Flamel’s Journey

It is written that Nicolas Flamel spent some twenty plus years trying to interpret the manuscript of Abraham the Jew, and thus unlock the secrets that he had become certain were contained within its pages. With much of the text being written in ancient Hebrew, Flamel realized he needed the help of someone who could read the text. Knowing that some of the people of Jewish faith, having been driven out of France, had settled in Spain, he decided to travel there. Flamel made a vow to St James of Compostela, the patron saint of his parish, to make a pilgrimage to the area where the Jews had settled.

According to Flamel, he first fulfilled his vow to St James then travelled about Spain in search of someone with the knowledge to help him interpret the manuscript of Abraham the Jew. However, and quite understandably, he found the Jewish people suspicious of him and therefore uncooperative, since he was French and his countrymen had expelled the Jews from their country.


It’s not certain how much time Flamel spent in Spain, but eventually he gave up and began his journey home. However, fate again caught up with him at an inn, located in the town of Leon, when he stopped for the night. There he met a French merchant, travelling on business. As the Frenchmen dined together, the conversation eventually turned to part of the reason Flamel was there – to find a Jewish scholar. As it turned out, the merchant was friends with, or at least knew of such a man, who happened to live in Leon. Flamel convinced the merchant to take him to the home of Maestro Canches, and introduce him to the Jewish scholar.

It is here, at the home of Maestro Canches, where everything starts to fall into place for Flamel. Being a wise man, and not wanting to lose his life, his money or the precious manuscript, he had traveled to Spain as a pilgrim, dressed in simple attire, with just enough money to make the trip, and bringing only a few pages of the manuscript, even those being only copies. After the merchant had made the introductions and left Flamel and Canches alone, Flamel pulls the hidden manuscript pages from his cloak and shows them to the scholar. One can only imagine what must have gone through Canches mind when he saw those pages. Not only did Maestro Canches know of Abraham the Jew, a great master of the wandering race, a sage who had studied the mysteries of the Cabala, but he had spent his life searching for the manuscript Abraham had written. He told Flamel that it was said that the book still existed and that it had passed through the years from person to person, always reaching the one whose destiny it was to receive it. Canches translated the pages, which were written in Hebrew from the time of Moses. He interpreted symbols that had originated in ancient Chaldea. The pages were enough for Canches to recognize them as authentic, but not enough to reveal the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.

At some point, Canches must have asked Flamel how he had obtained the pages, and Flamel eventually told Canches that he was indeed in possession of the original manuscript. When this meeting occurred, Maestro Canches was an old man, which would make traveling difficult, but he asked Flamel to allow him to accompany Flamel on his journey back to Paris. In addition, since Jews were not allowed in France, Canches went so far as to convert to Christianity in order to make the trip to see the manuscript of Abraham the Jew.

Flamel agreed and the two men began their journey to Paris. They made it as far as Orleans, but it was there that Maestro Canches passed away. Being that Canches had converted to Christianity, Flamel had him piously buried in the church of Sante-Croix.