There is no evidence that Marie Denarnaud was ever anything more than a devout employee. She spent her entire adult life working for Berenger Saunier as her mother had done before her for him and his predecessor. These people lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone's business, any hint of scandal concerning the local priest or his employees and friends would have been a significant event for the local inhabitants, the letters concerning the graveyard is a good example. If there was any evidence of any inappropriate behaviour by any of them we would know by now, letters exist, in the early days when the village became famous there were still locals alive from there generation.
I agree there's no evidence, and yet a presumed relationship between the two tends now to get cited almost as a given, which it isn't, at all.
I think some of the anecdotal examples given of this, seemingly suggesting such a relationship, such as the letters from Prouilhe Monastery in which Sauniere refers to Marie as "ma petite Marinette" and so on, could be evidence of nothing more than paternalistic affection and a long and enduring aquaintance between the two.
As could the Etienne Delmas testimony (Mayor of RLC, 1935 to 1968, and one of the priest's choir boys) in which he speaks of Sauniere regularly awaiting Marie's return from the factory when she worked there; and of him putting cherries picked from the local trees by her ears like little red, dangling earrings. A sweet and affectionate thing to do, but hardly a smoking gun in attempting to show they might have been lovers.
And yet ... I'd still be more inclined than not to suppose that there was more to their relationship, but only because I find it hard to believe that two people of the opposite sex could live together for all those years, and spend so much time in each other's company, and not succumb to natural temptation. I think most attraction tends to be born of proximity. And Sauniere wasn't exactly an ascetic type of priest, was he? We know that from the way he lived. But maybe I think that because I find the idea of priestly abstinence so absurd, and I'm mistakenly transposing my non-religious modern-day sensibilities onto the situation. Obviously, what I see as completely natural, may not have been seen as such by a priest in 19th century Razes. So I'm merely speculating.
there was no scandal as such, just village gossip, certainly nothing to complain to the Bishop about Marie and Sauniere. The grave desecration is a different matter and the villagers did complain about that so it stands to reason that any other indiscretions would also have been forwarded to the Bishop.
I understand what you're saying, but I'd have to wonder if such a thing would typically get spoken of, at least formally, in part because it might be deemed so sinful and unmentionable, and also because I'd imagine quite a lot of it went on, and may have been known about but not spoken of.
Anyway, I don't suppose we'll ever know the truth of it, one way or the other.
On a similar theme, I was told that the reason that the waxwork figure next to that of Sauniere in the presbytery today is of Alexandrine, the mother, and not Marie, is because the former mayor of RLC, whose name escapes me, took grave exception to the notion that there might have been anything going on between Sauniere and Marie, and so insisted upon the figure being that of Alexandrine. Although the fact that she did live in the presbytery, along with the rest of the family, means that there is nothing inaccurate about this as a tableau, at all. I just mention it as a side issue.