Summary: As Silas arrives at Saint-Sulpice, he reflects on the chain of events that led him to join Opus Dei. He had been a prisoner for more than a decade in Andorra, serving time for murder, when an earthquake struck, allowing him to escape his cell. He had a vision of Jesus during his flight. He fell unconscious, and awoke in a small village church, where he saved a priest—a priest who is now Bishop Aringarosa—from burglars. Aringarosa renamed the albino escapee Silas, after the story of the biblical Silas (in Acts 16), and recruited him for Opus Dei.
Analysis: This chapter attempts to develop Silas as a character, attributing his motivation for joining and his zealous service to Opus Dei as a response of gratitude for Aringarosa’s intervention in Silas’ life when Silas most needed it. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of a kindly bishop’s intervention on behalf of the escaped prisoner Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Miserables (1862): the bishop’s refusal to give up Valjean to the police leads to the escaped convict beginning a new life of righteousness. (In Silas’ case, in contrast, the devotion of his new life to committing murder on behalf of a church organization is one of questionable righteousness, at best.) The bestowal of the new name “Silas” on the albino is appropriate, as a new name often (both in the Bible and in other literature) signifies a new beginning. Silas’ earlier, hard life of crime and flight is connected to the father who abused his mother: the legacy (for good or for ill) of parents is one of the themes running throughout The Da Vinci Code.