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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
Decrypting the... "Da Vinci Code"
ByChristina Pantzou, from the Greek Sunday Newspaper “Eleftherotypia”—“Epsilon” magazine insert—Issue No. 707, October 31, 2004, page 36, translated from Greek by A. N. [edited for length]
There are some who—albeit totally ignorant of the Holy Bible—have come to acknowledge this “Da Vinci Code” book as a truthful document, which supposedly “exposes” the Christian faith. However, the facts outlined below, as taken from the newspaper’s “Epsilon” article by Christina Pantzou, will prove just how icorrect they are, in these as well as many more things!
On researching the sources of the book “The Da Vinci Code,” the researchers finally stumbled onto the Conservative right-wing person of Pierre Plantard, who seems to be the one who provided the “sources” that Dan Brown presents as “historical documents.”
The book in question is perhaps the most intriguing “conspiracy theory” book of our times. It is an international best-seller, with millions of readers from all over the world. The imaginative and the real, myth and history, all randomly combined in a narrative that puts the adventures of Indiana Jones to shame. However, an ensuing, second examination (with the assistance of specialists) revealed that it is actually a medley of esoteric references, unreliable sources, recycled, old conspiracies, undocumented metaphors and—the most dangerous of all—extreme, right-wing references cloaked with literary brushwork.
Snow White eating the poisoned apple: an allegory that referred to the fall of Eve in the Garden of Eden? Mary Magdalene sitting next to Jesus in Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper? Walt Disney—an occultist who, from his very first movies has been sending us strange messages? The glass pyramid of the Louvre was constructed on the instruction of Francois Beran—also called “The Sphinx,” because he was initiated into terrible secrets? In his world-wide best-seller, 38 year old Dan Brown, an English teacher in New Hampshire and a graduate in the history of art, is toying with our need for miracles and mysteries by speaking of anagrams, coded messages, hidden secret signs… right before our very eyes.
His essay is nothing more than an adult version of Harry Potter, basically focusing on the quest for the Holy Grail and the descendants of the union (!!!) between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, sprinkled with “profound” metaphors that are nothing more than a recycling of old familiar arguments found in Religious fantasy literature, according to the comment by Michel Kessnel, Dean of the University of Lyons: “Knights of the Temple, Zion, Holy Grail, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Vatican’s secrets, the occultism of Da Vinci. The wife and children of Jesus… The only thing missing is Jesus’ twin brother!...”
This is nothing more than a cleverly thought-out text, which could have easily been taken as just another fantastic story, a story that Ron Howard has now prepared and transferred onto the big screen, insisting that it is the next Hollywood blockbuster; however a story it is not claimed to be as the author insisted on the historical veracity of his sources within the introduction of his book. Despite the tens of books in circulation which have debunked his assertions, he has miraculously convinced his readers to such a degree, that, last summer, thousands of tourists swarmed in droves to see the places where the “events” in his book took place, eager to “see” for themselves all those secret signs at last. How were they to know that the only person responsible for all of this was a right-wing extremist Frenchman? Apparently, Pierre Plantard was the man who concocted the sources that Dan Brown presented as “historical references”, as revealed by the journalist Marie France Esteguan in the “Nouvel Observateur.”
The life and the history of Plantard begins in 1940, in occupied Paris. He wrote enthusiastic letters to Petain, urging him to “stop the war that the Jews provoked,” stressing that he “had at his disposal about one hundred men, all dedicated to our cause;” he published anti-Semitic magazines such as “Vaincre” (which he re-circulated in the 1980s); with the assistance of the German occupational forces, he took over buildings that Jews lived in; he headed several small nationalist groups and secret societies—along the lines of knightly brotherhoods—whose purpose was the “ethnic cleansing” of his country, and he began to sign with the name “Pierre de France.”
According to Dan Brown, the glass pyramid of the Louvre Museum is an unusual building, consisting of 666 glass panes (the number of the beast, according to conspiracy theorists), that was commissioned by Francois Mitterand who—according to the author—moved in occult circles.
In 1956, he registered in Haute-Savoie the Article of Association of a newly-founded organization: he called it the Priory of Sion and declared himself its head, with the title of Grand Magister. A few years later, together with another eccentric personality—the Marquis Philippe de Chérisey—they “manufactured” a series of documents that supposedly revealed the whereabouts of the Holy Grail, the existence of a line of descendants from the marriage of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and their incorporation in the Merovingian Dynasty (which apparently was Plantard’s lineage also!), the founding of the Priory of Sion in 1099 by Godfrey—supposedly for the purpose of protecting the secret of the Holy Grail—and a list of the Grand Masters of the organization, amongst whom were included Da Vinci, Botticelli, Newton, V. Hugo, Jacque Cousteau… In the mid-sixties, Plantard and Chérisey somehow managed to deposit these documents in the National Library of Paris.
These are the renowned “secret files” which Dan Brown invokes in the introduction of his book as being the unshakable historical evidence of everything that he has recorded. The journalist Marie France Esteguan concludes, “What a pity! The much-praised secret brotherhood of the ‘Priory of Sion’ is nothing more than an average, mid-20th century, bourgeois society, founded by an extreme-right personality who poses as a descendant of Jesus, and a member of that superior race of ‘Illuminati’ who hold the fortunes of the world in their hands!”
If the murky Plantard is indeed the latent “protagonist” of this book, Leonardo Da Vinci is the obvious one. However, he too is presented as a somewhat obscure personality, i.e., the conspiring guardian of the formidable secret of the Priory of Sion, who, through his artwork, attempts to convey… encrypted messages. This apparently occurs with many of his paintings, such as the “Mona Lisa”, the “Last Supper”, or the “Lady of the Rocks”, which—according to Brown—contain symbolisms of the divine female element that the Church had forsaken.
Unfortunately for him, the specialists insist that Da Vinci was a rationalist who was totally indifferent to such theological disputes: “When executing significant orders on religious themes, Leonardo would work under the close supervision of a group of theologians, who left nothing to chance,” claims Antonio Natali, the head of the Department for Renaissance Paintings of the Uffici Art Gallery in Florence. “His symbolisms are confined to the established Roman-Catholic mentality of his time.”
Serge Bramley, one of the most respected Da Vinci biographers, also added the following comment, thus clearing the scene: “Maybe in his artwork Da Vinci did resort to various sleights in order to attribute mystery to his paintings. But in real life, he was anything but a mystic. He was an absolute rationalist. Furthermore, in his notes, he referred to the necromancers, the alchemists, and the astrologers with anything but flattering words. Da Vinci had absolutely nothing to do with any secret organizations.”
If Dan Brown had not reassured the reader—from the very introduction of his book—that his sources were absolutely reliable, one would have considered the book a pleasant, adventurous, fantasy-filled narration. But, when he mixes history with myths and draws a large portion of his “sources” from dubious circles with dangerous ideologies of “young Messiahs who will bring a worldwide prevalence of values” (which is something that he also did in his book “Illuminati”), then his story—whether voluntarily or involuntarily—is not so innocent.
According to Dan Brown, in Da Vinci’s painting of the “Last Supper”, the figure with the long red hair depicted on Jesus’ right is not John, but Mary Magdalene, while between the bodies a “V” shape can be discerned – the symbol of the divine female. But A. Natali, the head of the Department for Renaissance Paintings of the Uffici Art Gallery in Florence, responds accordingly: “The characteristics may appear somewhat feminine, but that does not mean that a woman is in fact depicted there, much less Mary Magdalene. Besides, the disciples of Jesus have been placed in groups of three, each group forming a pyramid shape. This was the ‘visual style’ that Da Vinci wanted to give to his painting. It is only logical, that between two such pyramids that meet at the same base will necessarily form an angle that reminds one of the figure ‘V.’ This does not mean it is a reference to any feminine element.”
And as far as the painting “Madonna of the Rocks,” Dan Brown asserts that this painting depicts John the Baptist blessing Jesus instead of the opposite, as while for the first time, Jesus is depicted without a halo. “No hidden meaning,” says Da Vinci’s biographer, Serge Bramley. And Frank Zelner, author of a treatise on the painter’s art, adds: “It was an artistic challenge; he wanted to portray the divine, without resorting to traditional forms. He also devised another form: the positioning of the four faces form the sign of the cross. As for the infant blessing the other, it is the smaller of the two, therefore it must be Jesus.”
It is apparent from the above that both Mr. Brown’s book as well as Mr. Howard’s movie are clear attacks on Christ, the Holy Bible, and the Church at large. The lies and deceits are many andboth the book as well as the movie should be avoided by all.