This article originally appeared in
April 26, 2006
'Code' cracked by clergy
By ERIC J. LYMAN
ROME --The Italian government said Tuesday that it will remove a massive
advertisement for the upcoming film "The Da Vinci Code" from the
scaffolding of Rome's St. Pantaleo church after complaints from clergy.
The advertisement, the size of a movie screen, blanketed the scaffolding of
the state-sponsored renovation project — a common means of advertising
Clergy opposed the advertisement because of the story line of the film,
based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel. The story speculates that the
church has for centuries concealed the fact that Jesus married former
prostitute Mary Magdalene and that the couple have descendants who live to
Last year, Pope John Paul II appointed influential Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
the Archbishop of Genoa, to head a committee with the task of refurbishing
the story — a project that continues.
"This outrageous story creates the risk that people will become familiar with
what are fables and believe they are facts," Bertone said.
The person who answered the phone at St. Pantaleo church would say only
that church officials were "very relieved" that the ad would be taken down. He
declined to be identified.
The ad features a massive reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa,"
the film's title and its Web site. It has stood since late last month, the local
media reported, sparking complaints from clergy in that part of Rome's
The advertising will be removed by week's end, reports said, and will be
replaced by something "more appropriate."
The church is owned by Italy's Ministry of the Interior, which awarded the
refurbishment contract to a local company, which sold the advertising rights
to another company.
Scaffold advertising like the one for the film are assigned randomly among
clients who pay for them, and it was a coincidence that the ad for "Code" was
placed on the scaffolding outside a prominent church, reports said.
The world premiere of "Code," directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom
Hanks and Audrey Tautou, is May 19 at the Festival de Cannes.