It was all intertwined.
The Holy Grail is Mary Magdalene … the mother of the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. Sophie felt a new wave of disorientation as she stood in the silence of the ballroom and stared at Robert Langdon. The more pieces Langdon and Teabing laid on the table tonight, the more unpredictable this puzzle became.
“As you can see, my dear,” Teabing said, hobbling toward a bookshelf, “Leonardo is not the only one who has been trying to tell the world the truth about the Holy Grail. The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians.” He ran a finger down a row of several dozen books.
Sophie tilted her head and scanned the list of titles:
THE TEMPLAR REVELATION:
Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ
THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR:
Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail
THE GODDESS IN THE GOSPELS
Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine
“Here is perhaps the best-known tome,” Teabing said, pulling a tattered hardcover from the stack and handing it to her.
The cover read:
HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL
The Acclaimed International Bestseller
Sophie glanced up. “An international bestseller? I’ve never heard of it.”
“You were young. This caused quite a stir back in the nineteen eighties. To my taste, the authors made some dubious leaps of faith in their analysis, but their fundamental premise is sound, and to
their credit, they finally brought the idea of Christ’s bloodline into the mainstream.”
“What was the Church’s reaction to the book?”
“Outrage, of course. But that was to be expected. After all, this was a secret the Vatican had tried to bury in the fourth century. That’s part of what the Crusades were about. Gathering and destroying information. The threat Mary Magdalene posed to the men of the early Church was potentially ruinous. Not only was she the woman to whom Jesus had assigned the task of founding the Church, but she also had physical proof that the Church’s newly proclaimed deity had spawned a mortal bloodline. 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, thereby defusing any potential claims that Christ had a surviving bloodline and was a mortal prophet.”
Sophie glanced at Langdon, who nodded. “Sophie, the historical evidence supporting this is substantial.”
“I admit,” Teabing said, “the assertions are dire, but you must understand the Church’s powerful motivations to conduct such a cover-up. They could never have survived public knowledge of a bloodline. A child of Jesus would undermine the critical notion of Christ’s divinity and therefore the Christian Church, which declared itself the sole vessel through which humanity could access the divine and gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven.”
“The five-petal rose,” Sophie said, pointing suddenly to the spine of one of Teabing’s books. The same exact design inlaid on the rosewood box.
Teabing glanced at Langdon and grinned. “She has a good eye.” He turned back to Sophie. “That is the Priory symbol for the Grail. Mary Magdalene. Because her name was forbidden by the Church, Mary Magdalene became secretly known by many pseudonyms—the Chalice, the Holy Grail, and the Rose.” He paused. “The Rose has ties to the five-pointed pentacle of Venus and the guiding Compass Rose. By the way, the word rose is identical in English, French, German, and many other languages.”
“Rose,” Langdon added, “is also an anagram of Eros, the Greek god of sexual love.”
Sophie gave him a surprised look as Teabing plowed on.
“The Rose has always been the premiere symbol of female sexuality. In primitive goddess cults, the five petals represented the five stations of female life—birth, menstruation, motherhood, menopause, and death. And in modern times, the flowering rose’s ties to womanhood are considered more visual.” He glanced at Robert. “Perhaps the symbologist could explain?”
Robert hesitated. A moment too long.
“Oh, heavens!” Teabing huffed. “You Americans are such prudes.” He looked back at Sophie. “What Robert is fumbling with is the fact that the blossoming flower resembles the female genitalia, the sublime blossom from which all mankind enters the world. And if you’ve ever seen any paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, you’ll know exactly what I mean.”
“The point here,” Langdon said, motioning back to the bookshelf, “is that all of these books substantiate the same historical claim.”
“That Jesus was a father.” Sophie was still uncertain.
“Yes,” Teabing said. “And that Mary Magdalene was the womb that carried His royal lineage. The Priory of Sion, to this day, still worships Mary Magdalene as the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose, and the Divine Mother.”
Sophie again flashed on the ritual in the basement.
“According to the Priory,” Teabing continued, “Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion. For the safety of Christ’s unborn child, she had no choice but to flee the Holy Land. With the help of Jesus’ trusted uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene secretly traveled to France, then known as Gaul. There she found safe refuge in the Jewish community. It was here in France that she gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Sarah.”
Sophie glanced up. “They actually know the child’s name?”
“Far more than that. Magdalene’s and Sarah’s lives were scrutinously chronicled by their Jewish protectors. Remember that Magdalene’s child belonged to the lineage of Jewish kings—David and Solomon. For this reason, the Jews in France considered
Magdalene sacred royalty and revered her as the progenitor of the royal line of kings. Countless scholars of that era chronicled Mary Magdalene’s days in France, including the birth of Sarah and the subsequent family tree.”
Sophie was startled. “There exists a family tree of Jesus Christ?” “Indeed. And it is purportedly one of the cornerstones of the
Sangreal documents. A complete genealogy of the early descendants of Christ.”
“But what good is a documented genealogy of Christ’s bloodline?” Sophie asked. “It’s not proof. Historians could not possibly confirm its authenticity.”
Teabing chuckled. “No more so than they can confirm the authenticity of the Bible.”
“Meaning that history is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books—books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, ‘What is history, but a fable agreed upon?’ ” He smiled. “By its very nature, history is always a one-sided account.”
Sophie had never thought of it that way.
“The Sangreal documents simply tell the other side of the Christ story. In the end, which side of the story you believe becomes a matter of faith and personal exploration, but at least the information has survived. The Sangreal documents include tens of thousands of pages of information. Eyewitness accounts of the Sangreal treasure describe it as being carried in four enormous trunks. In those trunks are reputed to be the Purist Documents—thousands of pages of unaltered, pre-Constantine documents, written by the early followers of Jesus, revering Him as a wholly human teacher and prophet. Also rumored to be part of the treasure is the legendary “Q” Document—a manuscript that even the Vatican admits they believe exists. Allegedly, it is a book of Jesus’ teachings, possibly written in His own hand.”
“Writings by Christ Himself?”
“Of course,” Teabing said. “Why wouldn’t Jesus have kept a chronicle of His ministry? Most people did in those days. Another explosive document believed to be in the treasure is a manuscript called The Magdalene Diaries—Mary Magdalene’s personal account of her relationship with Christ, His crucifixion, and her time in France.”
Sophie was silent for a long moment. “And these four chests of documents were the treasure that the Knights Templar found under Solomon’s Temple?”
“Exactly. The documents that made the Knights so powerful. The documents that have been the object of countless Grail quests throughout history.”
“But you said the Holy Grail was Mary Magdalene. If people are searching for documents, why would you call it a search for the Holy Grail?”
Teabing eyed her, his expression softening. “Because the hiding place of the Holy Grail includes a sarcophagus.”
Outside, the wind howled in the trees.
Teabing spoke more quietly now. “The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one, the lost sacred feminine.”
Sophie felt an unexpected wonder. “The hiding place of the Holy Grail is actually … a tomb?”
Teabing’s hazel eyes got misty. “It is. A tomb containing the body of Mary Magdalene and the documents that tell the true story of her life. At its heart, the quest for the Holy Grail has always been a quest for the Magdalene—the wronged Queen, entombed with proof of her family’s rightful claim to power.”
Sophie waited a moment as Teabing gathered himself. So much about her grandfather was still not making sense. “Members of the Priory,” she finally said, “all these years have answered the charge of protecting the Sangreal documents and the tomb of Mary Magdalene?”
“Yes, but the brotherhood had another, more important duty as well—to protect the bloodline itself. Christ’s lineage was in perpetual
danger. The early Church feared that if the lineage were permitted to grow, the secret of Jesus and Magdalene would eventually surface and challenge the fundamental Catholic doctrine—that of a divine Messiah who did not consort with women or engage in sexual union.” He paused. “Nonetheless, Christ’s line grew quietly under cover in France until making a bold move in the fifth century, when it intermarried with French royal blood and created a lineage known as the Merovingian bloodline.”
This news surprised Sophie. Merovingian was a term learned by every student in France. “The Merovingians founded Paris.”
“Yes. That’s one of the reasons the Grail legend is so rich in France. Many of the Vatican’s Grail quests here were in fact stealth missions to erase members of the royal bloodline. Have you heard of King Dagobert?”
Sophie vaguely recalled the name from a grisly tale in history class. “Dagobert was a Merovingian king, wasn’t he? Stabbed in the eye while sleeping?”
“Exactly. Assassinated by the Vatican in collusion with Pepin d’Heristal. Late seventh century. With Dagobert’s murder, the Merovingian bloodline was almost exterminated. Fortunately, Dagobert’s son, Sigisbert, secretly escaped the attack and carried on the lineage, which later included Godefroi de Bouillon—founder of the Priory of Sion.”
“The same man,” Langdon said, “who ordered the Knights Templar to recover the Sangreal documents from beneath Solomon’s Temple and thus provide the Merovingians proof of their hereditary ties to Jesus Christ.”
Teabing nodded, heaving a ponderous sigh. “The modern Priory of Sion has a momentous duty. Theirs is a threefold charge. The brotherhood must protect the Sangreal documents. They must protect the tomb of Mary Magdalene. And, of course, they must nurture and protect the bloodline of Christ—those few members of the royal Merovingian bloodline who have survived into modern times.”
The words hung in the huge space, and Sophie felt an odd vibration, as if her bones were reverberating with some new kind of
truth. Descendants of Jesus who survived into modern times. Her grandfather’s voice again was whispering in her ear. Princess, I must tell you the truth about your family.
A chill raked her flesh.
She could not imagine.
“Sir Leigh?” The manservant’s words crackled through the intercom on the wall, and Sophie jumped. “If you could join me in the kitchen a moment?”
Teabing scowled at the ill-timed intrusion. He went over to the intercom and pressed the button. “Rémy, as you know, I am busy with my guests. If we need anything else from the kitchen tonight, we will help ourselves. Thank you and good night.”
“A word with you before I retire, sir. If you would.”
Teabing grunted and pressed the button. “Make it quick, Rémy.” “It is a household matter, sir, hardly fare for guests to endure.” Teabing looked incredulous. “And it cannot wait until morning?” “No, sir. My question won’t take a minute.”
Teabing rolled his eyes and looked at Langdon and Sophie. “Sometimes I wonder who is serving whom?” He pressed the button again. “I’ll be right there, Rémy. Can I bring you anything when I come?”
“Only freedom from oppression, sir.”
“Rémy, you realize your steak au poivre is the only reason you still work for me.”
“So you tell me, sir. So you tell me.”
Sophie felt hollow as she listened to the clicking of Teabing’s crutches fade down the hallway. Numb, she turned and faced Langdon in the deserted ballroom. He was already shaking his head as if reading her mind.
“No, Sophie,” he whispered, his eyes reassuring. “The same thought crossed my mind when I realized your grandfather was in the Priory, and you said he wanted to tell you a secret about your family. But it’s impossible.” Langdon paused. “Saunière is not a Merovingian name.”
Sophie wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or disappointed. Earlier, Langdon had asked an unusual passing question about Sophie’s mother’s maiden name. Chauvel. The question now made sense. “And Chauvel?” she asked, anxious.
Again he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I know that would have answered some questions for you. Only two direct lines of Merovingians remain. Their family names are Plantard and Saint- Clair. Both families live in hiding, probably protected by the Priory.”
Sophie repeated the names silently in her mind and then shook her head. There was no one in her family named Plantard or Saint-Clair. A weary undertow was pulling at her now. She realized she was no closer than she had been at the Louvre to understanding what truth her grandfather had wanted to reveal to her. Sophie wished her grandfather had never mentioned her family this afternoon. He had torn open old wounds that felt as painful now as ever. They are dead, Sophie. They are not coming back. She thought of her mother singing her to sleep at night, of her father giving her rides on his shoulders, and of her grandmother and younger brother smiling at her with their fervent green eyes. All that was stolen. And all she had left was her grandfather.
And now he is gone too. I am alone.
Sophie turned quietly back to The Last Supper and gazed at Mary Magdalene’s long red hair and quiet eyes. There was something in the woman’s expression that echoed the loss of a loved one. Sophie could feel it too.
“Robert?” she said softly. He stepped closer.
“I know Leigh said the Grail story is all around us, but tonight is the first time I’ve ever heard any of this.”
Langdon looked as if he wanted to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but he refrained. “You’ve heard her story before, Sophie. Everyone has. We just don’t realize it when we hear it.”