspective.  It is common knowledge among the locals that these fires are set by the shepherds to preserve open spaces for their herds. In the 1970's, when this writer lived in a village at the Muga river and had a clear view of this mountain from his living room, he kept searching for the grail castle elsewhere, like a fool. He never saw these walls, didn't even know San Salvador existed until he read in a German tourist guide, of all places, that according to a legend, the Holy Grail was once guarded at the monastery. When he visited Sant Pere de Rodes and read about Pujades in Deulofeu's guidebook, all pieces of the puzzle came finally together. Everywhere inside the church and at the corners of the main tower are large stone blocks which are different from the rest of the construction, as the photo at right demonstrates, even in the colored light. The archeologists would be well-advised to compare them with authentic Roman blocks, like those at left we photographed on a street in Rome! Although they remained outdoors for the past thousand years and have rounded corners, they are practically identical!

Wikipedias are not trustworthy because almost anyone can add a text, but it is curious that our conjecture from the early 1980s has finally some support from this version in English from 2015, where it is claimed "Columns and pillars have been taken from a former Roman building"! Another guidebook is also ahead of scholarship as you can read in "DK Eyewitness Travel: Barcelona and Catalonia", revised in 2008! That the columns are from the Venus Temple makes sense because they seem to be marked by the fierce Tramuntana like the rocks at the Cape of the Cross, which is inconsistent with their location inside the church. The photo from the 2002 guidebook at left shows that columns of different lengths were pieced together. The colorful light effects are removed for this scan in black & white to show how the weather had carved into the columns when they were still outdoors. Im fact, the Corinthian capital on the central column could also be from the temple, but that's something only an art historian can confirm. With such conclusive evidence about the pillars and columns, it is difficult to understand why Catalan archeologist are keeping quiet that the Venus temple has been found, even though it is established that Christian churches were often built on top of Pagan temples.

 The poet Wolfram, who describes the region in detail, must have stayed at the monastery or castle and noticed the temple's remains. At around 1200 CE, the stonemasons were still busy carving Romanesque capitals for the cloister, and would have told him that some pillars, columns and capitals from the temple had been recycled inside the church. They probably explained to him as well that the Corinthian foliage they adapted for their designs was a popular style for Roman temples.

 This seems to have inspired Wolfram to propose that the grail empowers the phoenix to rise from the ashes and to develop a hidden, numerological structure for his poem, which is based on the Greeks Hesiod and Plutarch. To secure the "Greek connection" with the many Greek names in the region, including the monastery, he refers to the grail knights as "templeisen" whose coat of arms depicts a "turtle-dove", which is also based on Plutarch who writes in De Isis et Osiris [9]:   

The Egyptians venerated the animals themselves,

while the Greeks use the correct expressions in these matters

and regard the dove as the sacred animal of Aphrodite.   

We are reminded of the above love letter where Wolfram mentions the Tramuntana, which makes the love theme additional evidence that he visited the site. Some sculptures from the love temple could have been used for the monastery [10], but little evidence remains. The monastery has been sacked and pillaged for centuries, and anything of value has been removed by bandits, treasure hunters and soldiers with hammers and chisels. Some fragments have been identified in museums around the world and collections in Catalonia. Only "Peter in the Ship" is still at the ruin, a relief with ancient carvings on the back, and two windows in the main tower with sculptures of a siren and a bearded man. Did Wolfram take them for Aphrodite and Aphroditos? The Corinthian theme and medieval foliage depicted on the capitals would explain why Ishtar-Aphrodite-Venus became a major theme in latter-day romance, from the vegetation cults to Venusberg variations. As said above, the Tramuntana opens the Chymical Wedding and in addition to the triangular "Tomb of Venus" where her son Cupid appears, there are "Three Temples" on the mountain top that form one of the many triangles this interesting tale features. If you understand German, here is an informative summary by the Anthroposophical Society!

The fortress San Salvador, the monastery Sant Pere, and the church Santa Helena are grouped in a triangle on top of Mount Verdera, high above the sea where the Temple of Venus used to be! The site is between the town of Roses and the Cape of the Cross, and the builders of the monastery lived in a nearby cluster of buildings called Santa Creu de Roses, which allows the conjecture that German visitors like Johann Valentin Andreae referred to them as "Rosicrucians" in the early 1600s. In addition to Wolfram, other poets may have visited the site as well and came up with creative ideas. Even the famous Celtic symbolism in grail romance could have originated in the region which was settled originally by the Celt-Iberians. Few outsiders know that the Pyrenees are packed with spectacular "dolmens" and "taulas" of pre-historic times! When you check Google Earth for the dimensions of the cloister, use the Geo view and click on the photographs near St Pere de Rodes of dolmens. You might also enjoy this paraglider which begins with impressive aerial views of the Greek ruins in Empúries and ends with some gutsy passes of the monastery! Here's another video from YouTube with aerial shots, close-shots of the fortifications, and interiors of the monastery!

For now, we have proof that the second Latin chronicle is not telling the truth either, because the cave was probably covered by a landslide. According to the latest information by Lorés et al., the mysterious structure is 25 x 7 m, in a North-South orientation, and from the "Roman era".  Its walls consist of large, rectangular blocks of granit and are different from the smaller, irregular stones of the monastery's construction. The first cloister from the 11th century lines up with the structure which was used as a dwelling until the end of the 17th century. What Lorés fails to mention is it could have been much larger if so many square stones and columns were removed, and that some of its foundations may still exist under the monastery Deulofeu claims to have seen. But she does point out that some kind of earth movement had caused a crack in the Southern wall of the Roman structure and exposed materials from the inside that could be dated from the 6th century, which suggests it is older. Various Roman fragments were found at the site as well, including one of Carrara marble with vegetation motifs from the 1st century CE [7]. This could be a reference to the agrarian cults and Venus symbolism we mentioned above, and might explain why so many capitals from the 10-12th century repeat this theme in Romanesque cloisters and churches in Catalonia.

This part of our article is currently being revised (April, 2016) because our latest archeological information is also from 2002 (Lorés et al.) when a few more details of the Roman structure became available. That its "original function" still defies any explanation except that "it's extraordinary strategic location" suggests it could be older than expected. Perhaps a flying allegorie of our era would be appropriate here, because if something walks and talks like a duck, what else could it be? Hence, what funtion could an isolated, rectacular structure on a mountain with tall columns have? It's unlikely an observation post for soldiers would be adorned with columns! Unless we find a publication by an archeologist that identifies the Roman temple, we have to assume that Catalan scholars are intimidated by some higher authority. Because they would have to conclude next that the temple was used as headquarters for the search of the cave which may have been lost in the fifth century after the sack of Rome. Unless, of course, they are trying to downplay their findings until they have dug up the cave themselves...

To get a better idea of the layout of the monastery, the guide book of 2002 identifies the structure at the far right of the plan under 18 "VI century or previous", which is the blue roof at the far right on our photo, which faces North. The archeologists write that Pujades mentions two large blocks of Italian marble that were used as altars, which are no longer extant. Based on his observations at the site, he had good reasons to propose that the events in the legend could have taken place at another time. In fact, most scholars would dismiss these legends if there is no external evidence to support them. We will show below that Peter's grave at the Vatican is empty and that remains were found nearby where the skull is missing! Because this is an established fact, published in an official report by the Vatican, the legend of Sant Pere de Rodes has surprising support!  

It would seem that Lorés distracted us from the temple by featuring the strategic location with the spectacular 360 degrees panorama of the Pyrenees and the large plateau of the Alt Empordà with the bay of Roses, including the harbor from where the Romans lauched the conquest of the Iberian peninsula. The photo at right shows a view from Mont Verdera of Port de la Selva, a popular tourist destination today, which was the natural harbor of the Greek settlement Armen Roda the legend had featured. Here is spectacular YouTube footage from a drone that circles around Mont Verdera! We can see Roses at the bay, several views of Port de la Selva, and a little of Llancà below. The wide-angle lens distorts the horizon and makes the ancient harbor Empúries at the end of the bay seem farther than it is. As this was recorded on a warm day shortly before sunset there is substantial haze in the West where Olot and the Pyrenees would be visible on clear days.

According to Pujades, the monastery was discussed during a Vatican council in the context of a "Matter of Britain" (grail romance?) which gave it special privileges of the "patrimony" of St Peter, matching those of Rome. Another source identifies the era of pope Urban II, who launched the Crusades, although Chrétien's symbolism implies a cover-up by pope Alexander III. Perfect timing in a way because the monks of Glastonbury claimed falsely in 1184 to have discovered the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere! But how would the legend of Sant Pere de Rodes fit into such a scheme?

The monastery was built when the relics cult was at its peak, when entire churches and cathedrals were built upon fragments of bones, and even foreskins. Its legend, however, is about Peter's entire skull and right arm, paired with a blood relic of Christ, which would be the most treasured relics of Christendom and far too holy for monks to simple make up! What they could have invented, which is also suggested by Pujades, is that the relics were not lost in 603 CE, but at an earlier time if we consider the Roman structure. If the chronicler changed merely the timing of the event, the relics could have been removed from Rome shortly before the Visigoths sacked the city in 410 CE. This way, the whole scenario would remain unchanged and the ship's voyage towards Hispania would make a lot more sense because Roman provinces were well-established and more secure than Rome at the time. What doesn't seem to fit in this version is that Peter's tomb would have remained empty for sixteen centuries! 

Hence, we will have to research the option that the relics were part of the booty! It would make sense that they were taken by the Visigoths during the sack of Rome, along with Galla Placida as insurance for their safety. Then the relics were hidden with part of the treasure in a cave at Mont Verdera, which may have been buried by the same earthquake or landslide that caused a crack in the Roman structure from before the 6th century [11]. In that case the Romans came to the Pyrenees to search for a lost cave they had only heard about – because someone else had hidden the relics! As nothing would change in our basic scenario – the imagined Monty Python sketch gets even funnier:

Churchmen came for centuries to search for the cave

because they really didn't know where it is!

This scenario makes the legend of Sant Pere de Rodes almost believable. It would explain why the search lasted for centuries and why funds were available to build such a large monastery. It could even involve Pietro I Orseolo (928–987), a powerful doge of Venice who may have come to the region to become a monk and search for treasure! Robert de Boron's estoire would become credible about three successive parties travelling to the farthest West. The first group of Alan warriors could have hidden the treasure, and not in Avalon, which is in the North, but in the valleys of Avaron, Catalonia. We must go per-ce-val to find it, which may be why Chrétien calls Perceval a Valois and Wolfram uses Waleise – because he went through a certain "valley" to reach his destination and destiny! This has confused many scholars who failed to consider the wordplay Val Avaron/Val Aran because Val d'Aran means "valley of valleys" and leads through the valleys with the fiery grails to the valley of Llancà. The second group is all about the Vatican and Petrus, but the seekers gave up the search when they realized that spiritual ideals are more valuable than material objects, which would identify Robert's third group. This means that the treasure was hidden at Mount Verdera and would explain why Robert suggests that the riddle of Petrus could reveal "what became of him, where he would be found again, and that he can only be rediscovered with great hardship!"  

If we review the above study of Sant Pere de Rodes, which has been stitched together and revised over decades, it becomes clear that Chretien based his grail castle on Sant Miquel de Cuixà and Wolfram on Sant Pere de Rodes [12]. We can also conclude that the cave with the relics has never been found and is covered by a landslide on or near this mountain. Scholars, who may have visited our site over time, got probably the idea to release inconclusive bits of information about the Roman structure, so they can claim they have said all along that the famous "Venus Temple" has been found! Until the cave has been recovered, they may be holding back most information to keep treasure hunters away because it is likely to have more that a few bones and a vessel.

Finally, we need to consider that the origins of the grail mystery have finally been identified and that we have reached important "crossroads", pun intended. You have the option to either research "material things" at the Vatican to find out if Peter's relics are missing and then review Robert's riddle to see if valuable artifacts from the Sack of Rome ended up in the lost cave or you can start from 'scratch', literally, to find out why Kepler illustrated the title page of De stella nova with a vignette of ten chicks scratching in the fertile dung of a farmyard? Could this relate to his claim there is a seed of truth or "golden corn" in superstitious beliefs?

    The choice is yours!

       Please send your questions and comments to: info@grailgate.com

 

BACK               GRAILGATE               NEXT

 

     Notes  

         1. We propose under Wolfram in Grail Riddles that it means "anschauen" in German, like "looking" at something.

          2. See prologue at end of article, lines 13-19.

         3. Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival, tr. A.T. Hatto, (New York, 1980), p.356 

         4.  Geronimo Pujades, Crònica Universal del Principado de Cataluña, (Barcelona, 1829), p. V

         5. Pujades, op. cit. Vol. IV, (Barcelona, 1831), pp.186-190.  Pope in 603 CE was Gregory the Great, who is not only remembered for Gregorian chants but also for promoting the relics cult. In fact, he had the tomb of St Peter reconstructed in the Constantine basilica, which indicates he wanted to take his skull and right arm to a safer place. At the time, Phocas murdered Emperor Maurice and the Persian king Chosroes II began war with Rome to allegedly avenge his death. Boniface IV was installed in 608 and Heraclius succeeded Phocas in 610. This would mean that the relics were hidden in that cave before 608. However, the Persians did not attack Rome, but moved toward Chalcedon (608), took Damascus (613) and finally Jerusalem (614). Pujades writes "Año 603", but when he said that all could have happened at a different time and when challenged by an Inquisitor, he could claim 603 is wrong because it was the era of pope Gregory. Here is an excerpt from Pujades to show he could claim 608: "Porque si leemos a Marco Antonio Sabelico, y a Platina en la vida de Bonifacio cuarto, hallaremos que a los ultimos dias del imperio de Focas, en el pontificado de Bonifacio cuarto, en el ano 608 de Cristo, segun Mateo Palmerin y Baronio, o en el de 611, segun Mariano Scoto y Pedro Mejia; Cosroas Rey de Persia tomo toda la Mesopotamia, parte de Siria, Armenia, y Capadocia , y la santa ciudad de Jerusalen : robando la santisima cruz de Cristo nuestro Senor, y otras reliquias, y profanando las cosas sagradas con tanta velocidad y prontitud...

         6.  Alexandre Deulofeu, El Ampurdán, cuna del arte románico, (Barcelona, 1962).   

         7.  Immaculada Lorés, El Monestir De Sant Pere De Rodes, (Barcelona, 2002), p.19-20: Here's the link in Catalan to Estructiones d'època més antiga: Dos murs paral-lels i molt regulars, construïts amb grans carreus rectangulars de granit que constructivament difereixen de la resta de construccions del monastir, delimiten un gran edifici rectangular, de 25 x 7 m, l'aparell del qual va fer pensar que es tractava d'una edificació d'epoca romana (Mataró i Pladelasala 1992: 35, Mataró et al. 1992-1993: 149; Burch et al. 1994: 166; Mataró i Riu i Barrera 1994: 81)... També es va poder comprovar de l'edifici estigué en ús com a mínim fins al segle XVII, moment en qué as va eixamplar cap a llevant, segurament a causa d'algun moviment de terra que ses va afectar i del qual encara en queda una esquerda en el mur sud. Els materials trobats en els dos estrats inferiors que recolzaven sobre la part interior dels murs s'han datat en el segle VI, la qual cosa informa que la cronologia de l'edifici ha de ser contemporània o anterior i, per tant, tardoromana (Llinàs et al. 1996: 272-273; Mataró i Pladelasala 1999), cosa que rectifica suposicions precedents a la intervenció d'una datació anterior (Mataró i Pladelasala 1992: 35; Mataró et al. 1992-1993: 149). Del que no se'n pot deduir res és de la seva funció original. De tota manera, la immillorable situatió estratègica de l'indret fa perfectament plausible suposar-hi un emplaçament antic.

        8.  Anna Perez i Mir, Catalunya romanica, 11., (Barcelona, 2000), pp.738-39.

        9.  Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, ed. J. Gwyn Griffith, (Wales, 1970), p.231

      10.   Deulofeu (see above, nr. 6) pp. 68-73

      11.  See Immaculada Lorés (see above, nr. 7), p. 20. A close examination with Google Earth Pro shows a number of landslides around Mont Verdera which could have covered the cave. 

      12. Our study of Chrétien concludes that he based the "Conte du Gral" on the Gesta comitum... and its hero Perceval on Guifré el Pelós. A comparison of his poem with Wolfram's adaptation shows that Chrétien used the monastery Eixalada (now Cuixà) as model of the grail castle, with the Fisherking fishing on a river because there is no lake. It is the river Tet, which destroyed the ancient monastery and required that Cuixà was rebuilt on higher grounds. Wolfram fuses Sant Pere de Rodes with the Roman temple and supports this by introducing Anfortas fishing on a lake to which the monastery had the fishing rights. The region was a Greek colony and the Greek name of the monastery allows him to expand  Chrétien's concept with the help of Plato and Plutarch and invoke Aphrodite and the phoenix myth.           

    

 

 

Copyright © 2010 by Grailgate