Yet two coincidental news reports, one in German, the other in Catalan, the local language here, gave me no choice. Before leaving for this 1,100-year old marvel, which poets throughout Europe extolled for centuries, I read in the German media that the prosecutor of city of Trier was investigating acts of murder, rape and cannibalism, all allegedly committed in Satanist rituals.
Then, mouthing my way through Sàpiens, a Catalan-language historical journal, I learned that Heinrich Himmler, arguably the bloodiest Satanist of all times, showed up at Montserrat 63 years ago in search of the Holy Grail.
It may seem far-fetched to link the two reports, but it isn't. Himmler, the former Bavarian schoolmaster, and head of the SS -- which slaughtered 6 million Jews and countless others, including communists, homosexuals and Gypsies -- today ranks as a premier cult figure of the occult international.
Click your way through the gruesome Web sites of the devil-worshipers and likeminded groups, if you can bear it, and you will soon come across his pasty face marked by a pince-nez, a Hitler-type moustache and a fleeting double chin.
Years ago a highly educated New York woman who had freed herself from what she called "hereditary Satanism" -- hereditary because generations of her ancestors had adhered to this dark religion -- told me in an interview: "Himmler was forever invoked in our black masses and orgies."
Small wonder -- who else, other than Hitler himself, typified evil as much as the Reichfuehrer (national leader) of the dreaded black-shirts, who were by definition not just anti-Jewish but also anti-Christian, and whose ceremonies also included sexual excesses.
There is one aspect of Himmler's -- and Hitler's -- biography that makes both very attractive in contemporary Satanists' eyes, the New York woman explained. "Both committed suicide, the ultimate way of mocking God's sovereignty over all life."
It was eerie to sit in the monastery's splendid basilica listening to its fabled boys choir while reading how this oppressor of the Catholic Church in Germany came up here in a cable car on a strange mission.
He, a former Catholic-turned-worshiper of Wotan (Odin), the chief of all Germanic gods, showed no interest in this superb edifice, eyewitnesses reported. After an official visit to Franco's Spain in October 1940, he went to Montserrat believing it housed the legendary chalice --- the Holy Grail -- which for centuries has played a key role in the myths of esoteric sects in Europe -- and is continuing to do so until this very day.
The Grail is allegedly the vessel Christ used during his Last Supper.
According to another tradition, Joseph of Arimathea, collected Jesus' blood in this cup, took it to France, and afterwards to England. It is alleged to have then come back to France, where the Cathars became its custodians.
This sect of medieval Gnostics, who rejected Christianity's Jewish roots -- an idea that would appeal to Himmler centuries later -- are currently also en vogue in esoteric circles the world over, though only in memory.
Some Spiritistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries tried to revive this religion, which in the dualistic tradition of the Manicheans, a dangerous movement that early in church history almost destroyed orthodox Christianity, believed in two gods, a good one and a bad one. The good god created the spiritual realm, his bad counterpart the material world, which believers eschewed to the best of their ability.
Today, there is no neo-Cathar community. But many in southwestern France identify with their tradition. Cathar sites, such as the fortress of Montségur are among France's favorite tourist attractions. It was in Montségur that the grail was supposed to have been kept. Was it this mythological detail that had confused Himmler? Perhaps indirectly, by way of phonetic similarities.
In the 13th century, German troubadour Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote the poem, Parzival (Parsifal), which placed the chalice in a castle named Montsalvat. Six hundred years later Richard Wagner put this theme to music. His opera, Parsifal, was first performed in Beyreuth in 1882.
Wagner was the Nazis' favorite composer, and so while grooving to the tunes of Parsifal, Himmler may have concluded that Montsalvat was really Montserrat. This is why on Oct. 23, 1940 Himmler and 70 generals, colonels and other black-shirt officers filled the abbey's courtyard demanding where the grail was.
Some of the monks spoke German because they had been evacuated to the German abbey of Maria Laach during the Spanish civil war. Considering that the SS were persecuting their coreligionists in the Reich, it must have given them some wicked pleasure to send Himmler's goons on a wild goose-chase from one of the abbey's distant hermitages to the next, where they hinted the grail may or may not be hidden.
Before returning to Germany where he would soon commence the Holocaust, Himmler averred in his discussions with the Benedictines that Jesus was not a Jew at all but in truth an Aryan. "Himmler was uneducated," the Rev. Andreu Ripol, now 94, recalled in an interview with Sàpiens, the Catalan magazine.
So, it seems, are his soul-mates in the contemporary occult scene, who are littering the Internet with pornography and Nazi ideology because, like Himmler, they hate the God of Israel, whom all Christians worship -- the Catholics, the Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox.
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