In the novel Leigh Teabing explains to Sophie Neveu that the figure at the right hand of Jesus in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper” is not the apostle John, but actually Mary Magdalene. In the novel, Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus Christ and was pregnant with his child when Jesus was crucified. Leigh Teabing says that the absence of a chalice in Leonardo’s painting indicates that Leonardo knew that Mary Magdalene was the actual Holy Grail and the bearer of Jesus’ blood in the form of the child she was carrying. Leigh Teabing goes on to explain that this idea is supported by the shape of the letter “V” that is formed by the bodily positions of Jesus and Mary, as “V” is the symbol for the sacred feminine. The absence of the Apostle John in the painting is explained by knowing that John is also referred to as “the Disciple Jesus loved”, code for Mary Magdalene. The book also notes that the color scheme of their garments are inverted: Jesus wears a red blouse with royal blue cape; John/Mary wears a royal blue blouse with red cape – perhaps symbolizing two bonded halves of marriage.
According to the novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion are as follows:
* The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who carried the bloodline of Christ.
* The Old French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang real, which literally means “royal blood” in Old French.
* The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.
* The Grail relics of Mary Magdalene were hidden by the Priory of Sion in a secret crypt, perhaps beneath Rosslyn Chapel.
* The Church has suppressed the truth about Mary Magdalene and the Jesus bloodline for 2000 years. This is principally because they fear the power of the sacred feminine in and of itself and because this would challenge the primacy of Saint Peter as an apostle.
* Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was slander invented by the Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France.
* The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (see Kingdom of Jerusalem). The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret.
The secrets of the Grail are connected, according to the novel, to Leonardo Da Vinci’s work as follows:
* Leonardo was a member of the Priory of Sion and knew the secret of the Grail. The secret is in fact revealed in The Last Supper, in which no actual chalice is present at the table. The figure seated next to Christ is not a man, but a woman, his wife Mary Magdalene. Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics.
* The androgyny of the Mona Lisa reflects the sacred union of male and female which is implied in the holy union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Such parity between the cosmic forces of masculine and feminine has long been a deep threat to the established power of the Church. The name Mona Lisa is actually an anagram for “Amon L’Isa”, referring to the father and mother gods of Ancient Egyptian religion (namely Amun and Isis).
A number of different authors also speculate about the possibility of Jesus becoming a father. There are at least three children attributed to him, a daughter Tamar, born before the Crucifixion, and two sons Jesus (the Jesus Justus from the New Testament) and Josephes, both born after the Resurrection. Although their names are now part of the common culture of conspiracy writers, only two decades ago, when The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was written, the names were not mentioned. The royal descents that lie at the heart of The Da Vinci Code mystery centre on the family of Josephes, who is supposed to be the grandfather of Aminadab del Graal, first of the “Fisher Kings”. However the genealogies that are quoted in Grail lore appear to record too few generations, with children regularly being born to fathers in their 40s.
Mystery within the mystery
Part of the advertising campaign for the novel was that the artwork in the American version of the bookjacket held various codes, and that the reader who solved them via the author’s website would be given a prize. Several thousand people actually solved the codes, and one name was randomly chosen to be the winner, with the name announced on live television, Good Morning America, in early 2004. The prize was a trip to Paris.
The five hidden puzzles reveal:
* That the back of the book jacket conceals latitude and longitude coordinates, written in reverse, light red on dark red. Adding one degree to the latitude gives the coordinates of the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Northern Virginia, which is the location of a mysterious sculpture called Kryptos. The coordinates were taken from part of the decrypted text of part 2 of the sculpture (part 4 has never been solved). When Brown has been asked why the coordinates are one degree off, his reply has been, “The discrepancy is intentional”.
* Bold letters are present on the book jacket. There is a secret message hidden in the text of the book flaps. The message: Is there no help for the widow’s son (a reference to Freemasonry).
* The words “only WW knows” can be seen on the back cover. It is a phrase printed invertedly, in the torn part of the book cover. This too is a reference to part 2 of the Kryptos sculpture.
* A circle with numbers, between the Doubleday logo and the barcode, reveals a secret message. These are the chapter numbers where the initial letters are arranged in Caesar box format.
* There is reverse writing on the cover of the book, which is the riddle for the first cryptex.
Brown, both via his website and in person, has stated that the puzzles in the bookjacket give hints about the subject of his next novel, The Lost Symbol. This repeats a theme from his earlier novels. For example, Deception Point had an encrypted message which, when solved, said, “The Da Vinci Code will surface”.
In the simplified Chinese version of The Da Vinci Code, the cover has a secret text; however, this text can be easily seen. It reads: “13-3-2-1-1-8-5 O, Draconian devil! Oh, Lame Saint! P.S. Find Robert Langdon.” This is the multiply encrypted clue written in invisible ink next to the dead body in the museum which kicks off the plot of the entire novel.
Brown’s novel was a major success in 2004 and was outsold only by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It won Book Sense’s 2004 Book of the Year Award in the Adult Fiction category. It spawned a number of offspring works and drew positive reviews from The New York Times, People, and The Washington Post. Additionally, The Da Vinci Code has inspired a number of novels very similar to it, including Raymond Khoury’s The Last Templar and Steve Berry’
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