Thanks to Dan Brown's best-selling novel turned blockbuster mega-hit, The Da Vinci Code, in which audiences were introduced to Silas, the villainous, self-whipping monk, corporal mortification is now a term most often associated with Opus Dei. A creepy, deranged, and blood-thirsty albino monk, Silas is most remembered for viciously whipping himself with a nail-embedded cilice. For added suspense, various falsehoods of the real-life order have been propagated by the literary masterpiece; in fact, the character of Silas contains one of the foremost bloopers, as there were never any monks in the order.
Hollywood magic aside, the Opus Dei describes itself as a Catholic-based organization composed of “ordinary” Christian laymen and a small fraction of priests who have dedicated their lives to spreading the word and love of God. Its founder, Josemaría Escrivá, has since been inducted into the sainthood.
Though some have taken the sinister portrayals of the Opus Dei in good humor, much the way similar conspiracy theories hound the Freemasons, the depiction of the order has left a bad taste in the mouths of many, including the Opus Dei themselves. Members of the powerful Catholic organization have risen to their own defense. Having said that, while there are indeed a trove of glittering claims that can be quickly disproven, some of the scandals the group has found itself involved in have left plenty of people stroking their chins. On top of allegations of connections and unfair favoritism from the Vatican, chronicles of stories from former members have continuously surfaced over the years.
Of all of the important Catholic men and women who have been venerated over the last 2,000 years, one of the faith’s most popular and influential men also lived one of the most unique lives.
©2017 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors