In The Da Vinci Code, there are two characters that belong to the Opus Dei: Manuel Aringarosa and Silas. They are members of the religious group named Opus Dei or "work of God." The organization was made the personal prelature of the Pope in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. There are currently over 80,000 members in about 60 countries.
The founder of the Opus Dei was Josemaria Escriva in 1928 and he was canonized by the Pope on October 6, 2002. Escriva wrote a book called The Way and he states: "Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain...Glorified be pain." Ideas and statements like this are the reason why Opus Dei is such a controversial subject. There are even websites protesting Opus Dei, such as www.odan.org.
A part of the religion that is so controversial is corporal mortification. It was said that Escriva used to whip his back so harshly that his room walls would be splattered with blood (Cox, S. (2004). Cracking The Da Vinci Code. p. 120. Paragraph one.). An example of the corporal mortification used is the cilice belt, which is featured below this.
Opus Dei is Catholic but a stricter form of Catholicism. It is a stricter reading of the Scriptures and Gospels and members lead their lives according to them.
The picture above is their brand new headquarters in New York City, 243 Lexington Avenue. The 17-story building has no sign announcing the occupants inside.
A cilice belt is used in the novel, as Silas wears one around his thigh throughout most of the story.
A cilice belt is a spiked chain that is wore on the upper thigh for about two hours a day by members called Numeraries. Many won't admit to wearing the cilice belt because it is probably one of the most severe corporal mortification that they go through. It leaves small prick holes in the flesh, but Silas would have to have had it extremely tight to cause the wounds that he had in the novel.