Editorial Comments -
Aside from his usual involvement in public affairs, former Philippine senator Francisco Tatad reads, writes and corresponds with various specialists worldwide on philosophy, theology, Church history, Christian anthropology and public ethics. A published author and social critic, he sits on the executive and international boards of the World Youth Alliance in New York and the International Right to Life Federation in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has studied the structure and workings of the Church and Opus Dei, of which he is a member.
Who’s afraid of The Da Vinci Code?
By Francisco S. Tatad
MANILA, Phil., May 14, 2006 (news.inq7.net) - “THE Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown is now a much talked-about movie. It is clearly fiction, and we should take it as such. But Sony Pictures, the producers, will not say so. And Brown will insist his “facts” are, indeed, facts.
We will assume the movie is faithful to the book. But not having seen the movie, we will have to talk about the book.
The thriller begins with the following claim:
“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.”
Brown further says that Jesus was merely “divinized” by Emperor Constantine in the Council of Nicea in 325; that Constantine had the Bible limited to those gospels that portrayed Jesus as divine; that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a daughter by her, from whom sprang a line of kings; that the Holy Grail is Mary Magdalene herself, not a mere chalice; that she is the one, not the apostle John, on Jesus’ right in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper; that Da Vinci was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, which was formed to protect the secret of the Grail from the Church which wants to destroy it.
Is there a Priory of Sion?
Extensive research made by the well-known sociologist Massimo Introvigne of the Center of the Study of New Religions in Torino, Italy, says that in 1099, Godefroy de Buillion (1060-1100), who became King of Jerusalem, founded an Abbey (not a Priory) of Our Lady of Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
It was destroyed by the Muslims in 1291, forcing its surviving monks to flee to Sicily, where the abbey remained until the 14th century. In 1956, a Frenchman named Pierre Plantard (1920-2000) set up a “Priory of Sion” in Annemasse, France, whose primary concern was low-income housing in France. There neither is nor was a Priory of Sion, as described by Brown.
Did the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris “discover” parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets in 1975, which identified numerous members of the Priory, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Da Vinci?
Documents known as Les Dossiers Secret de Henri Lobineau and signed by one Philippe Toscan du Plantier were deposited with—not discovered by—the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1967—not 1975.
These were texts rather than parchments which Plantard first handed over to Gerard de Sede, an author who described them in 1988 as “apocryphal,” inspired by “market sensationalism.” Plantard said they were fabricated by Philippe de Cherisey (1925-1985), an impoverished marquis-turned-TV actor, and by du Plantier himself. No parchments are in the Bibliotheque Nationale.
Was Da Vinci not a prominent member (Grand Master) of the Priory?