Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1787
Bishop Manuel Aringarosa
Bishop Aringarosa is the president-general of Opus Dei, a prelature of the Vatican that has come under scrutiny for its unorthodox methods of worship. Aringarosa criticizes the liberal actions of the Catholic Church and its reforms during Vatican II. Introduced at the site of the lavish Opus Dei headquarters in New York with an elaborate and expensive bishop's ring, Aringarosa is portrayed as a man motivated by money. He works with Silas to recover the legendary keystone to discover the location of the Holy Grail under the direction of the Teacher. Ultimately, his main goal is to save Opus Dei: five months before the action in the novel, he had learned that his organization would lose its association with the Vatican in six months. Retrieving the Holy Grail for the Catholic Church, he thinks, might solidify his support from the Vatican.
Sister Sandrine Bieil
Sister Sandrine manages the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the site Saunière names in his last words to Silas. She critiques what she perceives as misogyny in Opus Dei's practices, and she is connected to the Priory of Sion. For several years, she has held instructions to contact the sénéchaux and the Grand Master if the seal in her church is ever broken, a silent alarm that indicates that the secrets of the Priory are threatened. When she sees Silas unwittingly send this silent alarm, she attempts to warn Priory members and is murdered in the process.
Marie Chauvel is caretaker of Rosslyn Chapel and Sophie Neveu's grandmother. She has been living in secrecy with her grandson, Neveu's brother, under the protection of the Priory for twenty-eight years. A direct descendant of the Merovingian families, Chauvel followed the orders of the Priory to go into hiding after the car accident that killed Neveu's family. Since the accident, she has had to arrange secret meetings with her husband to protect her grand-children and their true identities.
Lieutenant Collet works under Captain Fache, whom he admires for his professional insight. He echoes the feelings of his colleagues, who see Fache as a heroic leader and example. He assists Fache on his hunt for Langdon and Neveu through the streets of Paris. Collet watches Fache alter his strategy a number of times but remains loyal to him to the end. When Fache captures the real villain, Leigh Teabing, Collet defends him in an interview with the BBC, declaring that Fache used Langdon and Neveu to "lure out the real killer."
Simon Edwards is Executive Services Officer at Biggin Hill Airport. He is dismayed when he is summoned to help arrest his client, Leigh Teabing, as soon as his private plane lands.
Captain Bezu Fache
Bezu Fache is Captain of the Central Directorate Judicial Police in Paris. An ominous figure with dark hair and features, nicknamed le Taureau, the Bull, Fache is initially intent on proving Langdon's involvement in Saunière's murder. He dresses formally, and wears a tie clip that features a crux gemmata, a crucifix decorated with thirteen gems that represent Christ and his apostles. He carries an enormous amount of power as Captain and is greatly admired by his assistant, Lieutenant Collet. Though he seems unusually focused on Langdon at first, in the end, Fache is only interested in finding the real murderer. When he arrests Leigh Teabing, he lets Langdon and Neveu go, in spite of Teabing's frantic declarations that they know the location of the Holy Grail.
Claude Grouard is a security warden in the Louvre. He regards Saunière as a paternal figure, and is determined to keep Langdon in the Louvre when he finds him just after Fache and his team have left to chase the tracking device that is no longer on him. He is outwitted by Neveu when she uses the Madonna of the Rocks as a shield to escape the museum with Langdon.
Robert Langdon is Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University. In the year before the novel takes place, Langdon became a celebrity for his role in a scandal at the Vatican involving a secret society known as the Illuminati. He has just completed a three-hundred-page manuscript tentatively titled Symbols of the Lost Sacred Feminine, and is in Paris to present a lecture about pagan symbols hidden in Chartres Cathedral. At the moment of his lecture, which takes place just before the novel opens, this bachelor professor is as famous for his research as he is for his charming and stylish appearance. He is dismayed to learn that he has been called "Harrison Ford in Harris tweed," and that his female students refer to his alluring voice as "chocolate for the ears." Author of several books on symbols, icons, and secret societies, with titles such as The Symbology of Secret Sects, The Art of the Illuminati, and Religious Iconography, Langdon was featured in Boston Magazine as one of the top ten most intriguing people in the city. He is recruited to help solve the mystery of Saunière's death.
Rémy Legaludec is Leigh Teabing's butler. A fifty-something Frenchman, Legaludec dons a formal white tie and tuxedo when he receives Langdon and Neveu in the middle of the night. He is the only one who has seen the Teacher face to face, and works under him to gather intelligence using a vast network of surveillance equipment. The Teacher motivates Legaludec by promising a life of luxury upon his retirement, but ultimately poisons him when his job is complete.
Sophie Neveu is a young, attractive cryptologer for the Central Directorate Judicial Police in Paris, and the granddaughter of Saunière. When she was only four, her parents, grandmother, and younger brother were killed in a car accident. She had a happy childhood living with Saunière, whose passion for mathematical mysteries and codes inspired her to study cryptography, the science of decoding secret messages, at the Royal Holloway in England. She had stopped communicating with him ten years earlier, when she witnessed him engaging in a disturbing ritual. The afternoon before Saunière is murdered, Neveu receives a call from him warning her of danger and promising to divulge the secret of her family. She helps Langdon to discover the meaning behind her grandfather's clues, and also on his quest to find the Holy Grail. In the end, she learns that she belongs to the Merovingian families, believed to be descendants of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ.
Jacques Saunière has been a curator at the Louvre museum for twenty years. A highly respected and reclusive scholar of art, Saunière has published books on goddesses and pagan symbols in art. As the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, Saunière possesses the secret of the Holy Grail, and devotes his life to concealing both his identity and the location of the Grail. For many years, he had been a gentle and loving grandfather to Sophie Neveu after she had lost her family in a car accident. He shared his passions for mathematical symbols, puzzles, and secret codes with his granddaughter to the extent that she eventually chose to study cryptology. He had been estranged from Neveu for ten years, after she witnessed him engaged in a ritual so disturbing that she refused to speak to him. Though he is murdered at the opening of the novel, he haunts the remainder of the narrative in the form of a series of clues he leaves behind at his murder scene, and in the form of his grand-daughter's memories.
Silas is the albino monk who murders Saunière. He has no last name, and cannot remember his real name in the midst of repressing his abusive childhood. What he does remember is stabbing his father to death at the age of seven, after witnessing him beat his mother to death. His childhood act of rage precipitates further acts of violence that eventually land him in prison. While in prison, he suffers a tortured existence. When an earthquake destroys the prison and frees him, he wanders aimlessly until he meets Bishop Aringarosa. The Bishop names him Silas after reading him a passage of the Bible that refers to a prisoner with that name who prays to God in spite of being beaten regularly, and is eventually freed by an earthquake. Aringarosa converts Silas to Catholicism and recruits him to help build his church. A devout Christian, he wears a spiked cilice around his thigh and whips himself with a discipline, devices used to remind him of Christ's suffering. He struggles with his role as an assassin of the three sénéchaux, Saunière, and Sister Sandrine.
Sir Leigh Teabing
See The Teacher
The Teacher is the anonymous mastermind behind the plan to find the Holy Grail. Until his identity is revealed at the end of the novel, he is never seen but only heard, primarily through telephone conversations with Silas and Bishop Aringarosa. He has access to a staggering amount of information, and seems to be able to see all that is happening in the novel. He obtains the names of the three sénéchaux and the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, commands Silas to kill them, and informs Bishop Aringarosa of the status of their quest to retrieve the Holy Grail. Because of his close ties to Silas and the Bishop, the infinite fortune he seems to have, and references he makes to doing God's work, he initially appears to be associated in some way with the Catholic Church. But he actually works only for himself, and reveals his identity at the climax of the novel as Leigh Teabing. As Teabing, he helps Langdon and Neveu interpret the clues left by Saunière, as he summarizes some of the more controversial ideas of the novel. His eagerness to aid Langdon and Sophie in decoding the cryptex and discovering the Grail is interpreted by them as scholarly interest, but his true motives are soon revealed. At the climax of the novel, he finally identifies himself as the Teacher, the one responsible for the murders, the one who has manipulated Silas and Aringarosa, and the architect behind the entire plan to find the Holy Grail.
President of the Paris Depository Bank of Zurich, André Vernet is eager to keep his name out of the headlines. He helps Langdon and Neveu escape his bank, which has never been the subject of scandal. He turns out to have been a very close friend of Saunière's, entrusted to guard the safety box the Grand Master had stored in his bank.