The Da Vinci Code filming forbidden by Church

Shooting on the film adaptation of Dan Brown's runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code at Lincoln Cathedral began Tuesday against the backdrop of demonstrations outside by Catholics who take exception to Brown's "heresy".

The novel has drawn strong protests from the Roman Catholic Church, and the movie version has fanned whispers of discontent in Lincoln, where Tom Hanks and the crew were filming Tuesday, AP reports.

"To a believer, any believer, what is happening is blasphemous," said a woman identifying herself as Sister Mary Michael, who held a solo prayer vigil outside the medieval cathedral.

Lincoln Cathedral is doubling for London's Westminster Abbey, which categorically refused filming permission to the film's makers, saying that the book was "theologically unsound". Lincoln Cathedral, however, allowed shooting for two weeks after the film's producers made a Ј100,000 donation to the cathedral, according to Guardian.

The novel, condemned by the Vatican and Anglican church leaders for distorting the Christian message, postulates that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children by her, but Christians are taught that Christ never married and was childless when he was crucified.

Tom Hanks, who plays protagonist Professor Robert Langdon in the film, had to be chauffeur-driven the short distance from his five-star hotel to the historic location, where he briefly waved at a small gathering of fans who vied with demonstrators for his attention before disappearing inside.

Lincoln Cathedral, located about 100 miles north of London, is known for its "spooky atmosphere". Its nave, cloister and chapter house have been temporarily altered to resemble Westminster Abbey for the shoot.

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