This post is part of a series I will be writing in the run up to the launch of The Manhattan Puzzle on October 10th, 2013. They will describe some of the most interesting things I have discovered about Manhattan during my research.
The Manhattan Puzzle is available for pre-order in many countries here.
In 1811 a street plan was adopted for the island of Manhattan that allowed the sun to set directly on the line of the streets twice a year. The cross-street grid was approved by the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 to be offset from true east-west by 29 degrees to allow this to happen.
The effect is spectacular. It has also been described as unique, because the tall buildings of Manhattan create a canyon effect heightened by the un-interrupted views across the Hudson River towards New Jersey.
For 2013 the effect will occur on May 28th and July 13th. On those days the setting Sun will align with Manhattan’s street grid creating a sunset glow directly down each cross street.
John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was the surveyor who created Manhattan’s grid over what was an undeveloped, hilly island. Randel was a believer in the Enlightenment, new theories, which gave math and science a new role in human affairs.
Randell was most probably a Freemason too, as they were holders of many high offices in the US during the early years after independence.
Manhattan’s street grid is at its most beautiful when the streets align directly with the setting sun. Whether future historians interpret this to mean New Yorker’s worship the sun is another matter entirely.
What has been hidden in Manhattan by the most powerful people on earth?
What would you do to a Manhattan banker who treated ordinary people like slaves?
What magic is buried under Manhattan that allows it to rise again from anything the world throws at it?
These are the themes of The Manhattan Puzzle. The story sees Sean and Isabel reunited in Manhattan at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest banks. There’s been some grisly murders, and now the plot takes a new twist. The contents of the book they found in Istanbul are revealed.
My personal journey with this story grew out of my disgust at the financial crisis that has brought many so low. I am interested in the myths and the beliefs of those who value money above everything.
Right now I am on my second set of structural edits for The Manhattan Puzzle. I plan to submit these changes, some tightening of the plot here and there, by April the 29th. We are on track for a global release, in English, on October 10th.
But don’t get me wrong. I love Manhattan. It’s a city in a snow globe of dollar bills. So look in your bookstore and on your E-readers and pre-order if you want or just sit tight. You’ll be hearing more about this book.
Here are the rosary beads I bought at the Vatican. Entwined with them are worry beads I purchased in Jerusalem:
As you know the Cardinals of the Catholic Church have decided on a new pope. Francis I will bring a new outlook to the papacy. As he is a Jesuit with a vow of poverty I hope he decides to sell off most of the Vatican art collection to fund hospitals and other good works. If he does something radical like this he will say more about his commitment to eradicate poverty than a hundred sermons.
Before I left Rome I heard that the report into the leaks at the Vatican, one of the reasons for Pope Benedict resigning, will be given to the new pope.
For my previous post on some of the scandals that have emerged in the last few weeks go here.
The report is known throughout the Vatican as the Relatio (Narration). It is held in two stiff, unmarked red folders and is around 300 pages long. Currently it is in a safe in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St Peter’s Square.
In the folders is the report of three cardinals/investigators, appointed by Benedict to report on the leaking of documents from his study. The cardinals, include a leading Spanish member of the Opus Dei fellowship, Cardinal Julián Herranz.
Some of what is in the report is said to be truly compromising. According to rumor, they reveal a gay sex ring in the Vatican. If the church is speaking against homosexuality while some of its most senior clergy practice it, its crimes go beyond hypocrisy to betrayal of the spiritual well being and peace of mind of its followers.
I am intrigued at the symbolism and superstitions that revolve around the Vatican and the Sistine chapel, where the Cardinals spent most of their time deciding on the new pope.
First of all, the silver and gold keys in the Vatican coat of arms symbolize the golden and silver gates in the Egyptian occult system, which the soul passes through on its way through birth to death. These are also the keys of the kingdom Christ gave to Peter.
The large Perugino fresco – Delivery of the Keys – in the Sistine chapel depicts this moment. For what these keys mean in the occult system see this video. If you have a more mundane explanation please comment below.
As I edit The Manhattan Puzzle, my next novel in the puzzle series, I am genuinely looking for people who wish to input their ideas about the occult symbols that the Vatican uses.
The prayers from the Vatican and from the Sistine Chapel are believed by hundreds of millions to be enhanced by the sanctity of the individuals and the power that resides at the site of the Vatican.
The Vatican is an impressive place. The obelisk in the centre of the open area in front of St Peter’s was taken by the Roman Emperor Caligula from Heliopolis, Egypt, to decorate the spina of his circus on this site, and is the last visible remnant of that circus.
The obelisk represents the sun god Ra. It was also believed in Egypt that the god resided within the obelisk.
All the obelisks from the Roman period, except for the Vatican obelisk, fell and were re-erected in different locations.
In 326, the first church was built near the site after the Emperor Constantine gave the lands in that area to the Christian church. The Vatican is the powerful legacy, seventeen hundred years later, of the support of the first Christian Emperor for Christianity.
I wonder what he would have thought of the scandals engulfing the church. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been surprised at all. I wonder what Pope Francis thinks of it all.
In early March I returned to Rome to meet a Vatican insider who agreed to shed some light on what’s going on in the Vatican.
He allowed me to take the above picture of the gardens behind St Peter’s, where Benedict will live out his days as a shadow behind the new pope. The era of two popes is here.
Here is a map of the Vatican city if you need to get your bearings. The Pinacoteca is at the top, just above the number 12.
What I have heard about what has been going on in the Vatican has made my hair stand on end. Here is a summary:
” The Vatican owns a gay sauna located in Vatican city, which is in the apartment block a cardinal lives in and features a clergyman in a thong in its advertising! Verify this report here.
* The mafia types who procure young people for the corrupt bureaucrats of the Vatican have become greedy. They have, some say, been putting a squeeze on priestly clients to allow them to launder cash through the Vatican. Go half way down this article for confirmation that this may have been going on.
* The fact that the Vatican bank had its credit card services suspend in January is apparently confirmation that the practice was becoming rife while Benedict write books in his rooms. This Bloomberg article confirms this happened in early January.
* The prophecy of Jacques de Molay, the leader of the Templars burnt to death in 1314, has come back to haunt the Papacy. A document by Bérenger Fredoli, written in 1314, has been discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives, which states that the crimes de Molay was executed for included homosexuality, the love of men - amore hominum, and that his persecutors used Leviticus 20:13, which proscribes punishing those who engage in same-sex intercourse with death. de Molay’s prophecy was that homosexuality would bring about the fall of the Vatican. As the 700 year anniversary of de Molay’s execution is approaching there is a fear among some of the more superstitious clergy that the prophecy is coming true. The church has been damaged by pedophilia and it’s tentacles are now tarnishing the Vatican.
What strikes my friend most about these stories and scandals, the abuse of money, the sexual hypocrisy and money laundering accusations, is how far all this is from the purpose of the Church.
Isn’t this backwards facing Vatican regime utterly discredited now?
Isn’t it time for a Papal Revolution – a change from the top with: the ordination of female priests, recognition of homosexuality as normal at least, allowing contraception, the sale of all Vatican art to help fund projects for the poor, transparency in all matters by the Vatican Bank, and finally the embracing of the word of Christ, not the literal use of the Bible, from Genesis through Leviticus to the Book of Revelation.
But what Cardinal would dare do such things and what will influence them? More on this subject in the next post!
For my previous post on this subject, on the Vatican Bank’s connections to Nazi era extermination camps go here.
I managed to gain access with a group of American seminarians to the Vatican on a private tour. Here is a pic of us in the corridor leading to the Sistine Chapel.
I am staying in the Via Mecenate overlooking the Oppio Gardens to the east of the Vatican. My American friends are staying nearby.
The gossip is electric too. There is talk about prophecies being fulfilled. You can see more on that in my first post on this subject.
There are darker elements to the gossip too. These include speculation about the recently appointed head of the Vatican Bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR). Ernst von Freyberg, the new president of the IOR, is also chairman of the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg. This company was saved by contracts from Hitler’s Nazi regime. It’s current wealth originated from that era. The Bismark battleship was built by this company. The Bismark and her sister ship were the largest battleships ever built by Germany.
Von Freyburg is a member of the Blohm family who have controlled this shipyard since it was founded in the Victorian era.
The barrage of leaks from the Vatican in the past week appears to be deliberate. We have had revelations including:
* Claims about sex parties in the Vatican.
* Claims about a gay lobby with some control on the careers of those in the Vatican.
* Claims about a country in Europe that seeks to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI.
* Claims about significant adultery and theft problems within the Vatican.
* Claims by a senior Cardinal of “divisions, dissent, careerism, jealousies” plaguing the Vatican.
The Vatican has denied the stream of “false and damaging media reports.” It has also claimed that these reports are attempts to undermine papal candidates in the period leading up to the conclave.
These leaks are coming so quickly one can only assume that deliberate steps are being taken to discredit the pope and his papacy as he prepares to leave office.
These scandalous accusation against the Vicar of Christ are far removed from the aura of prayer and good works associated with previous pontiffs.
To add to all this I must remind you that twelve months ago the life of the pope was predicted to last only another year. The sensational prediction was made by Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the archbishop of Palermo in Sicily, in late 2011. The accusation became public in February 2012, one year ago.
Now that the pope has resigned the prediction begins to look more like a threat.
But why would anyone threaten the pope?
What has happened in the Vatican in the past year that led the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, to resign?
His words provide an explanation I would not dare to otherwise utter, if they had not come from his mouth: “Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the church, I finally reached a point of degeneration, a point of no return, and could no longer control myself.”
But why was the butler pardoned for stealing documents from the Vatican within months of his conviction?
We have evidence of evil and corruption in the Vatican, a pope resigning in an unprecedented move, and predictions of his death.
What is driving all this?
To me the answer is clear.
The game is afoot. There are a lot more revelations to come. This will be the most exciting papal election in hundreds of years.
So now I am on the ground listening. And I will be reporting everything I hear and everything I see to you.
The cardinals are gathering and almost every hotel room within miles is booked from here until the middle of March.
For my next post on this subject, on my visit to the Vatican and the Vatican Bank’s connections to Nazi era extermination camps go here
I am creating these posts to record the results of my investigations into developments at the Vatican and the implications for the puzzle I uncovered in Istanbul. For a fictional account of that go here.
The recent resignation of the pope throws a new light on everything that has happened so far. To any of you who are superstitious you will also have noticed the lightning strikes on the Vatican within hours of the announcement and the meteor strike over Russia, which injured over 500, 2 days later.
If you are superstitious you may want to stop reading at this point.
Because of the above events I have been researching the pontiff’s decision to go. As you know from a previous post on this site the last pope to resign did so approximately 700 years ago. When you read The Istanbul Puzzle you will see that a 700 year cycle features prominently.
But, you will say, that means nothing. And I agree, which why I am I must reveal the results of my recent researches for you:
* Corriere della Sera, Italy’s best selling daily newpaper, reported on Monday, the day the pope resigned, that the chief executive of the Vatican’s Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) had meetings with Monte Paschi’s, the Italian bank at the centre of a nine billion euro scandal.
* Corriere della Sera listed sets of numbers it said identified IOR (the official Vatican bank) accounts used to transmit funds to Monte Paschi, which played a part in the downfall of the bank. Italian prosecutors are looking into the allegations of bribery.
* Three days after the pope’s resignation Italian police arrested the former head of Monte dei Paschi’s finance department. This is the man at the centre of the alleged fraud and bribery at Italy’s third largest bank.
* Prosecutors in Sienna, involved in this case have requested to speak to Emilio Botin, one of Europe’s most senior banking figures, the previous chairman of Spain’s Santander.
* About 40 million euros was seized last week as part of the investigation.
My gut feel on these events is that the pontiff was tipped off about the investigations that were dragging the Vatican bank into a scandal that had been tipped to reignite the eurozone crisis. My guess is that his wishes, for major change and a clean out at the IOR, had been resisted by the officials involved and that he resigned in protest. This is my informed guess.
Cicero was right in 43BC when he said, in a speech in the Senate in Rome, “The sinews of war are unlimited money.”
The release date for The Manhattan Puzzle, the next novel in the series, has now being brought forward. In The Manhattan Puzzle you will find out what I have uncovered working on the inside in one of the world’s largest and most secretive financial institutions.
It’s not pretty.
To those who disagree with me, below, I give you Benedict’s own words: “We can reveal the face of the church and how this face is, at times, disfigured,” Benedict said in his final homily on Ash Wednesday.
I also point out the view of the Washington Post:
“VatiLeaks, as the scandal came to be known, dragged the fusty institution into the wild WikiLeaks era. It exposed the church bureaucracy’s entrenched opposition to Benedict’s fledgling effort to carve out a legacy as a reformer against the backdrop of a global child sex abuse scandal and the continued dwindling of his flock.
It showed how Benedict, a weak manager who may most be remembered for the way in which he left office, was no match for a culture that rejected even a modicum of transparency and preferred a damage-control campaign that diverted attention from the institution’s fundamental problems.”
That Washington Post article goes on to speak about “corruption and abuse of power” within the Vatican, and resistance to the popes’s efforts to clean it up. Inflated payments to providers of services to the Vatican is only the tip of the corruption iceberg.
Still don’t believe in corruption at the Vatican? Will you believe the pope’s own butler, speaking last year: “Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the church, I finally reached a point of degeneration, a point of no return, and could no longer control myself,” Paolo Gabriele said to Vatican investigators.
For those who wish to distance the Catholic Church from the Vatican Bank – at length in a comment below – please be aware of the fact that Cardinal Bertone presides over the Vatican Bank, a post he appeared to use to impede Benedict’s financial reforms.
Pope Benedict resigning is a serious puzzle.
Paul Poupard, a French cardinal, told Le Figaro, the leading French newspaper, that he knew from the very first words of the speech that Pope Benedict was leaving.
“I understood from the very first words and I said ‘My God’,” Cardinal Poupard, is reported to have said in Le Figaro.
Cardinal Paul Joseph Jean Poupard has been a cardinal since 1985.
Cardinal Poupard has made it clear that he was “in the know” regarding yesterday’s events. It is highly likely that others knew what was about to be announced too.
It has also been reported today that the pope had the battery replaced in his pacemaker a few months ago and that he has no specific illness.
This move by the pope is more than likely the result of persuasion. Please keep in mind these facts:
* This is not the first Pope Benedict – the last one was an Anti-pope, known for his oppressive laws against the Jews.
* The last pope to step down was Celestine V. Celestine was born in 1215. He was a Benedictine monk. He was imprisoned by his successor and died ten months later. Some say he was murdered.
* Celestine wasn’t the first pope to abdicate. John XVIII retired to a monastery in 1009 and died shortly afterwards.
* Benedict IX, who was said to have had gay orgies in his palace, was paid to resign the papacy in 1045. St. Peter Damian called him a “demon from hell in the disguise of a priest.” Pope Victor III wrote of Benedict IX as having a “life as a pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.”
* In 1415 Gregory XII was persuaded to step down to end the schism between Rome and the rival papacy in Avignon.
There is something going on that we don’t know about. Whether this is a to do with Joseph Ratzinger’s public opposition to homosexuality, his championing of the European Union’s Christian roots and opposition to abortion or something else we are unlikely to be told any time soon.
Some say St. Malachy predicted all this.
Malachy was an Irish saint and the archbishop of Armagh, who lived from 1094 to 1148. Malachy described the penultimate pope, as “Gloria Olivae,” or “Glory of the Olive.”
Pope Benedict XVI was not a Benedictine priest, but he chose the name of Benedict, the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict, also known as the Olivetans. The olive branch is part of the symbol of the Benedictine order.
Malachy prophesised that the last pope would be Peter the Roman:
“In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock among many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.”
Whether you believe that the end of days is coming, or if some just want this all to come, for their own ends, is up to you. Whatever the truth, these are interesting times.
If you have been following the story of the puzzle series (The Istanbul Puzzle – The Jerusalem Puzzle) over the last twelve months you will have noticed that certain things have been revealed by a book discovered deep under Istanbul.
The next book in the series, out October 10th, 2013, will reveal what the puzzle means and take the series to the new world, where many questions will be answered.
I hope you will come along with me on this journey as we explore the dark side of power.
Corriere della Sera, the leading Italian daily, suggested the secret report at the end of last year into the Vatileaks scandal by three cardinals loyal to Benedict, may have been a reason for the resignation.
Some believe the findings of the shelved document may have revealed a major conspiracy to discredit Benedict’s papacy.
Others say relatively liberal comments by the Vatican’s new minster for the family are evidence of a battle between Benedict and progressive elements in the Church.
La Repubblica said Benedict’s decision to stand down was designed to end the feud between his leadership and other senior figures that was “poisoning the Vatican”.
Benedict will continue his ordinary duties until the 28th February at 8pm.
The resignation may also have an impact on the Italian elections.
A Vatican spokesman confirmed on the 12th February that Pope Benedict would keep the name Benedict on retiring and live in the Vatican, not far from the Papal residence. Padre Federico Lombardi said of Benedict’s new title: ‘His name will remain Benedict XVI. He added that his title could be ‘Emeritus Bishop of Rome’ – in other words, a second Pope.
The prospect of two Popes in the Vatican is not one to look forward to. A shadow may be cast over the work of the new Pontiff. Vatican staff may have divided loyalties. A house divided is weakened.
There is also news that a scandal-disrupted trip, to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012, persuaded Benedict to consider the idea of stepping aside, a Vatican official is reported to have said yesterday.
The visit to Mexico was haunted by the scandal revolving around Rv Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful, arch-conservative religious order, associated with John Paul’s papacy. Father Maciel was reported to have raped seminarians, fathered children and to have been involved in drug abuse before he died in 2008.
An Italian book, The Secret Papers of Benedict, (pub. 2012), claimed a high-ranking Vatican official vowed he had discovered corruption and mismanagement in the awarding of building contracts at the Vatican.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, will organise the conclave to choose Benedict’s successor.
It is widely believed that Sodano is aligned against Cardinal Bertone, who took over from Sodano as Secretary of State, the leading Papal official.
Over the past 7 months I have published a series of posts related to the mysteries of Istanbul. This 7th post will be the last in this series. Further posts will cover more general mysteries related to the series of novels coming up over the next few years and updates on writing each novel.
The 7th puzzle related to The Istanbul Puzzle is about the meaning of the symbol you will find below. This symbol is discovered by Sean and Isabel during their Istanbul Puzzle adventure.
Here is the symbol:
At first glance it appears to simply be a square with some lines inside it, which form an upward shaped arrow with 4 double-headed eagles at the compass points.
As I explored what this symbol might mean I uncovered a series of interpretations. These interpretations might help you solve the puzzle and win a £100 prize. The details of that prize are after the above link.
One of the first interpretations that struck me was that the shapes were also used in a Byzantine children’s game. The objective of the game is to see how many shapes you can create with just four basic elements. The first test in the game, under the old rules, is to see how fast you can create a pyramid and a devil shape.
The second interpretation I found was that some astrological charts used the same shape to chart the positions of the planets at the moment of birth.
Here is an astrological chart taken from the Tractatus Astrologicus II, which contained the astrological charts of early European states. It was created by Luca Gaurico, one of Nostradamus’ teachers, and was published in Rome in 1524.
The third interpretation of the image is as a Byzantine magic symbol.
The square is universally acknowledged as the magical symbol of earth and the triangle as the symbol of fire. These symbols can be seen on banners from the middle Byzantine period, around the time of the 4th Crusade.
The fourth interpretation is as a Kabbalistic symbol.
After the expulsion of jews on 31 March 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain many settled in Ottoman territories. Rabbeinu ben Adaret, a rabbi and early scholar of the Kabbalah, moved to Constantinople during that period. The symbol shown is taken from a commentary on his work published in Constantinople in 1574.
There are other interpretations of this symbol too. It was used by the Marcianius family, one of the earliest aristocratic families of the Byzantine period as their family symbol.
The symbols of the square and the arrow are also alchemical symbols for soot and zinc. The combined symbol is believed to be an alchemical recipe. The Byzantine eagles were part of the formula, whose meaning has since been lost.
And finally, at this stage of the plot, and because all the books in this series will form a complete story, the seventh interpretation of the symbol is a symbolic representation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
None of the above interpretations is the answer required to win the prize, however, but in them you will find a clue.