(Spolier Alert: do not read the text below unless you have read the book/seen film)
After racing across town, Langdon & Vittoria reach Santa Maria del Popolo.
They enter and find Raphael’s Chigi Chapel, the chapel with ‘earthly’ connotations. They find the cover stone, depicting Mors, the Roman god of death (bottom) moved aside, with a ladder descending.
Langdon manages to overcome his fear and enters the tomb.
There he finds the first Cardinal,buried to the waist, dead from choking on earth stuffed down his throat. His chest is branded withan ambigrammatic symbol of the word EARTH, reminding Langdon of the brand on Leonardo Vetra. Earth was the first of the four ancient ‘elements’ of nature, the others being Air, Fire, and Water.
With one cardinal dead, Langdon now must find the second Altar.
While the chapel was designed by Raphael, the statues of the angels inside it were designed by Bernini. Figuring him to be the Illuminati artist "let Angels guide you on your loft quest", he looks for an angel statue and finds one pointing West across Rome.
Santa Maria del Popolo was built as a chapel in 1099, replacing a large, ‘demon-infested’ tree which had grown from the grave of the crazy Roman Emperor Nero. The people of the area wanted it (and the demons) gone, and paid for the chapel’s construction hence the name. This was reflected in its name: St. Mary of the People.
In the 13th century, the chapel was made into a church, and given to the Augustinians to run. Baccio Pontelli (who also built the Sistine Chapel) reconstructed the church in 1472, and its façade was given a facelift Bernini in the 17th century.
Inside are works by masters: two Caravaggio paintings, Raphael’s Chigi Chapel, sculptures by Bernini, and a painting by Annibale Carracci.angels and demons sites in rome
The four Altars of Science are covered on all our tours.