Rome's Angels & Demons Secrets
The Site: This ancient rotunda, today a church dedicated to Mary and “all the martyrs,” was built as a pagan temple (dedicated to “all the gods”) nearly two millennia ago.
The Plot: Langdon’s hunch that the secret Illuminati trail begins at Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon turns out to be a red herring.
The Scandal: Pope Urban VIII—who went from championing the theories of Galileo to ordering his imprisonment for heresy—was responsible for several insults to the Pantheon. In addition to melting down the portico’s bronze revetments to make cannons for Castel Sant’Angelo (and the altar canopy in St. Peter’s—designed by, who else?Bernini), he also commissioned Bernini to graft onto the Pantheon’s façade a squat pair of towers so ugly they were rounded derided as “Bernini’s Ass Ears,” until they were finally removed in the 1880s.