Time for a little more Holy Blood, Holy Grail:
We had already sketched a tentative hypothesis that proposed a bloodline descended from Jesus. We now began to enlarge on that hypothesis and—albeit still provisionally—to fill in a number of crucial details. As we did so, the overall picture began to gain both coherence and plausibility.
It seemed increasingly clear that Jesus was a priest-king—an aristocrat and legitimate claimant to the throne—embarking on an attempt to regain his rightful heritage. He himself would have been a native of Galilee, a traditional hotbed of opposition to the Roman regime, At the same time, he would have had numerous noble, rich, and influential supporters throughout Palestine, including the capital city of Jerusalem; and one of these supporters, a powerful member of the Sanhedrin, may also have been his kin. In the Jerusalem suburb of Bethany, moreover, was the home of either his wife or his wife's family; and here, on the eve of his triumphal entry into the capital, the aspiring priest-king resided. Here he established the center for his mystery cult. Here he augmented his following by performing ritual initiations, including that of his brother-in-law.
Such an aspiring priest-king would have generated powerful opposition in certain quarters—inevitably among the Roman administration and perhaps among entrenched Judaic interests represented by the Sadducees. One or both of these interests apparently contrived to thwart his bid for the throne. But in their attempt to exterminate him they were not as successful as they had hoped to be. For the priest-king would seem to have had friends in high places; and these friends, working in collusion with a corrupt, easily bribed Roman procurator, appear to have engineered a mock crucifixion—on private grounds, inaccessible to all but a select few. With the general populace kept at a convenient distance, an execution was then staged—in which a substitute took the priest-king's place on the cross or in which the priest-king himself did not actually die. Toward dusk—which would have further impeded visibility—a "body" was removed to an opportunely adjacent tomb, from which, a day or two later, it "miraculously" disappeared.
If our scenario was accurate, where did Jesus go then? So far as our hypothesis of a bloodline was concerned, the answer to that question did not particularly matter. According to certain Islamic and Indian legends he eventually died, at a ripe old age, somewhere in the east—in Kashmir, it is claimed most frequently. On the other hand, an Australian journalist has put forward an intriguing and persuasive argument that Jesus died at Masada when the fortress fell to the Romans in A.D. 74—by which time he would have been approaching his eightieth year.
According to the letter we received, the documents found hy Berenger Sauniere at Rennes-le-Chateau contained “incontrovertible proof” that Jesus was alive in A.D. 45, but there is no indication as to where. One likely possibility would be Egypt, specifically Alexandria—where, at about the same time, the sage Ormus is said to have created the Rose-Croix by amalgamating Christianity with earlier, pre-Christian mysteries. It has even been hinted that Jesus' mummified body may be concealed somewhere in the environs of Rennes-le-Chateau—which would explain the ciphered message in Sauniere's parchments "IL EST LA MORT" ("He is there dead.”). We are not prepared to assert that he accompanied his family to Marseilles. In fact, circumstances would argue against it. He might not have been in any condition to travel, and his presence would have constituted a threat to his relatives' safety. He may have deemed it more important to remain in the Holy Land—like his brother, Saint James—to pursue his objectives there. In short, we can offer no real suggestion about what became of him—any more than the Gospels themselves do.
For the purposes of our hypothesis, however, what happened to Jesus was of less importance than what happened to the holy family—and especially to his brother-in-law, his wife, and his children. If our scenario was correct, they, together with Joseph of Arimathea and certain others, were smuggled by ship from the Holy Land, And when they were set ashore at Marseilles, the Magdalen would indeed have brought the Sangraal—the "blood royal," the scion of the house of David—into France.