Who exactly was le Comte de Saint-Germain, this never-aging man of mystery who left us so few clues behind? We know he was an 18th century alchemist, composer, diplomat, raconteur, and spy. He was handsome and wealthy, impressing gentlemen and turning the heads of ladies. But how could he hobnob about all European capitals throughout the 1700’s and Never appear to grow old? Count Saint Germain looked the same age in London in 1743 as he did in St. Petersburg in 1762 as he did Paris in 1789. Was he a clever Charlatan, a skilled Alchemist, or perhaps … something more? The answer lies in which theory and which source you choose to trust.
He used a French title in Saint-Germain, but admitted he was not French, and never revealed his true identity. To confuse matters more, the Count employed other aliases throughout the 18th century to remain incognito. This should not cast undo suspicion upon him. Many aristocrats traveled under assumed names to avoid unwanted attention, whether to hide affairs of the state, or of the heart. Add to that, the Count was comfortably wealthy, though no one could even figure out from where it came. He was handsome and charming, and moved about the courts of Europe with ease. He associated with the likes of France’s Voltaire and, Madame de Pompadour, and Russia’s Catherine the Great.
So let’s review the 10 best Count Saint Germain theories – the Wild, the Wonderful … and the Weird:
- WANDERING JEW – Some believe him to be Cartaphilus, the legendary Wandering Jew. Cartaphilus was a Roman guard of the High Priest Caiaphas in Jerusalem in the year 33 AD. He slapped and mocked Jesus of Nazareth on the way to his crucifixion at Golgatha on Good Friday. The soldier was therefore cursed by the heavens to never die and walk the earth alone till the end of days, and Jesus’ second coming.
- MERLIN – Others think he was no less than Merlin Ambrosius, King Arthur’s wise and legendary Merlin the Magician, the world’s most famous wizard. He continued to dabble in magic, alchemy and intrigue centuries after the Round Table. Only this time, spying for the likes of French King Louis XV at the Palace of Versailles, rather than an English monarch at England’s ancient Camelot.
- NICOLAS FLAMEL – Still others guess he was alchemist and alleged immortal Nicolas Flamel. The 14th century French scribe and bookseller supposedly discovered the Elixir of Eternal Youth at Santiago de Compostelo and lived for centuries. Flamel was of course later made even more famous in the J. K. Rowling bestseller and Warner Brothers movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
- FRANCIS BACON – Perhaps you prefer all the above! The reincarnation of all the above famous mystics in succession, including the 17th century’s Sir Francis Bacon, the famous statesman and scientist. He would thereby retain all the ancient secrets and knowledge from each of his previous lives. If that is the case, if he is still alive, who would the Count be today – a scientist, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist?
- ASCENDED MASTER – Maybe he is an immortal “Ascended Master,” chief architect of the Egyptian pharaohs’ pyramids, after living a hundred lives. He now exists on in another psychic plane as … the ‘Violet Flame.’ It is a belief still shared today by thousands of members of the international Theosophical Society. Not to mention the followers of the I AM Activity, the Summit Lighthouse, and the Church Universal and Triumphant. Don’t believe me? Just Google ‘violet flame.’
- ATLANTIS SURVIVOR – How about the last survivor of Plato’s Atlantis from 9,600 B.C., gifted by Zeus and the Gods on Mount Olympus with immortality? Why? So he could be saved from whatever disaster it was that finally tore apart Atlantis and plunged the city beneath the sea. He could then forever retain and be the keeper of all the ancient knowledge, science and culture of that famous, fallen empire of legend.
- WATCHER – Perhaps he is one of the Fallen Angels or Watchers, as from the Hebrew Book of Enoch. The Watchers were angels who succumbed to human sins. Cursed from Heaven by God himself – not to the fires of Hell – but rather to walk the Earth. They were doomed to wander the planet, still with angelic powers, spreading mischief amongst the all too willing humans, until the very end of time.
- TIME TRAVELER – Maybe he was a Time Traveler from the not too distant future – subtly influencing past events, but only from the shadows and the sidelines. This would explain his encyclopedia knowledge of historical events and his ability to recount them at a moments notice. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, and the popular Starz program of the same name, used the Count as the protagonist in book & season 2.
- ALIEN – For you Sci Fi fans out there, how about a lone Alien from a distant galaxy, crashed and stranded on our primitive planet centuries ago? Who, with his non-human longevity, quietly observes the earth’s chaos over the centuries. And occasionally steps in to help the hapless human race through its many wars, missteps, and mishaps. A pattern that continues today. Does the Count continue to help us?
- VAMPIRE – Or, perhaps not surprisingly, a handsome, immortal Vampyre, bitten centuries ago and cursed to live forever, taking beautiful lovers in each continent and century. Here he is said to have haunted the streets of Paris, France and New Orleans’ French Quarter. The series of 27 novels written by Chelsea Quinn Yabro exploits this idea quite skillfully in over a two dozen very enjoyable stories.
- A BONUS & POPULAR THEORY: Lastly, was he simply a mortal man? The last son of exiled Hungarian Freedom Fighter, Prince Ferenc Rakoczi II? He is said to have admitted this once, and taken on aliases to elude the Hapsburg Emperors of Austria. If so, he would have been born around the year 1700. Then, with a lucky & youthful appearance that lasted for decades (long before the advent of Botox) he appeared to never age. It would explain his wealth and ability to move about the royal courts of Europe with ease.
Count Saint-Germain never married nor had any children, that we know of. He is supposed to have finally died of pneumonia in a Schleswig-Holstein castle in 1784. He died alone, as his patron at the time, Karl von Hesse-Kassel, was not present to witness it. At what age he passed, we do not know for sure. BUT, he was reportedly seen the next year at a German Freemason Convention. Then seen again in Paris during the French Revolution of 1789! He supposedly tried to desperately warn Queen Marie Antoinette of her and her husband’s impending doom.
Looking for a scientific explanation? Today, modern science has thoroughly mapped the human genome and begun to unravel the genetic secrets of aging. We now understand that the ends of our chromosomes degrade over time and our cells loose their vitality with each replication. Our skin sags, our brain fails us, our muscles grow weak, our bones more fragile. We are certainly no less obsessed with staying young than Marie Antoinette and the French court was over 200 years ago. Perhaps the Count had a simple evolutionary gene alteration (my favorite theory) that somehow increased his longevity?
Whatever the case, factual or fantastical, Count Saint Germain was a real life Count of Monte Cristo, or if you prefer, a real life Dr. Who. Is he still alive today? Who’s to say? He remains to this day a curious and puzzling enigma – a Man of Mystery, always worthy of further exploration.