What Dan Brown says:
On the FACT page in the front of the book:

The Priory of Sion - a European secret society founded in 1099 - is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members 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 brain- washing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known as "corporal mortification." Opus Dei has just completed construction Of a $74 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.

On his web site:
At DanBrown.com/novels/davinci_code/faqs.html he says:
"The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction. While the book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels, Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations. My hope in writing this novel was that the story would serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith, religion, and history."

More information about these Facts: (Note: Some of this information came from the Internet and distinguishing fact from fiction there is always a challenge.)

Priory of Sion
There were three organisations called the Priory of Sion:

  1. The first version of the club, founded in 1956, was described by one of the founding members as four friends coming together to have fun. One of the four friends, Pierre Plantard.
  2. In 1962, Plantard founded another society with the same name, but his goal seems to have been to set up a secret society that would rival the freemasons, but would spread extreme right-wing ideas. He planted forged documents known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo da Vinci, in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Parisd. He was forced to resign.
  3. In 1989, he founded a third version of the Priory. In 1993, documents were uncovered in his apartment that claimed he was the true King of France.

Sources: apologeticsindex.org,

The Da Vinci Code is a best-selling novel by Dan Brown. Though it is a fictional story, Brown claims - both in the book and in interviews - that it is based on fact.

It's controversial story line - suggesting Jesus was married and that the Christian Church hid this information - relies heavily on gnosticism and conspiracy theories. Source: The Da Vinci Code at: www.apologeticsindex.org
See Charles Colson's commentary below for more on the inaccuracies.

The action starts in the Louvre with the murder of a man who is desperate to pass on secret information but has to do it through codes and ciphers so the information does not fall into the wrong hands. Clues involve the works of Leonardo da Vinci inside the Louvre, including the painting "The Last Supper". The story reaches it's climax at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.

According to Breaking the Code, by Maurice Timothy Reidy, Commonweal, Sep. 13, 2003

The book's big secret is that the Holy Grail isn't a cup, but a code, of sorts, for the lineage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Magdalene, it turns out, wasn't a prostitute, but a close companion of Jesus. Her real identity was concealed by early church leaders who feared the truth would undermine church teaching on celibacy (which, of course, hasn't been questioned since). "The church, in order to defend itself against the Magdalene's power, perpetuated her image as a whore and buried evidence of Christ's marriage to her," one character explains breathlessly, "thereby defusing any potential claims that Christ had a surviving bloodline and was a mortal prophet."
"I think Mary Magdalene is the most fascinating figure in the New Testament outside of Jesus himself," says Charlotte Allen, author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus." As the first person to see the risen Christ, Magdalene is central to the Resurrection story.

According to Brown and author Margaret Starbird, Jesus not only married Mary Magdalene, but also fathered a child who became the head of the Merovingian royal dynasty.

However, at the crucifixion, Jesus assigns John responsibility for caring for Mary, his mother. There is no mention of any wife, certainly no mention of children. (John 19: 26-27)

The book also involves two mysterious groups-the legendary Priory of Sion, a nearly 1,000-year-old secret society whose members have included Botticelli and Isaac Newton, and the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei.

The DA VINCI Conspiracy: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction

BreakPoint with Charles Colson - Commentary #040120 - 1/20/2004

Several months ago, a friend came to me outraged over Dan Brown's thriller, THE DA VINCI CODE. He read the book, and while he found the story fascinating, it was filled, he said, with historical distortions and was nothing but an anti-Christian -- specifically anti-Catholic -- screed. Don't worry, I told him, it will blow over like all fads. Besides, no thinking person will take it seriously.

Well, I was wrong. Since then I've talked to a lot of people who have read the book. And for non-believers, it confirms their unbelief. It turns off honest seekers, and it has confused and disillusioned even many Christians.

That's because while Brown has a knack for creating suspense, breakneck pacing, and surprising twists, he also has a knack for playing fast and loose with the truth.

THE DA VINCI CODE begins with the murder of a museum curator. A Harvard professor and a French code breaker are called in to decipher a cryptic message that he wrote just before he died. They discover that he was protecting a powerful and dangerous secret.

So far, just your average thriller, right? We soon find out that the curator had evidence that could disprove the deity of Christ. Although the Church had tried for centuries to suppress the evidence, great thinkers and artists have planted clues everywhere: in paintings by Da Vinci, the architecture of cathedrals -- even Disney cartoons.

That sounds like a loony conspiracy theory, except that Brown props up his flimsy edifice with impressive-sounding, supposedly historical "facts." One of his characters even states, "The historical evidence supporting this [story] is substantial."

But it's not. Brown uses a combination of lies and half-truths, founded on a skewed perspective of Church history. In Brown's view, the heretics in the early Church were the real truth-tellers, and the Church banned their doctrines because they threatened the Church's power base.

Just in case readers go back to their Bibles to check facts, Brown has his characters claim that the Gospels aren't historically accurate. Instead, it's the Gnostic gospels -- books discarded by the early Church as unreliable -- that tell the truth about Jesus.

As Dan Brown knows, an adventure story like THE DA VINCI CODE is an ideal way to get past people's guard. Between trying to guess who the real villains are and trying to decode the various clues scattered throughout the book, who's going to notice that Brown's religious theories are as phony as a three-dollar bill?

Christians need to notice, that's who. And we need to do our research so that we can respond to the fabrications in THE DA VINCI CODE. (See the links at the end of this commentary to get started.)

Even though Dan Brown knows the techniques of writing a best-selling thriller, he uses them to reach the most banal conclusions. He apparently thinks it's exciting to show Jesus as an ordinary human being with strong leanings toward goddess worship. But the biblical story of Jesus -- God the Son coming to earth as a man to die and rise again for our salvation -- is infinitely more exciting. If you know Christians who are reading the book, tell them, "Throw it away." And if you have non-Christian friends who have read it, debunk THE DA VINCI CODE. Then tell them a much better story: one that has the added advantage of being true.


FURTHER READING & INFORMATION Darrell Bock, "The Good News of Da Vinci," CHRISTIANITY TODAY, February 2004. (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/001/23.62.html)

Byron Barlowe, "The Da Vinci Code: Of Magdalene, Gnosticism, the Goddess and the Grail," Leadership U, 7 January 2004. (www.leaderu.com/focus/davincicode.html)

Collin Hansen, "Breaking THE DA VINCI CODE," CHRISTIAN HISTORY, 7 November 2003. (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/144/52.0.html)

"Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci: Exploring Controversial Theories about Religious Figures and the Holy Grail," ABCNews.com, 3 November 2003. (abcnews.go.com/sections/World/Primetime/davinci031103-1.html)

See also Darrell Bock, "Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene?" ABCNews.com, 12 November 2003. (abcnews.go.com/sections/World/Primetime/da_vinci_code_031112-1.html)

Sandra Miesel, "Dismantling the Da Vinci Code," CRISIS, 1 September 2003. (www.crisismagazine.com/september2003/feature1.htm)

Dr. James Hitchcock, "The Da Vinci Code's Shaky Foundation: Gnostic Texts," BELIEFNET.COM [reprinted from the ARLINGTON (Va.) CATHOLIC HERALD], 2003. (beliefnet.com/story/135/story_13519.html)

Cynthia Grenier, "Novel Gods," WEEKLY STANDARD, 13 September 2003. (Available to subscribers only.) (http://www.weeklystandard.com/check.asp?idArticle=3105&r=sgiog)

G. K. Chesterton, ORTHODOXY: THE ROMANCE OF FAITH (1908). (www.parable.com/breakpoint/item_087788630X.htm)

NOTE: Referral to websites not produced by Prison Fellowship, the Wilberforce Forum, and BreakPoint is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the sites' content.

Other links:
The Da Vinci Code, the Catholic Church and Opus Dei
Da Vinci Dialog at TheDaVinciChallenge.com
Da Vinci Code Resources at .outreach.com

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Last updated 22 Dec 2003