Concerning the Dutch Padre
and what he knows about the hidden map
"You know Dane Hellmantle?"
his grandson. Roland Hellmantle is my name." Eyes widened, reached for his
hand. Lines from nowhere when his face crumpled into a warm smile.
am Father Leo Vande Winkle," voice grave. "And I have been waiting a very long
time to hear from a Hellmantle." On the stone bench he put his hands on his
thighs shaking his head, perspiration from the sermon on his forehead. He
looked at D'Aqs with eyes that held a question.
he's an Anglican minister who was a missionary in Burma," added Hellmantle. A
nod that was perhaps an international wink between all missionaries,
acknowledging pain and chronic obstacles to overcome in foreign lands teaching
the Good News to those thirsting for the hearth of wisdom.
preached in Sayangan?" Surprise crossed his face. "We stopped off there for a
night and saw your name on the board listing missionaries who preached there at
took your motorcycles up the Halseema Trail?" He spoke as a man, not as
an out-of-reach priest. "That must have been something!"
an experienced rider," said D'Aqs.
knew my grandfather?" Discomfort from compliments, eyes darting to the ground.
"I sure did. I met him when
I was in Hanoi in the early fifties," reaching into his memory bank. "There was
an important center for the church there in Hanoi when the French were still in
power then. While I was there I found time to unwind from the heat, and that
was when I met your grandfather in the Café D'Artistes. Your grandfather
was a real live wire." He chuckled. "He loved to sing his war songs from the
Legion when he drank too much." His brow darkened. "He died August 24th,
1954, I can remember: the second last day of fighting." Father Leo Vande Winkle
was quiet for a moment. "Everything changed after that. Everything. That was
the end of colonial rule in Vietnam."
"Did he ever say anything to
you about a map?" Hellmantle glanced at D'Aqs, and licked his cracked lips.
"Yes, the map. It was
like a Holy Quest for him. I think that's why he confided in me as a newly
ordained priest back then coming from Holland. He told me about a map he
buried, in case he was ever killed." Standing up he faced them both squarely.
"I always wondered about what he told me because I never heard from anyone
after that. I half assumed that someone else had found the map, a fellow
Legionnaire for example, and that my responsibility for keeping his secret was
forgone. I do know one thing though: he cared about what he told me because he believed
in it." He studied the mud-covered dirt bikes by the curb. "You've come looking
for me, haven't you?"
far?" Expression of guilt.
"About a thousand kilometers
or so," Hellmantle replied, dust dried on his face, chest puffed proudly, chin
jutting outwards. Hellmantle wanted to tell the Dutchman how great the trail
biking had been, but he refrained.
am grateful you have come to unburden my shoulders with this message, which I
hope is some source of religious significance. I recall from the Great Dane,
as he immodestly referred to himself, that the map had something to do with
finding an original scroll from Jesus' ministry. Of course as a Catholic priest
I could never entertain these ideas, but we were the same age and we both had a
passion for religion and history." They both nodded, and D'Aqs was surprised to
see the same brief blink in his left eye that Hellmantle had given him when he
became a Blonde Acquitaine. Without thinking, both Hellmantle and D'Aqs
winked back. He was only looking at Hellmantle so D'Aqs' wink went unnoticed.
The Padre's head bowed, and then he sighed.
night your grandfather said that he planned to bury a map that he had found
from a fellow soldier. I thought it was all exaggeration, especially since he
was so fond of French grape juice. Personally, I always thought he could have done
with a little more understatement."
Hellmantles love red wine!" He outburst made him regard Hellmantle with more
caution. Realized his grandson didn't look at him in the eyes.
well, he said a French prison was the most secure place for the map. I think he
suspected that the French days were numbered and that the prisons would remain
regardless of who won the war."
did he say?" asked Hellmantle, now sounding impatient.
Great Dane said the map was a route to a document relating to the New
Testament. He suspected agents of Catholic Rome would find out and catch him,
so to hedge against this possibility he told a stranger. His choice was an
open-minded man of the cloth, which happened to be me. So he told me his secret
as a back up in case he should fall." Suddenly Leo Vande Winkle looked around
suspiciously, as if by reflex, and then directed Hellmantle and D'Aqs back to
where he kept his vestments and religious regalia, a table and chairs near a
basin beside a closet. A portrait of Jesus hung prominently on the wall.
what did he say?" Hellmantle nearly exasperated.
"He told me that if ever a
Hellmantle found me I was to tell them that the map is buried in the east
tower at the prison lying at the mouth of four rivers behind the inscribed
stone and hidden by an oak."
D'Aqs was stunned but
Hellmantle didn't miss a beat.
he say where that is?"
"Sorry, My Son. I only
remember the map to be at this prison, an old French colonial, in the east
tower where four rivers meet. I think there's some inscription hidden by an oak
"Vague," said Hellmantle,
"I am old now, and too old
to look for such a place. Besides, the Great Dane said it was for his
son to find the map, not I. I should be retired but I wanted to remain here
just in case the Great Dane's son or grandson would sooner or later find
me teaching here in Agoo. I had to be here to hand off this message. Now that
that is done, I can carry out my days in peace knowing it has come full circle
and the two dots have been connected. I know not what it means or what can come
of it, but I am honored to have done this for a loyal friend. Compassion is the
foundation of humanity." Hellmantle's eyes showed him to be engaged in rapid
calculations and in thought, so it was D'Aqs who replied:
you Father," he said, bowing slightly. "Compassion is the foundation of
"Come, let's have some tea."
He filled a kettle with water and lined up three clean mugs neatly in a row.
beard was just like yours, if I remember correctly," he said to Hellmantle.
never met him. What was he like?"
"Your granddad, Dane from
Normandy as I always called him, was like an knight errant who spoke
proudly of his family tree and his exploits around the world in search of justice
and religious truth. But he spoke of Thomas the Disciple the most. He was
fixated on the idea that Thomas was the identical twin of Jesus. It was his
favorite topic. But I have a feeling that was because he had lost his identical
twin when he was a young child."
"My grandfather had an
"He told me once over drinks
in Hanoi his brother died only a few years into life but when he drank too much
he used to tell me of these images and fragments of memory of his brother."
"Do you remember his name?"
The Padre, solemn, shook his head.
"He never spoke his name out
of respect." D'Aqs pointed at the portrait above the kettle.
Thomas," he said. "Also named Jude Thomas. Some say it was the brother of our
Have you heard of this theory of Thomas the Twin? That Jesus had a twin
brother?" Hellmantle nodded like a connoisseur, but D'Aqs shook his head
slowly, encouraging the Dutch priest to keep talking.
"The name ‘Thomas' actually
means ‘twin.' The other instances in the four gospels where he is mentioned he
is referred to as ‘Thomas Didymus.' The word Didymus actually means
‘twin' as well, so ‘Didymus Thomas' means ‘twin of twin.' I think
‘Thomas' is Hebrew for twin and ‘Didymus' is Greek for twin. We know that Jesus
had brothers named James and Jude and perhaps more, but within the cannon of
gospels known to scholars, Thomas is also referred to as ‘Jude Thomas,'
particularly in the Gospel of Thomas discovered this century."
"You have The Gospel of
"Yes I do Rolland. Hard to
find aren't they?"
"Indeed they are Padre."
"We know that Jesus had
brothers: James and Jude, and with Thomas referred to as Jude Thomas in many of
the gospels within the cannon known to scholars. But there is a line in the
Acts of Thomas, from the Gospel of Thomas, that says: "Twin brother of Christ,
apostle of the Most High and fellow initiate into the hidden word of Christ,
who dost receive his secret sayings..."[i]
Hellmantle stared at the portrait of Thomas and scratched his chin. The Padre
handed them both a mug of tea.
was the Dane's interest in Thomas?" D'Aqs asked, intrigued.
thought that Jesus survived the crucifixion and went to India where Thomas, his
identical twin brother, was living and preaching somewhere in Kashmir Valley."
Hellmantle showed no surprise in his demeanor but D'Aqs' face was shock.
Son of God had a twin brother?"
"There is no dispute about
the fact that Thomas went into Asia Minor and died in northern India," said
Hellmantle. "It's been documented." The dust and dried debris on Hellmantle's
face caused Father Vande Winkle to laugh.
I am a Catholic priest and I should not speak of Jesus surviving the
crucifixion. It is only what we discussed when we were both in Hanoi. I only
share my thoughts with you in honor of Dane from Normandy who unites us
now nearly forty years after his untimely death." A great silence followed his
words until the mosquitoes came out when darkness fell.
Full of providential zeal,
Hellmantle, impatient, said goodbye to Father Vande Winkle and they throttled
their way through the remaining towns along the west coast, aware that they
were fulfilling a holy pilgrimage on the first day of the new year. Battling
traffic on the outskirts of the metropolis of Manila, they reached the city by
2:00am. Hellmantle and D'Aqs had ridden for almost twenty-four hours on their
final day. For the final few hours, D'Aqs began to sway from fatigue, saved
only by the momentum of two-wheeled balance and perhaps by the will of God.
New Testament Apocrypha, vol. ii, p.464.