Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston this weekend blogs about the upcoming May 15 release of "Angels & Demons," the movie version of the bestselling Dan Brown novel, which features a particularly gruesome killing (above) of a cardinal in a Roman church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, which is now O'Malley's titular church in Rome. (All cardinals are assigned a church in Rome which they are responsible for protecting, financially and spiritually.) I had talked to O'Malley about the connection between his church and the novel back in 2006; here's what he has to say this weekend in his blog:
"I understand that a movie based on Brown’s book Angels and Demons is about to premier. Portions of the plot take place in my titular church in Rome.
I read the book a few years ago and I didn’t find it a great piece of literature. The ending is a kind of a “deus ex machina” and, although it does not present a favorable picture of the Church, in my recollection is not as damaging as The Da Vinci Code, which calls into question the basic tenets of Christianity — Jesus’ divinity and the divine origins of the Church.
I understand that “The Da Vinci Code” was not a successful movie and this one will probably not be very successful either, but Dan Brown’s books were very profitable.
But “The Da Vinci Code” was a particularly virulent attack on the Church filled with many untruths that underscores the need for our Catholics to be more informed about their faith and the history of the Church.
The story line of “Angels and Demons,” I’m sure, will underscore many of the interesting architectural and artistic aspects of the city of Rome, including my own Church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, which has one of the finest statues in Rome: the Bernini statue of “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” (at left).
I always joked that I wanted to bring that statue back to Boston, but the Carmelite friars who run my church told me that Napoleon tried to take it to Paris and not even he was able to. They also tell me that they get a lot of tourists coming to the church because it is on the Angels and Demons tour of Rome. But, apparently, the director of the film was refused admission into the Church (although I’m sure they will still do something to replicate it in the film)."
(Photo above, by Zade Rosenthal/Sony Pictures, shows the scene that in the book takes place in O'Malley's titular church, Santa Maria della Vittoria; it's not clear where this scene was staged because the filmmakers were barred from shooting inside the actual church. Photo at left, of the famous Bernini statue in the actual church, was taken by David Ryan of the Globe staff; you can see other photos David Ryan shot of the real-life church here.)