What is the greater sin? Killing one's enemy? Or standing idle while your true love is strangled?
~ Carlo Ventresca explains his acts

Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca was the Camerlengo of Vatican City and the main antagonist of Dan Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons.

He was a Camerlengo who planned to alert the world to the Church and brainwash everybody into following the Church again because he thought everyone had become too devoted to science. He kidnapped and killed four cardinals from the Vatican in order to make his point.

In the 2009 film of the same name, the character's name is changed to Patrick McKenna.


Carlo was orphaned at a young age when terrorists dropped a bomb on his town's church. His mother was killed in the explosion. Carlo Ventresca never knew his biological father, so he believed he was orphan, or a miracle birth, like Jesus. His mother was responsible for inciting fanaticism into him, as she kept saying "God has great plans for you." Carlo survived the terrorist attack on the church, and he was met in hospital by the man who was in actuality his biological father, yet Carlo did not know this at the time. The man, a cardinal, adopted Carlo Ventresca and later the man became Pope. Carlo then rose to become the Pope's camerlengo.


Carlo Ventresca was disgusted at the Pope's admiration of science. He didn't understand why a holy man and a man of faith could love technology and show gratitude for scientists such as those at CERN. When the Pope went to CERN to see some newly discovered antimatter particles, the Pope was amazed and proclaimed antimatter to be proof of God, thus confirming Genesis. Upon return, the Pope told the camerlengo of his discovery and he expected the camerlengo to rejoice, but Carlo Ventresca was sickened by the Church becoming devoted to science. Then, the Pope told Carlo a shocking secret: Carlo Ventresca was the Pope's son, yet Carlo, in rage, did not hear this: he only heard that the Pope had conceived, thus seemingly breaking holy vows. Carlo did not know that this was, in fact, an artificial conception, because the Pope had fallen in love with Carlo's mother and they had learned of artificial conception which meant sex was obsolete. And thus no holy vows were broken. But all Carlo heard was of the Pope's "conception" and his seemingly broken vows.

Carlo Ventresca went mad and called out to God in the Vatican's Necropolis, calling for God to pass judgement on all the sinners in the world. God seemingly answered, asking Carlo to die for Him and humanity, just like God's son. Carlo believed he heard God give him orders, which were allegedly to kill the Pope as a first test. Carlo sneaked in to the Pope's bedroom and killed him with his own drug. The Pope was about to tell Carlo of the fact it was an artificial conception, but the camerlengo knew the Pope had said enough.


The camerlengo contacted an assassin, a Muslim man who had always sought revenge on the Church, and employed him to kidnap four cardinals from the Vatican during the following papal election. As this was a public event, the camerlengo knew he would get the world's attention. The camerlengo had the assassin break into CERN and kill Leonardo Vetra, a top scientist, and steal his antimatter canister. The assassin returned the canister to the camerlengo, and Carlo Ventresca placed the canister in St Peter's tomb in the Necropolis. In the Necropolis, the antimatter bomb began ticking. The assassin, on Carlo's orders, also stole a CERN camera and placed it in the Necropolis to display live footage of doomsday. The assassin then kidnapped four cardinals and held them in the secret headquarters of the Illuminati, an ancient brotherhood sworn to destroy the Vatican.

Unveiling the Illuminati

Carlo Ventresca announced the Pope's death and had the election begin, albeit without the favourite cardinals, whom he had had kidnapped. With the election underway, Leonardo Vetra's adopted daughter Vittoria and an American symbologist Robert Langdon were on route to the Vatican, as Vittoria needed to retrieve the canister before it exploded, and they were given a detour by the camerlengo, who pretended to sympathize with them, and announced to the world that the infamous Illuminati were back again to destroy the Church. Robert Langdon and Vittoria hunted around Rome for the assassin, whom they failed to catch, but they rescued the corpses of three of the cardinals whom the assassin had killed. Upon the third cardinal's death, the assassin kidnapped Vittoria, just when Carlo made a speech to the world about how the Church was human too and not just a stone building and how it deserved the world's friendship. In the same speech he said about how immoral science was and how it had not won fairly. He then chose to let the bomb tick down and have the cardinals escorted out before its detonation time of midnight. The bomb was found and retrieved however, by Robert Langdon and Vittoria after they'd confronted and killed the assassin after he'd killed the fourth cardinal, and then Carlo rode the helicopter up skywards and parachuted out before the bomb went off. Langdon had gone up with Carlo in the helicopter yet had no parachute, so he just free-fell all the way and yet survived when he landed on an island in Rome reputed to have healing powers.

In hospital, Robert Langdon discovered that Carlo was the mastermind behind the plot, and although the Vatican had been saved, corruption was still present and needed unearthing. So Robert Langdon and Vittoria revealed that Carlo had hired the assassin to kill the cardinals and wanted to risk blowing up the Vatican. The cardinals were horrified and ashamed that a priest would want to do such atrocities, and an argument ensued wherein it was revealed that Carlo Ventresca was the Pope's son. Ashamed of killing his own father and overwhelmed with confusion, Carlo Ventresca marched up to the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square and made everyone face him, then poured oil over himself and immolated himself.

His ashes were later buried with the other Popes, because he had been elected by adoration of the masses when he survived the fall from the helicopter and had become the shortest-reigning Pope of the Vatican.