Angels & Demons, like all my books, weaves together fact and fiction. Some histories claim the Illuminati vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600's. The early Illuminati - those of Galileo's day - were expelled from Rome by the Vatican and hunted mercilessly. The Illuminati fled and went into hiding in Bavaria where they began mixing with other refugee groups fleeing the Catholic purges --mystics, alchemists, scientists, occultists, Muslims, Jews.

From this mixing pot, a new Illuminati emerged. A darker Illuminati. A deeply anti Christian Illuminati. They grew very powerful, infiltrating power structures, employing mysterious rites, retaining deadly secrecy, and vowing someday to rise again and take revenge on the Catholic Church. Angels & Demons is a thriller about the Illuminati's long awaited resurgence and vengeance against their oppressors. But most of all, it is a story about Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist who gets caught in the middle. Much of the novel's story is a chase across modem Rome - through catacombs, cathedrals, piazzas, and even the Vatican's subterranean Necropolis. (Dan Brown)

Since the beginning of history, a deep rift has existed between science and religion. Outspoken scientists were murdered by the Church for revealing scientific truths. Religion has always persecuted science. But in the 1500s, a group of men in Rome fought back against the Church. Some of Italy's most enlightened men—physicists, mathematicians, astronomers-began meeting secretly to share their concerns about the Church's inaccurate teachings. They feared that the Church's monopoly on truth threatened academic enlightenment around the world. They founded the world's first scientific think tank, calling themselves "the enlightened ones"—The Illuminati.

They were composed of Europe's most learned minds...dedicated to the quest for scientific truth. Of course, the Illuminati were hunted ruthlessly by the Catholic Church. Only through rites of extreme secrecy did the scientists remain safe. Word spread through the academic underground, and the Illuminati brotherhood grew to include academics from all over Europe. The scientists met regularly in Rome at an ultrasecret lair they called the "Church of Illumination."

Many of the Illuminati wanted to combat the Church's tyranny with acts of violence, but their most revered member persuaded them against it. He was a pacifist, as well as one of history's most famous scientists. Even non-scientists were familiar with the ill-fated astronomer who had been arrested and almost executed by the Church for proclaiming that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the center of the solar system. Although his data were incontrovertible, the astronomer was severely punished for implying that God had placed mankind somewhere other than at the center of His universe. His name was Galileo Galilei.

Galileo was an Illuminatus. And he was also a devout Catholic. He tried to soften the Church's position on science by proclaiming that science did not undermine the existence of God, but rather reinforced it. He wrote once that when he looked through his telescope at the spinning planets, he could hear God's voice in the music of the spheres. He held that science and religion were not enemies, but rather allies-two different languages telling the same story, a story of symmetry and balance...heaven and hell, night and day, hot and cold, God and Satan. Both science and religion rejoiced in God's symmetry...the endless contest of light and dark.

Unfortunately, the unification of science and religion was not what the Church wanted. The union would have nullified the Church's claim as the sole vessel through which man could understand God. So the Church tried Galileo as a heretic, found him guilty, and put him under permanent house arrest.

Galileo's arrest threw the Illuminati into upheaval. Mistakes were made, and the Church discovered the identities of four members, whom they captured and interrogated. But the four scientists revealed nothing...even under torture. They were branded alive. On the chest. With the symbol of a cross. Then the scientists were brutally murdered, their dead bodies dropped in the streets of Rome as a warning to others thinking of joining the Illuminati. With the Church closing in, the remaining Illuminati fled Italy.

The Illuminati went deep underground, where they began mixing with other refugee groups fleeing the Catholic purges—mystics, alchemists, occultists, Muslims, Jews. Over the years, the Illuminati began absorbing new members. A new Illuminati emerged. A darker Illuminati. A deeply anti-Christian Illuminati. They grew very powerful, employing mysterious rites, deadly secrecy, vowing someday to rise again and take revenge on the Catholic Church. Their power grew to the point where the Church considered them the single most dangerous anti-Christian force on earth. The Vatican denounced the brotherhood as "Shaitan" - adversary... God's adversary. The Church chose the Arabic term for the name because it was a language they considered dirty. Shaitan is the root of an English word Satan.

The Illuminati were satanic. But not in the modern sense. Satanists historically were educated men who stood as adversaries to the Church. The rumors of satanic black-magic animal sacrifices and the pentagram ritual were nothing but lies spread by the Church as a smear campaign against their adversaries. Over time, opponents of the Church, wanting to emulate the Illuminati, began believing the lies and acting them out. Thus, modern Satanism was born.

The Illuminati were survivors. When they fled Rome, they traveled across Europe looking for a safe place to regroup. They were taken in by another secret society...a brotherhood of wealthy Bavarian stone craftsmen called the Freemasons. The brotherhood of the Masons currently had over five million members worldwide, half of them residing in the United States, and over one million of them in Europe. The Masons fell victim of their own benevolence. After harboring the fleeing scientists in the 1700s, the Masons unknowingly became a front for the Illuminati. The Illuminati grew within their ranks, gradually taking over positions of power within the lodges. They quietly reestablished their scientific brotherhood deep within the Masons—a kind of secret society within a secret society. Then the Illuminati used the worldwide connection of Masonic lodges to spread their influence.

Obliteration of Catholicism was the Illuminati's central covenant. The brotherhood held that the superstitious dogma spewed forth by the Church was mankind's greatest enemy. They feared that if religion continued to promote pious myth as absolute fact, scientific progress would halt, and mankind would be doomed to an ignorant future of senseless holy wars.

The Illuminati grew more powerful in Europe and set their sights on America, a fledgling government many of whose leaders were Masons—George Washington, Ben Franklin—honest, God-fearing men who were unaware of the Illuminati stronghold on the Masons. The Illuminati took advantage of the infiltration and helped found banks, universities, and industry to finance their ultimate quest: the creation of a single unified world state—a kind of secular New World Order. A New World Order based on scientific enlightenment. They called it their Luciferian Doctrine. The church claimed Lucifer was a reference to the devil, but the brotherhood insisted Lucifer was intended in its literal Latin meaning—bringer of light. Or Illuminator.

The Illuminati may have believed in the abolition of Christianity, but they wielded their power solely through political and financial means. There has been no evidence of their existence for over half a century, and most scholars agree the Illuminati have been defunct for many years.

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