Summary: As she listens to Teabing’s continuing explanation of Mary Magdalene’s true significance and the Church’s motivation for suppress her history, Sophie connects Mary with the five-petal rose. Teabing tells her the Priory rose is but one of the secret symbols by which Mary Magdalene is known. Drawing from several books in his library, Teabing tells of how, pregnant with Jesus’ child at the time of the Crucifixion, Mary fled to France and gave birth to a daughter. Teabing claims that Jesus’ family tree has survived into the modern age; in the fifth century, it married into the line of the Merovingians, the founders of Paris. Jesus and Mary’s bloodline has been protected down through the ages by the Priory and its Brotherhood. Remembering that her grandfather promised to tell her the hidden truth about her family, Sophie wonders if she is a blood descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The history lesson is interrupted when Rémy urgently requests to talk to Teabing.
Analysis: “History is always written by the winners,” Teabing tells Sophie (p. 276). This chapter sets forth, in often complicated detail, the alternative historical view purportedly known to the Priory of Sion: the story of how Jesus fathered a child with Mary Magdalene, a daughter who was the first in a royal bloodline—literally, “Sang Real,” the forerunner of the term “Sangreal,” or Holy Grail (p. 273)—that merged with the Merovingian bloodline and survived to the present. In outlining this history, Teabing relies on several books about Grail lore and conspiracy theories, including the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (discussed earlier in this Analysis). Teabing asserts that the Church, in its quest to retain its powerful status as the self-declared “sole vessel through which humanity could access the divine” (p. 274), has done its best to eliminate this secret history. Fortunately, the Priory of Sion has preserved it. As Teabing summarizes the situation, “The modern Priory of Sion has a momentous duty… The brotherhood must protect the Sangreal documents”—the cache of texts from beneath the Temple that authenticate this secret history of Jesus. “They must protect the tomb of Mary Magdalene. And, of course, they must nurture and protect the bloodline of Christ” (p. 279). It is a dramatic example of the principle Teabing asserted near the chapter’s beginning: “When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books” (p. 276). In this case, the clashing cultures are, on the one hand, the Church as a culture of social power, prestige and control, asserting its self-interested will; and, on the other, the Priory of Sion as a culture of love—its symbol is, after all, as this chapter points out, a rose (p. 275)—and harmonious balance.