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The Da Vinci Code: Sorting Fact From Fiction (2)

Not everything the Da Vinci Code claims has biblical importance. If one can show that the non-biblical claims of the book are inaccurate, then the foundation can be laid that one should not accept the claims against Jesus and the Bible without a thorough investigation. The first paragraph of the first page of the Da Vinci Code reads:

“FACT: 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.”

Nothing can bring more interest to a story than to speak of secret societies and conspiracy. These things would be great in a work of fiction, but Dan Brown has stated on the front page that this is a “real organization,” a “secret society founded in 1099,” and includes some of the greatest minds in history. Consider this excerpt from the Da Vinci Code:

“Every Priory historian and Grail buff had read the Dossiers. Cataloged under Number 4 lm 249, the Dossier Secrets had been authenticated by many specialists and incontrovertibly confirmed what historians had suspected for a long time: Priory Grand Masters included Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and, more recently, Jean Cocteau, the famous Parisian artist” (206).

The essential premise The Da Vinci Code develops is that Leonardo Da Vinci was the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, a secret society that protected a great secret that, if made public, would shake the foundations of both Church and State. Dan Brown asserts that Leonardo was playful and carefully placed coded clues to this great secret in his artwork. While there are a number of Da Vinci’s artwork pieces under consideration, the greatest clue is supposedly found in The Last Supper. It is in The Last Supper that Da Vinci gave the clue that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and is the Holy Grail. We will look at Mary Magdalene, the Holy Grail, and Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting in later articles and Mary in particular in the series of sermons on The Da Vinci Code. But these theories rest upon the idea that Leonardo Da Vinci was the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion and knew these great secrets

With a little bit a research one can quickly find out that the Priory of Sion is not a secret society that was formed in 1099. The Priory of Sion is nothing more than a club created in 1953 by Pierre Plantard. Plantard later testified under oath that he had fabricated the entire hoax. In 1956 this club registered with the St. Julien-en-Genevois bureau of records in France. Its four officers were Andre Bonhomme, president; Jean Delaval, vice-president; Pierre Plantard, secretary-general; and Armand Defago, treasurer. The original president Andre Bonhomme made this statement on a BBC special about this mysterious group in 1996: “The Priory of Sion doesn’t exist anymore. We were never involved in any activities of a political nature. It was four friends who came together to have fun. We called ourselves the Priory of Sion because there was a mountain by the same name close by. I haven’t seen Pierre Plantard in over 20 years and I don’t know what he’s up to but he always had a great imagination. I don’t know why people try to make such a big thing out of nothing.”

In 1975, Plantard began calling himself “Plantard de St. Clair” to pretend a connection with a noble Scottish family involved with Freemasonry who had built the strange Chapel of Rosslyn near Edinburgh. Plantard appeared on BBC television as a Templar expert in 1979. He cane to the attention of Michael Baigent and his partners, resulting in the publication of Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) and The Messianic Legacy (1986). Dan Brown borrowed heavily from these works for his book The Da Vinci Code, in fact, so heavily that Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln sued Dan Brown and Random House for plagiarism. These authors believed Plantard’s pretensions that the Priory was a marvelously astute society numbering thousands of important people while guarding a secret that would topple the Catholic Church.

The hoax was exposed when Plantard claimed that his immediate predecessor as Grand Master of the Priory of Sion was a prominent financier who had committed suicide under a cloud of scandal. The death investigation brought a search of Plantard’s house where Priory documents were found claiming him as the “true King of France.” Plantard was compelled to swear under oath that the whole business was a fabrication. Researcher Paul Smith has spent an endless amount of time researching Plantard’s claims and the Priory of Sion. His final verdict was simple: “The whole history of the Priory of Sion is one of deception and confidence trickery–it was a fake society that never existed” (“Priory of Sion Debunked”; and “Pierre Plantard and the Priory of Sion Chronology”;

Although the false history of the Priory of Sion has been repeatedly exposed in France and on the BBC in 1996, not to mention tireless debunking by Paul Smith since 1985, Dan Brown wants his readers to think it is real and that its preposterous claims are genuine. The Priory of Sion and Dan Brown’s desire to perpetuate a known hoax goes to show the intentions of The Da Vinci Code. The “history” and “facts” in the book cannot be trusted. Therefore, all statements regarding history, documents, artwork, and societies need to be carefully examined to determine the veracity of the claim.

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