15 May 2006

can't resist joining the da vinci band wagon ;-) here's my take (#1)


from the “fact page” of the novel da vinci code:


The Priory of Sion – a European secret society formed in 1099 – is a real organization. In 1975 Paris’s Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous numbers of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brainwashing, coercion and a dangerous practice known as ‘corporal mortification.’ Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.


before even decoding da vinci’s code or declaring it a hoax, a deception, a work of the devil, whatever, certain things may already be said about dan brown’s touted “facts” and their accuracy, or lack thereof.

· the priory of sion is not as real an organization as mr. brown would have us believe. the closest to genuine historical record we have is this: in 1099, the christian king of jerusalem at that time founded the abbey of our lady of mt sion in jerusalem. it was destroyed by muslims in 1291 although the replanted abbey-community survived till the 14th century in sicily. a certain pierre plantard founded a 'priory of sion' in france in the 1950s, he is curiously connected with the so-called “les dossiers secret”.

· the “dossiers secret”, which supposedly contains a list of an unbroken line of the priory’s grand masters from 1188 to 1963, were neither parchments nor were they discovered in 1975 at paris’ bibliotech nationale. rather they were texts deposited (planted?) there (and in some other libraries) in 1967, most likely a hoax of fairly recent origin.

· church authorities, as a matter of practice, do not call the opus dei a “sect” (the term has connotations of divergent/dissenting doctrines or practices) operating within the catholic church. they don’t have member monks. needless to say, such non-existent member-monks don’t engage in assassination and terrorism. and while stating there were “reports of brainwashing, coercion and a dangerous practice known as corporal mortification” may qualify as factual reporting, they are, actually, facts of certain people's opinions and hearsays on opus dei. further, his choice of words and facts ($47m headquarters along lexington ave., nyc) may even qualify as deliberate efforts to make the prelature appear secretive, sinister, hugely influential and, therefore, to some extent, conveniently convincingly dangerous and menacing.

the idea of Jesus and mary magdalene getting married and having (a) child/ren has been a staple in some ancient pseudo-christian texts and later anti-christian writings. the church – the christian communities, faithful and united in the faith taught by the apostles and their legitimate successors – since earliest times, has consistently considered the notion heretical, i.e., not of the true faith. the book’s claims hinged upon a quaint legend from a village in the region of provence in france where an ancient shrine to st. mary magdalene is located. the legend tells of magdalene spending her last days there with her child/ren.

constantine is sweepingly charged with fixing the NT canon and having a hand in choosing the gospels which presented a “divine” Jesus, for political and security reasons. a century or so before even constantine reached world history prominence, the four gospels have already been universally acclaimed by the church as canonical and inspired. around the same time, the church has already been consistently condemning gnostic-christian texts as heretical.

da vinci painted Jesus and 12 other persons in the famous last supper scene. via an alternative art interpretation and clever explanation of symbolisms, he insists the person to the right of Jesus is mary magdalene. the simplest and most obvious interpretation (and the one upheld by scholarly consensus) is that it is a painting of Jesus with the 12 apostles, the one beside him being john.


for the recently released cbcp pastoral letter on the da vinci code and accompanying guide on "handling questions" you may click these sites:

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