Our protagonists, Professor Robert Langdon and Doctor Victoria Vetra, run through the streets of Rome, after watching a video that threatens the imminent destruction of humanity, and announces the kidnapping of the four papabile cardinals, the possible candidates to be elected pope. At the end of every hour one will be killed on the Altars of the Science, hidden among the monuments of Rome. These masterpieces constitute the Path of Illumination.
The trigger of this path is provided by a quatrain of John Milton, which Professor Langdon finds in the text of Galileo Galilei Diagram of Truth:
“From Santi’s earthly tomb with Demon’s Hole
‘Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold.
The Path of light is laid, the sacred test,
let angels guide you on your lofty quest.”
Professor Langdon believes that the Santi’s earthly tomb is identifiable with Raphael Santi’s tomb at the Pantheon. While they are looking for the first cardinal in the church, the protagonists are called to Santa Maria del Popolo. From here begins The Path of Illumination, with the discovery of the body of Cardinal Ebner, with its nose and mouth full of earth. The Chigi Chapel, designed by Raphael Santi, is dedicated to the element Earth and hides the second clue that will lead to San Peter’s Square. The altar erected to the second mystic element of Air is a relief called West Ponente (the West Wind), where they find Cardinal Lamasse, with punctured lungs.
To find the third cardinal, Professor Langdon must return to the Vatica Archives to try to get some clues. The protagonists come to what, according to the baroque artist Bernini, who realized all the masterpieces of The Path of Illumination, was his most beautiful work: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila, in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. This sculpture represents the Altar of Fire, in front of which they find Cardinal Guidera. Langdon tries to save him without success and the Chief Officer of the Vatican Gendarmerie Olivetti is killed.
The last element is Water represented by the Fountain of the Four Rivers at the centre of the famous Navona Square. The kidnapper tries to drown Cardinal Baggia in the fountain, but his attempt fails thanks to the intervention of Professor Langdon. The Path of Illumination ends in the Church of Illumination in Castel Sant’Angelo, the place where the Illuminati met in secret. Thanks to the Passetto (an escape route for Popes in danger) the protagonists arrive to the Vatican Palace to save the camerlengo and put an end to this race against time.
All the cardinals were marked with ambigrams, an inscription that if upside down is equal, one for each element: earth, air, fire and water.
The race of our protagonists ends in front of Saint Peter’s tomb, the founder of the Roman Church, where the bomb is hidden.
The tour The Path of Illumination ends here, if you want we can say goodbye or meet tomorrow for another tour together.
We walk together the Path of Illumination. The path winds through the streets of Rome and the monuments of the great artist Bernini, who was the representative of the Baroque era, are the various stages within the path.
09:30 Santa Maria del Popolo
10:30 St. Peter’s Square
11:15 Santa Maria della Vittoria
14:30 Navona Square
15:30 Castel Sant’Angelo
16:30 St. Peter’s Basilica