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Secrets Of The Da Vinci Code -

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(generated from captions) of symbols and art. the murderer is a Harvard professor but police suspect The gunman is a towering albino monk, some written in his own blood. a bizarre trail of clues, he leaves behind In his dying moments, In his dying moments, a museum curator is gunned down. of the Mona Lisa, ..under the mysterious gaze Inside the Louvre Museum... STONE PHILLIPS: You be the judge. or is it an elaborate hoax? Does all this exist and was Jesus married? painting of The Last Supper, in Leonardo Da Vinci's famous on the right of Jesus Who was the beardless Apostle of Jesus Christ for centuries? that has been guarding the secrets called the Priory of Sion Is there a secret brotherhood Is there a secret brotherhood questions the book addresses. in order to answer the pertinent will take you on a worldwide journey and hosted by Stone Phillips, Dateline program produced by America's Dateline program Secrets of the Da Vinci Well, tonight's show, But is there any truth to it? best-sellers list for years. has been been No.1 on the of historical documents challenging centuries of a religious conspiracy This captivating story will be sold in Australia. The Da Vinci Code of Dan Brown's blockbuster This week the one millionth copy controversial books of our time. of one of the most in the opening chapter after featuring a new level of fame and has recently achieved the greatest artworks in history It's home to some of the Louvre in Paris. the most famous museum in the world - Behind me is arguably I'm Anna Coren. Good evening and welcome. ANNA COREN:

it is believed, Mary Magdalene was born, Mary Magdalene was born, Mary Magdalene. a woman who lived 2,000 years ago - of the novel's key figure, we pieced together a portrait in The Da Vinci Code, and to separate fact from fiction To understand that secret and the life he led. our understanding of Jesus that would radically change but a secret, the author suggests, It might not be a cup at all, takes on an entirely new meaning. But in The Da Vinci Code, the grail at their disposal. they would have this magical power if someone could find this grail, And the idea was, certain magical powers to it." "that this cup had is the new covenant in my blood, He said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, He said, "This cup Jesus used this cup. that the Last Supper, There was this idea at the Last Supper. as the cup that Jesus drank from often thought of a mythical vessel for the legendary Holy Grail, the monk kills the curator in a quest In the book, and that shakes a lot of people up. everything is up for grabs" "is suddenly about the Catholic Church "about Christianity, come to understand about Jesus, "What I've always kind of rocks my world. and say, "Well this, you know, as if it were history, as if it were fact, as if it were not fiction, Many people read the book and a woman named Mary Magdalene. about Jesus to wonder how much they really know and it has caused millions of readers elaborate conspiracy theories, to the book's gives an air of credibility That provocative statement are accurate. and secret rituals in this novel of artwork, architecture, documents, all descriptions right from the start But readers are told is, of course, fiction. of The Da Vinci Code That scene, from the opening pages the very foundation of Christianity. could devastate secrets, that if revealed, hidden for 2,000 years - and the discovery of dangerous truths ancient history, art, and the Bible, he embarks on a journey through Paris night to prove his innocence, As the professor races off into the

But the novel's professor, who struggle and need to change. the more she's a model for those So the more dramatic the change, as a saint of the Church, you see. she was reclaimable And that's because then and what she became, dramatic. between what she was by making to contrast is actually to exalt her I think the motivation her importance, who she is. as a way of diminishing her role, labelled a prostitute by the Church we're led to believe that she's In The Da Vinci Code, must have been a prostitute. Mary Magdalene it came to be thought that the sixth century - And from that point on - and said they were the same. identified the two But Pope Gregory the Great They're clearly different women. is introduced in the Book of Luke. who appears just before Mary an unnamed prostitute with another Bible figure - Many believe he simply mixed her up Why would he do that? that Mary was a prostitute. Pope Gregory the Great declared Easter sermon, Even so, in a sixth century an adulterer or a sinful woman. is Mary Magdalene ever said to be In no text in the New Testament No. No, she wasn't. Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? prostitute. shadowed her through the ages - that has stubbornly but there is another label that Mary was an important follower, Few scholars doubt at the centre of Jesus's life. and, one has to assume, of the Christian message, places her at the centre That role in his story first witness to the resurrection. And she's said to be the in Jesus's life. one of the most important people Mary Magdalene had to be she was to Jesus? How important do you think on Mary Magdalene. and author of a recent book in the early church is an authority on women's roles Professor Karen King Harvard Divinity School as a very strong woman. I picture her until she is forgiven by Jesus. a fallen woman with the flowing red hair, as the biblical figure She lives in our memory western shore of the Sea of Galilee. a fishing village on the in the town of Magdala -

a conspiracy by the church to hide the true nature of Mary's relationship to Jesus. The fictional professor points to some tantalizing clues buried in the sand for almost 1,600 years, that help explain Mary's secret connection to the grail. Clues that are, in fact, based on something real. In December 1945, near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, a peasant smashed open an earthenware jar and pulled out more than 50 ancient texts hidden since the fourth century. The Da Vinci Code refers to them as scrolls, but they are, in fact, leather-bound books - part of a collection known as the Gnostic Gospels. These texts have never been recognised by the church, but some scholars say they contain revealing new insights about Mary. We get these later gospels that elaborate on these possibilities for what Jesus may have told Mary. And later tradition also sees her behind the slander - suggests something more sinister the mystery of the grail, who's trying to unravel as someone who was a leader in the church. And that set of images make for a strong figure. Not the shy, retiring, passive type? Not the shy, retiring, passive type. In these more recently discovered alternative gospels, Mary emerges as a kind of original feminist, Jesus's most trusted disciple and advisor, a rival to the Apostle Peter, the fisherman thought to be the first head of the church. And Peter picks up on precisely that point and it makes him angry, and he says, "Well, I don't know about the rest of you, "but would he have told things "but would he have told things to a woman in private "that he didn't tell to us? "Did he love her more than us?" Sounding rather sexist? Sounding rather jealous. I think most people will be surprised to hear that there is a gospel in which she is foremost among the Apostles. According to this gospel, Mary was the disciple who understood. She was the one who was able to carry on Jesus's teachings... She got it. ..and to preach the gospel. She got it. The novel says passages of the once secret books depict Mary as the true heir to Jesus's church and a threat to its male leaders. But many, like noted evangelical scholar Darrell Bock, say that's misreading the text. Now Mary Magdalene is a very important figure in the early church and in the bible. But it is a misrepresentation to suggest that she held some kind of formal office or had some formal teaching role. We have no real evidence of that at all. As it is with most figures from the Bible, the portrait of Mary is incomplete. Her life is a puzzle with some intriguing pieces - a scrap of parchment, a few lines in an ancient manuscript. The novel says the truth about Mary and her link to the Holy Grail is "everywhere, once you open your eyes", including some of the world's greatest works of art. You just have to know how to read the clues. According to this book, this painting by Leonardo Da Vinci holds the key to the mystery of the Holy Grail. This is a crucial image. It's THE crucial image in The Da Vinci Code. A crucial image, hiding in plain sight, that reveals the dangerous secret behind The Da Vinci Code, that the bond between Mary and Jesus may have run far deeper than anyone imaged. This program is brought to you by KFC's Mum's Banquet, where the surprises just keep on coming. So get someone else to do it. With a personal loan from GE Money, you can roll your debts into one. And loans can be approved in as little as an hour. Call GE Money now on 13 10 24.

Buried deep in the pages of The Da Vinci Code is a secret about Mary Magdalene, one the book says the church has suppressed for centuries. If you look carefully, there are clues pointing to it everywhere - in the Bible, in historical documents, and in works of art by Leonardo Da Vinci - complex codes and mysterious messages that the novel claims were cleverly hidden by the artist. But are they really there? He is one of most mysterious people in the history of Western civilization. When people think of the renaissance man, they often think of Leonardo Da Vinci. Art historian David Nolta teaches a course on The Da Vinci Code. He considers Leonardo a genius, whose work still evokes a deep sense of awe and mystery. His paintings, abundant drawings and notes, many of which are written backwards, seem full of secrets and fantasies. Leonardo was an architect, musician, anatomist and engineer. And according to this book, the keeper of the Holy Grail. Right, right. According to The Da Vinci Code, Leonardo offers the key to the secret of Mary Magdalene and her relationship to Jesus in his masterpiece of the Last Supper. The novel turns conventional wisdom on its head with this declaration - doesn't depict 13 men, the Last Supper doesn't depict 13 men, but 12 men and a woman. Could that be true? For answers, the novel instructs us to take a closer look at the figure to Jesus's right. the meaning of the painting. We asked Nolta to help us demystify the meaning of the painting. Could it be that always believed to be St John, the beardless apostle, always believed to be St John, is really a woman? And, if so, who is she? This figure does appear to be more feminine... It's a very... ..than any other figure in the painting. I totally agree, most feminine. If that's true, what could the painting be telling us? The book points to another clue. The "M" evoked by the outline of the central figures could actually be a secret code that stands for Mary Magdalene. You can find an "M", certainly... ..which could stand for...? It could stand for Mary Magdalene. Or the book says it could stand for something far more provocative - matrimonio, or marriage. Could Mary Magdalene and Jesus have been husband and wife? The Da Vinci Code claims the Last Supper practically shouts out that they were a pair. to this radical claim, To find out if there's any truth to this radical claim, we must travel back 2,000 years. Mary and Jesus are thought to have come from Galilee. Mary, some believe, was from a prosperous fishing family and Jesus was a Jewish preacher with a reputation for performing miracles. The New Testament says they came together when Jesus cast out Mary's "seven demons", spirits once thought to represent her wayward past. But today, it is widely seen as a metaphor for illness - epilepsy, perhaps. She was a woman who was ill - or troubled - and Jesus healed her, and then she became a devoted follower and one of the closest followers. Soon, the Bible says that Mary was travelling the countryside with Jesus and even contributing money and even contributing money to his ministry. She was with him during his final days in Jerusalem, one of the few followers to remain by his side at his moment of death. How significant a figure was Mary Magdalene in Jesus's life? Mary Magdalene had to be the most important woman in Jesus's life, perhaps other than his mother. He surrounded himself by a group that followed him. Jesus loved her more than the others. The question is, why? I think they were a couple. I think he found her irresistible. Author Margaret Starbird, whose controversial research on Mary Magdalene is cited in The Da Vinci Code, says there's no need to look to art for clues of an intimate relationship between Mary and Jesus. All you have to do, she says, is read the New Testament. It's right there in the Book of John. When Mary Magdalene comes to the garden to mourn for Jesus and to anoint him for his final anointing and finds him resurrected in the garden, she is overjoyed. Before Jesus ascends to heaven, Mary reaches out to him and he tells her, "Do not touch me". He's saying "I can't stay with you now" and she's trying to hold on. It's not just a touch. It's an embrace. If she weren't married to him, she wouldn't have dreamed of touching him. Most scholars, and, of course, the Catholic Church, refute the notion that the scene in the garden suggests anything intimate between Jesus and Mary. But Starbird says that outside of the Bible, in those unrecognised gospels found in the Egyptian desert, there are more clues, like phrases from the gospel of Philip that say Mary Magdalene "always walked with the Lord" and is "the one who was called his companion." Would the word "companion" translate to "spouse"? It can mean spouse as well as companion. Others say "companion" might simply mean a spiritual companion or fellow traveller. But The Da Vinci Code quotes another line in the same passage as proof that Jesus and Mary shared a sexual relationship. It reads, "Christ loved her more than all the other disciples on her mouth." "and used to kiss her often on her mouth." But many scholars, like Bart Ehrman, author of Truth and Fiction In The Da Vinci Code, say that's stretching the truth. The manuscript that has the Gospel of Philip has holes in it, and so, there are places where the words don't come through, and so, what it says is that "Jesus loved (blank)". And frequently, "(blank) kiss (blank) on the (blank)". (laughs) So it looks like Jesus is kissing So it looks like Jesus is kissing Mary Magdalene somewhere on her body but we don't know where. That's all we've got? That's all we got. (laughs) Literally holes in the story? Yeah, literally holes in the story. So the picture is incomplete. But wherever Jesus kissed Mary, other scholars add, it doesn't tell us anything more about their relationship. Are there other instances of Jesus kissing other disciples? Oh, sure. Absolutely. And of course, you have the famous one that's in the reverse where Judas kisses Jesus to identify him when he's betrayed. What we know about early Jewish culture is that this was the traditional greeting. And, as for the book's claim that a married Jesus makes infinitely more sense than our view of Jesus as a bachelor, scholarly opinion is mixed. It's certainly true that most Jewish men got married and rabbis in particular. And it could well be that Jesus was married. It was the norm and it was normal that Jews got married. Were there a lot of notable exceptions? Absolutely, there were. And Jesus could be one. But one thing scholars agree on is this - nowhere in the New Testament or any other Christian teachings does it spell out whether or not Jesus was married. Many say Many say that's because it never happened. But for others, that silence is rich with possibility. If there were any definitive piece of evidence that Jesus and Mary were married, it would have been told many, many times. It's a secret that would not have kept. What we really have is silence, and silence is pregnant with many, many kinds of meanings. But what if there was a reason for that silence? A truth, says The Da Vinci Code, that if revealed, was far more threatening to the church than a marriage. Surprise Mum with KFC's Mum's Banquet. There's 10 pieces of original recipe chicken, crispy strips, heaps of sides. So, what's for dessert? Plus a delicious Sara Lee Choc Caramel Mousse. Where the surprises keep on coming. WOODEN BOARDS CREAK (Screams) Ow! MAN: Darling! We know some people who are. Darling, I think I've hurt myself! GIRL: I've found the perfect Mother's Day gift, with 30% off the hottest manchester at Kmart. 30% off cushions and much more. Hurry in for great Mother's Day manchester. (Giggles) VOICEOVER: Want to simplify your finances? With a personal loan from GE Money, you can roll your debts into one. At the heart of the mystery unravelled in The Da Vinci Code lies the enigmatic figure of Mary Magdalene. For centuries, she was dismissed as a reformed prostitute, but Dan Brown reimagines her as a powerful figure who not only followed but married Jesus of Nazareth. The book implies there's even more to her story than that - a truth so startling that it could rock the very foundations of Christianity. What could it be? Again, the novel says Again, the novel says the answer is hidden all around us. BELLS TOLL One set of clues brings us to a sleepy village along the Mediterranean coast of France. There is a legend here that is said to reveal the truth about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This is the place where an oarless boat full of refugees from the Holy Land washed ashore not long after Jesus was crucified. They landed on the coast of France and brought with them the Holy Grail. Among those onboard was Mary Magdalene, who, the legend says, settled here and raised a daughter named Sarah. She's pre-adolescent in 42 AD, which means she's between 9 and 12-years-old in 42 AD, and so, the timing is right in the legend. But in The Da Vinci Code, Sarah is no mere legend. She exists, and her lineage is the most astonishing revelation of the story. daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Sarah, the novel proclaims, is the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This, the book says, is the true secret of the Holy Grail - that Jesus was married and the father of a girl who grew up here in the south of France. According to the legend, Sarah bore children of her own, carrying on her father's bloodline. It flowed through the generations, eventually reaching the French royal family, and from there, the rest of the world. There is, of course, no birth certificate, or entry in some ancient ledger telling of Sarah's arrival or who her parents might have been. For clues, the book once again leads us right back to Leonardo Da Vinci and the Last Supper. You've got a beautifully balanced composition. There's six men on one side, six men... Leonardo's Last Supper is one of many renaissance depictions of Jesus and his apostles sharing Passover on the night before his crucifixion. But Leonardo's version leaves out an important icon - Jesus's chalice, the legendary Holy Grail, is missing. And according to The Da Vinci Code, its absence is no mistake. It's just another clue leading us to the truth about Mary Magdalene. This, to Dan Brown, is basically a dinner in which you see Jesus and his wife, Mary Magdalene. The book says the painting literally spells it out. First, there's that "M" which could stand for "Magdalene" or "marriage". Then, there's another clue found by tracing the line formed by the central characters - a "V", the shape of the missing chalice and the ancient symbol for female fertility, conjuring the image of a mother's womb. And so, the book concludes, Da Vinci is trying to tell us that Mary Magdalene was the "holy vessel" who carried "the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ" by bearing his child. And, probably a girl child, since the vessel, the shape of the cup is actually a feminine symbol. But why would Leonardo bury these symbols in his masterpiece? The book depicts Leonardo Da Vinci The book depicts Leonardo Da Vinci as a subversive, slipping hidden messages into his art. Mm hmm. The artist's eccentricities projected an admittedly demonic aura. He was a man of a considerable range of activities, certainly. Activities, which according to The Da Vinci Code, a secret brotherhood - included leading a secret brotherhood - a group entrusted with protecting the truth about Jesus, Mary and their child - The Priory of Sion. The original Priory of Sion was established in 1099 by the Crusaders after Jerusalem fell. You won't find the Priory of Sion mentioned in any conventional biography of Leonardo Da Vinci, but the book says that for proof of his membership, all you have to do is look in the French National Library at a collection of papers called the Secret Documents or Dossiers Secret. Dossiers Secret are documents deposited anonymously in the Bibliotheque Nationale. Richard Leigh was among the first Richard Leigh was among the first to evaluate the documents which were, in fact, discovered in the library in the 1970s. The documents include a directory of leaders, called grand masters - men whose mission, Leigh says, was to hide the secret of the bloodline, then pass it down through the ages. Leonardo appears on the list of grand masters. There's no question that he was also connected with the figures who immediately proceed and immediately follow him on the list. The list opens with obscure French noblemen, but goes on to read like a guide in Western civilization. to the greatest figures in Western civilization. When we first saw the names, names like Leonardo, Botticelli, Newton, we were sceptical. On the other hand, if you wanted to concoct a list of illustrious figures, why include so many nonentities? And why not bring in more? Why not have Goethe on the list, for example? Why not have Shakespeare? A generation ago, Leigh poured over these enigmatic papers, matching them point by point to documented French history and local legends, including the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and a girl named Sarah. It all points, he says, towards a cataclysmic possibility. There were progeny or at least one child from this union and that a bloodline continued. Could these cryptic documents reveal some ancient knowledge, and could they hold the key to finding heirs of Jesus living among us today? GIRL 1: God, look at Chris. GIRL 2: He's so off his face. I didn't know he'd get so into dope. Yeah. He's been smoking more and more. POLICE RADIO CHATTER Now, Miss, tell me exactly what happened. I don't know what happened. She was just suddenly there. I didn't mean to hurt anyone! I didn't see her! I didn't know it could mess his head up that much. She's not doing too well. Doesn't surprise me. It's like I don't know her anymore. She's really changed. Get it to Dan! Get it to Dan! Not again! Wake up! I don't know what's wrong with him these days. Wouldn't you like a bank that says it'll look after you... ..and DOES? Members Equity Bank doesn't charge any application or account keeping fees on your home loan. eligible for a Members Equity Bank home loan, Or visit membersequitybank.com.au Members Equity Bank - the Super Funds Bank. Apostle, wife, mother to the child of Jesus - that is the revolutionary portrait of Mary Magdalene that springs forth from the pages of The Da Vinci Code. In the book, they are startling truths that have been protected and passed down through the ages by the members of an elite secret society called the Priory of Sion. While The Da Vinci Code is, once again, fiction, page one opens with these words - And if that society is real, some readers reason, then the secret it holds about Jesus and Mary must be real, too. But does the Priory of Sion exist? On page one or page two, it says, "FACT", the large word, "FACT". My reaction was... (screams excitedly) As you're about to hear, The Da Vinci Code isn't the first book to make a case that the Priory of Sion and its secrets about Mary and Jesus are real. A similar story was first told in 1982 in a non-fiction book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. NEWSREADER: This book, the Holy Blood and The Holy Grail is creating a controversy in Great Britain. Co-authors Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln remember the controversy all too well. What we have now with The Da Vinci Code is a repeat of what happened about 20 years ago when Holy Blood, Holy Grail was published. The whole thing turned into a circus. The evidence suggests that he was married, probably to the woman whom we know as the Magdalene. Absolutely obnoxious. Worthless piece of work. To separate fact from fiction To separate fact from fiction in both books, you have to understand the true story at the heart of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, one that began more than a 100 years ago in a tiny village in the south of France called Rennes le Chateau. At the centre of it all, a man named Sauniere, the same name author Dan Brown gives the curator in The Da Vinci Code. The real-life Sauniere was a young, penniless priest. But soon after he began renovating this church, all that changed. He became rich, which left many in town to wonder how he came by his fortune and what secrets it might hold. Local legend has it Sauniere found some mysterious documents hidden deep in the church's altar. The priest, in repairing his church, supposedly found some parchments. These parchments contained secret messages. Secret messages, it was said, that led the priest to a buried treasure. Initially, it was suspected he discovered a treasure of some sort and there were many rumours, many legends of treasure in the area. analysed the parchments, But when the authors analysed the parchments, they came up with a different theory - Sauniere had stumbled onto not gold and jewels, but evidence of a secret society that had been guarding the descendents of Jesus and Mary Magdalene for centuries. The clues, they say, The clues, they say, are there in the parchments. If you look closely enough, you can find the letters, "Sion" and "PS," code for the Priory of Sion. That's where we started, or that's where our queries about Priory of Sion started. Nobody knows anything about the Priory of Sion. To find out more about the Priory, the authors headed to the authors headed to the French National Library, and soon, made another discovery, a list of Priory leaders, or grand masters. It's the list of the grand masters that promoted so much controversy in The Da Vinci Code. and got people excited in The Da Vinci Code. But that wasn't all. The same files contained papers filled with elaborate family trees, genealogies and codes that seemed to directly tie a line of French kings and queens to the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. If we read the clues they provided correctly, they claim, one, Jesus was married. At some point subsequent to the crucifixion, Jesus's wife, or widow as the case might be, escaped either pregnant or with a child to the south of France. Around 496 AD, this bloodline supposedly intermarries with the royal line of the Francs. Could this radical - even sacrilegious - story be the real secret the priest stumbled onto all those years ago? And did he use that knowledge to extort money from someone, the church perhaps, to keep silent? Whom could he blackmail? Well, he could blackmail the Vatican. The authors followed the documents further and it wasn't long before those family trees led them to the doorstep of an eccentric Frenchman named Pierre Plantard. Pierre Plantard was a charming man. Pierre Plantard was a charming man. I liked him very much. Plantard was the soft-spoken son of a butler and a cook, who had lived an unremarkable life as a low-ranking government paper-pusher. But when the authors interviewed Plantard, a grander story emerged. Plantard said that the Priory of Sion was real and that he was a member. When we first established contact with members of the Priory, Plantard was their official spokesman. But in this 1979 interview, Plantard went one step further. FILE FOOTAGE: Can you tell us whether the Priory of Sion still exists today? Monsieur Plantard, you have supported the Priory of Sion. "We"? Who are "we"? The same royal line described on the family trees, which raised the possibility that Plantard wasn't just a member of the Priory, but also, perhaps, a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. And in 1982, they laid out the following theory in their non-fiction book. That series of linkages running from Jesus through the Magdalene and a bloodline descendant from them, and ultimately the Priory of Sion and various cultural figures like Leonardo running through the centuries. A generation later, The Priory of Sion appeared in The Da Vinci Code on that page labelled "FACT". There was just one problem. The whole thing is made up. Archeologist Bill Putnam is one of several scholars, historians, and journalists who have called The Priory of Sion nothing more than a modern-day con. It's the greatest hoax in my experience. By comparing the Priory documents to other paperwork, Putnam concluded that the grand master list, the family trees, the secret "Sion" and "PS" codes were all a hoax, fabricated by were all a hoax, fabricated by none other than Pierre Plantard. He's a very strange man. He's a very strange man. One might call him a fantasy worker. Putnam says the deception began when Plantard heard legends about that French priest and his unexplained wealth and decided to fabricate coded parchments that would appear to explain the mystery of the priest's fortune. He creates a body called the Priory of Sion and argues that this has been in existence for 1,000 years. Next, Putnam says, Plantard planted the list of Priory grand masters and those family trees linking him to French royalty in the French National Library. They are an amazing collection of documents. Very elaborately by hand, they were stencilled. Pierre Plantard traced this history way back to the kings. Quite a lot of it is true, but he has put in the crucial links which relate to himself and therefore some. So why would Plantard go to all this trouble? He got the idea that he ought to be King of France, believe it or not. Pierre Plantard died in 2000, but Priory of Sion lives on in the pages of The Da Vinci Code. And if you're wondering how that priest, Sauniere, amassed that mysterious fortune, it had nothing to do with unearthing secrets about the Holy Grail. It turns out he was accused of selling mail-order prayer services for the dead - a scandal that got him suspended from the pulpit. It appears all other explanations of the mystery are simply fiction. Unless, of course, like some true believers, you think the fake documents, the Sauniere mystery and Plantard's story are just another smokescreen. People say it's all a con trick, but who is benefiting from it? A con trick generally is to somebody's benefit. Nobody has benefited from this. And in order to concoct the parchments and the stories surrounding them, you would have had to know a vast amount about tiny details of European history, which it took us years to unravel. Perhaps the Priory of Sion has managed, once again, to avoid detection, still carefully guarding its holy secret about Mary Magdalene, eluding, as The Da Vinci Code suggests, the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church. The simple facts are there are no facts. We just don't know. Attention, factory lovers. Hang on. Sorry. Right. Ah, obviously it's 'factory bonuses' not 'bonus factories'. Still, that means beaut bonus steals Pity. I would've liked one of these. Holden means a great deal to Australia. As The Da Vinci Code's plot unfolds, an astounding secret is revealed - the true nature of Jesus's relationship to his devoted follower Mary Magdalene. According to the novel, Jesus and Mary were husband and wife, and together, they had a daughter. It is a secret so dangerous, the book says that some elements in the Catholic Church will stop at nothing to cover it up. Fascination with The Da Vinci Code has become so intense that some at the Vatican fear believers may be treating Dan Brown's fiction as gospel truth. Worshippers here for Good Friday services heard a sermon condemning the book. It was an extraordinary reaction to a secular work of art and not the only response from church leaders. (speaks foreign language) Last month in Genoa, an Italian cardinal told Catholics not to buy the novel, calling it, "..a sack full of lies against the Church." "Don't buy and don't read that novel," he told the faithful. But the Cardinal conceded that with millions of copies already in circulation, he may have sounded the alarm too late. I think there are serious concerns. Father Thomas Williams is an NBC News analyst and Dean of Theology at a college affiliated with the Vatican. Is The Da Vinci Code anti-Catholic? It certainly has elements that are a little hostile to the Catholic Church, specially the organisation Opus Dei. Opus Dei is a small Catholic group that is featured prominently in The Da Vinci Code. The albino monk who kills the curator and four others is a member. Aspects of the organisation are painted as secretive and ruthless, portrayals that Opus Dei members and many other Catholics say is flat-out wrong. No Albino monk hit men? I haven't met one yet. I know members of Opus Dei who are wonderful, very good normal people,

believing Christians, wonderful members of society, and I think they have been hurt by this. I guess, if you're inclined to be suspicious of an institution like the church, this is certainly going to feed that. It is a mysterious institution. You can fit a lot in there. You can create conspiracies because of the richness of its history, and this fascinates people. Dan Brown declined to comment on accusations that the book is anti-Catholic or anti-Christian. He does, however, address the issue on his web site, which says - The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact. Still, The Da Vinci Code phenomenon continues, with an astounding 25 million copies of the book in print and dozens of other books supporting or debunking the various theories in the novel. Welcome to Walks of Paris. This is The Da Vinci Code tour. There are even tours, Grail Trails, that draw fans from all over the world to the story's European locations. And it has a P and an S and he says that's for the Priory of Sion. Like this one outside the church where the albino monk murdered that nun. And inside London's Temple Church. I hope you realise that I am myself a celebrity - I am a celebrity. I feature in the Da Vinci Code. The master of the temple makes a very brief appearance. You may remember... And in Milan, you'll find fans scouring that Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece for clues. Is there that "M" for marriage? That "V" symbolizing Mary's womb or the chalice? Art historian David Nolta says he could have saved them the trip. As I tell my students, you can find almost every letter of the alphabet in this picture. You can make the "V" into a "W", if you turn it upside down. You don't think that's intentional on Leonardo's part? No hidden message? Not at all, not at all. Any more than it's intentional that you and I, sitting here like this right now, 500 years from now, someone could see this tape and read into the form of our two bodies... ..The letter "U". ..Or the "V" which would prove that one of us, which would prove that one of us, if not both of us, were vegetarians and we were promulgating vegetarianism. As for the novel's claim that St John, the feminine-looking figure to the right of Jesus, is really Mary Magdalene. Professor Nolta told us that most painters of that era represented St John that way. And finally, when it comes to the big question at the heart of The Da Vinci Code, nearly every scholar we spoke to had the same thing to say. Is there any historical evidence that Jesus fathered any children? No, there's not a scrap of historical evidence that Jesus fathered a child. No evidence whatsoever. There's no evidence at all. The Da Vinci Code's amalgam of truth and fiction, fact and hoax, sacred and profane, has clearly enthralled millions. But when last chapter is read, and readers pause to reflect, just what might they think? I'd say to readers that they should enjoy it as a work of fiction and not take its fictional claims as factual claims. As for the historical Mary Magdalene, that alluringly mysterious woman so critical to The Da Vinci Code, she remains forever shrouded in the mists of legend and faith, a saintly and human image all in the eye of the beholder. ANNA COREN: It's quite amazing how one book has put the world into such a spin. From academics to people on the street, everyone has an opinion, as you are about to see after the break. VOICEOVER: Right now, save 20% off women's clothing, sleepwear and footwear at Target. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING DANCE MUSIC GIRL: Are you alright? Roll her over! What did she take? I don't know what was in it! I think it was ecstasy. (Whimpers) Hey, are you alright? BOY: I don't know why she takes it. She always gets so depressed coming down. Hmm. Done quite a bit of damage in there. I didn't know how many health problems it could cause. The grinding has cracked he grinding has crac ed your front teeth. This is pretty serious. (Doctor barks orders) GIRL: They don't know whether he's gonna make it. NURSE: It's touch and go. We're doing all we can. He just wanted to try something new. This program is brought to you by KFC's Mum's Banquet, where the surprises just keep on coming. As I mentioned at the beginning of the program, the one millionth copy of The Da Vinci Code will be sold in Australia in the next few days. The paperback alone has been on the best-sellers list for the past 54 weeks, which is why you can't go anywhere without seeing someone engrossed in this novel. It seems the elaborate conspiracy theories and the alternative take on religious history has captured our imaginations. There's even a course at university that studies The Da Vinci Code. Well, one student had read the book Well, one student had read the book 26 times, which I thought was a little bit obsessive. Sydney University Doctor of Philosophy, Ray Younis, runs courses exploring the themes in the book. He's overwhelmed at student numbers and their obsession with the novel. This book does elicit - the reaction to the book is almost obsessive. The response to the book, the reaction to the book, the extent to which it's been embraced is almost like, you know, a mass cult phenomenon. I'm surprised that so many people are into this, to be honest. I mean, you go on a bus and you see everyone reading the same books. That's why I read it in the first place. I thought so many people are reading it, it must be good! The interest in the street is a phenomenon in itself but I have never had so much success at this level with any novel. His students come from all walks of life but are united in their passion for the book. Well, I've had Catholicism rammed down my throat from an early age, so anything going contrary to that and theories that things may be a little different to what I've been taught fascinate me. I've always loved history and the context. I think to understand ourselves, we need to understand history. And different ways of seeing the world. I think the more we delve into it, the symbolism, the alternatives, I think that's my main interest. for organised Western religion, with a healthy cynicism I'm a conspiracy theorist

Email - captions@seven.com.au Captioned by Seven Network I'm Anna Coren. Goodnight. Thanks for joining us. Secrets of The Da Vinci Code. We hope you enjoyed I think it's a good thing. and see it differently, to talk about it and question it and if you can get people is based on so much of this stuff, of almost our Western society within the foundations that deep well of interest I think it's just tapped complete imagination, Whether it's real, whether it's Da Vinci Code mania. It seems nothing is going to stop in our culture everywhere. And I think we see this "not religious, but spiritual". I notice that many now write constraining or exclusive. as overly restrictive or that might be seen by some towards traditions and towards Dogma, the Catholic Church, towards the church, an increasingly questioning attitude It's due in part to on the cult status of the book? So, what's his theory This is not the Gospel of Dan Brown. an apocryphal gospel. we're not dealing with a gospel - I have to remind them that is a goer! so anyone that stirs the pot