The novel by Dan Brown had a path of illumination to guide brotherhood members to a secret lair. Designed by Galileo the path contained markers to guide hopefuls, the markets was also referred to as the Altars of Science. These are scattered unnoticeably in Rome, lead to the non-suspicion the Vatican was said to be guilty off. Placed as a subtle tribute to all four the science elements, it includes water, air, earth, and fire. At first, the sculptor was believed to be unknown and then it turned out to be Gianlorenzo Bernini. A closer look to the altars reveals several interesting information.
The First Altar
The first altar of science is earth, found in the Chigi Chapel. Previously named the Capella della Terra, which means the earth’s chapel. The Capella della Terra was a Raphel Santi design and the very first maker was found in this chapel.
It was prophet Habakkuk who predicted the annihilation of the earth according to Habakkuk and the Angel by Bernini. The sculpture shows both the angel and Habakkuk pointing in opposite directions. In a Galileo’s poem, the last words include that the angels guide you on a lofty quest.
In the second altar, it’s the pointing finger of the angel from which a line is traced across Rome to St Peter’s Square from the Chigi Chapel. An attribute to air is the second marker. The sculpture of the angel with a blowing breeze of wind placed on an elliptical marble block is called the West Ponente or the west wind. Also known as the breath of god, the square was designed by Bernini, whereas Michelangelo designed the Basilica of St. Peter’s. The winds direct to the next marker, which is the third.
The third illuminati marker is the ecstasy of St Teresa and for those who wonder how this could be an altar of science, it was St. Theresa herself who said the golden spear filled with fire rushed into her numerous times, a melodiousness so exciting that no one could possibly wish for it to stop. Bernini selected the angel with significance related to fire, a seraphim literally meaning the fiery one and his spear points the way.
Following it leads to the fountain of the four rivers, another celebrated sculpture of Bernini. This sculpture glorifies the four rivers of the old world, including the Rio Plata, Danube, Ganges and the Nile. But it was not the figure part of the sculpture directing the way but was the single bronze dove pointing the way to the goal, this time, the Church of Illumination.
Viewing the markers on a map, the four connected form the shape of a cross, described in Dan Brown’s book as the cruciform on the map of the ultimate duality of the Illuminati. A tribute to both God and science. Seeing the signs placed by sculptures that could have served specific purposes for the Illuminati, could also be coincidence, will we ever know.