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Beautiful church holds grisly discovery

By Catholic Online
December 22nd, 2010
Catholic Online (

A beautiful medieval church believed to have been built in the year 1400, lies atop a hill in the picturesque town of Saint-Bonnet-le-Château. The Collegiate Church of Saint-Bonnet is rich in local history, and in the 19th century people there discovered a most macabre secret.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The church contains a number of collections such as a library, a collection of ancient religious ornaments and numerous murals from the 1400-1500s. It wasn\'t until 1837 that people there realized the castle held a very special - and secret "treasure."

For all of its tranquil beauty, the church and town has survived quite a bit of turmoil. Surviving both the Hundred Years War, and the plague -- said to be saved by the eponymous St. Bonnet, the town perhaps lived through its worst scourge from a single man, the Baron of Adrets.

A Protestant leader, the Baron of Adrets seized the city in 1562 and began a systematic campaign of burning, pillaging, arson and murder, leaving a trail of bodies behind. Many of these bodies ended up in the basement of the Collegiate Church of Saint-Bonnet. During the Revolution of 1789, most of the church tombs were pillaged and the bodies destroyed.

The church assumed it had lost its collection of murdered nobles - but this proved to be false. During rehabilitation work in 1837, one of the 22 vaults under the flagstones of the collegiate church was opened up.

Beneath the flagstones, 30 well-preserved corpses were uncovered. Though treated by the church as a small miracle, it is believed that the bodies' excellent state of preservation was due to the presence of alum and arsenic in the ground.

Dated from the 1400s-1500s, their cause of death remains a mystery. While it is possible they were victims of the plague or the War of religion - and some say they were buried alive, though this is almost certainly untrue -- the current favored idea is that they were a family of nobles, evident from some cloth left on the bodies, murdered by the terrible Baron of Adrets.

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