Rome churches shut to "Angels and Demons" filming

ROME Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:05pm BST

Tom Hanks (C) prepares for a scene on the set of the movie ''Angels and Demons'' during production near the Pantheon in Rome June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli

Tom Hanks (C) prepares for a scene on the set of the movie ''Angels and Demons'' during production near the Pantheon in Rome June 10, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Dario Pignatelli

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian Catholic Church has refused to let a new movie based on a Dan Brown novel be filmed in churches in Rome after the author's "The Da Vinci Code" novel and film outraged the Vatican.

"Angels and Demons," starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, is the prequel to Brown's best-selling novel. The book is set mostly in Rome and the Vatican.

Filming began this month at some of the capital's most famous sights including Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo, but entry was denied to the churches of Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria.

The two famous Rome churches are among around 700 places of worship that are owned by the Italian interior ministry and run by Italy's Church.

Archdiocese spokesman Rev. Marco Fibbi said the interior ministry had received a request from the film's producers to use the churches. The interior ministry asked the archdiocese for its opinion and it was negative.

"I don't think they would have asked us directly because they knew what the answer would be," Fibbi told Reuters.

"The Da Vinci Code" outraged the Vatican and some Catholics because of its storyline that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children, creating a royal blood line that Church officials kept secret for centuries.

Christians are taught that Jesus never married, was crucified and rose from the dead.

Santa Maria del Popolo is home of two masterpieces by Caravaggio -- "The Crucifixion of St. Peter" and "The Conversion of St. Paul."

Fibbi said permission to film in Italian churches is granted in exceptional circumstances and usually if the production is compatible with religious sentiment or if it is a documentary about religion or art.

(Reporting by Olivia Scarlett and Philip Pullella)