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June 6, 2010

The Real Da Vinci Code: What Really Happened at Leonardo’s Last Supper

The Real Da Vinci Code, Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, indicates Da Vinci’s hidden double meaning of his Last Supper: The Sacrifice and the Resurrection

This account is respectful of Christian beliefs. I wish to modify this account as I learn more. I would like to credit Leo Steinberg, author of “Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper” for several ideas in this article.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (the Da Vinci Man with four arms and four legs in a square and circle) is the most popular secular symbol in the world. My ten years of research suggests that the Vitruvian Man is a universal symbol for greater love, relationships, success, health and the new age 21st century paradigm of indivisible wholeness, the paradigm for world peace. The New Renaissance!

The Da Vinci Person also represents an integration of opposite values. Da Vinci’s Last Supper represents an integration of the two events of the Last Supper: Both the Betrayal of Jesus (the shock) and the Redemption (the awe, communion or Eucharist). Amazingly, Leonardo is able to portray both of these events, simultaneously, in the emotions of the Apostles; just like the Da Vinci Man is able to portray two opposite values, the square (our sacrifice in the material realm) and the circle (our renaissance or rebirth in the spiritual realm).

The Da Vinci Man with arms outspread symbolizes the sacrifice (the Betrayal). Da Vinci Man with arms uplifted symbolizes the Resurrection (the communion).

Hence,(a) the geometry, and (b) the meaning of the Da Vinci Man is a secret code to understand the meaning of Leonardo’s Last Supper.

1) There is a claim in The Da Vinci Code that there is no Holy Grail or cup through which Jesus offered the communion. On the contrary, Jesus and each Apostle have a small cup of wine.

2) The cup is small and not an ostentatious or grandiose goblet because Leonardo wanted to represent the Last Supper as a simple affair. This is equivalent to the simple dining used by the Dominicans in the refectory (dining hall) of Santa Marie delle Grazie, Milan, the location of Da Vinci’s Last Supper. This church, incidentally, was partially built by Bramante, the designer of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Bramante adored Leonardo’s work and wrote poems about him.

3) The simple cups and tableware, similar to those used by the Dominican Friars, fulfilled the desire of Jesus to “always be among you.” The Dominican Friars could, therefore, feel they were dining along with Jesus and the Apostles.

4) The expressions of the Apostles not only represent one of shock over the announcement by Jesus of the betrayal, they also demonstrate an awe and acceptance of the communion.

5) To the left of Jesus we have two groupings of three: St Thomas, James the Major and Philip represent one group. Matthew, Thaddeus and Simon represent the other.

6) Thomas, James and Philip are grouped together because they were the favorite apostles of Florence, Leonardo’s home for several years.

7) Thaddeus and Simon confer together because they are brothers who were present as shepherds at the birth of Jesus.

8) Thomas, the impulsive one, moves ahead of James the Major with his finger in the air. When Thomas heard Jesus was going back to Jerusalem he said, “Let us go, that we may die with Him.” His uplifted finger says, “This is the Will of God,” and “I knew it would be so.” It is also the finger that touches the wound of Jesus.

9) James the Major’s mouth is open in shock, but also in awe, receptive to the communion.

10) Philip places his hands on his breast to protest his innocence and display his anguish, but this is also a sign of accepting the communion.

11) Matthew’s hands point to Jesus in asking Simon what to make of the announcement by Jesus but they are also receptive of the communion.

12) One hand of Thaddeus points to the betrayer but both hands are also receptive of the communion.

13) Simon’s two hands indicate a sense of not knowing what to make of the announcement but they are also receptive of the communion.

14) One hand of Jesus is open, receptive of the surrender. The other hand of Jesus points to the wine and bread, announcing an intention to begin the communion.

15) The same hand is close to the dipping bowl, close to where the hand of Judas is, indicating who the betrayer is. This hand also reflects the human side of Jesus, recoiling a bit from both the Betrayal and the sacrifice. (”Let this cup pass from me,” just as the other hand indicates the surrender, “Thy Will be done.”)

16) The body of Jesus forms an equilateral triangle, indicating the Holy Trinity. His hands seem to reach out in three dimensions to the participants viewing the painting.

17) James the Major is on the left side of Jesus and John is on His right. This is because they are brothers. Their mother requested that one sit on the right side of Jesus and the other on His left, where they are the thunder of Jesus.

18) John leans back in a faint, accepting the fate of Jesus, yet folding his hands in quiet desperation.

19) The body of John is at the same angle as Jesus, as if in mirror image, indicating the closeness of their relationship. This is also reflected in the mirror-image color of their clothing.

20) John is next to Peter because they shared a ministry together.

21) Peter is next to Judas because they both evidenced a betrayal.

22) Peter whispers into John’s ear, asking him to ask Jesus who the betrayer is.

23) Peter holds a knife behind the back of Judas with which to possibly dispatch the betrayer (as he attempted to do when cutting off the ear of the Roman servant). A close examination indicates that Peter may actually be holding the wrist of a hand that holds the knife. The knife is also symbolic of the one Peter used to protect Jesus.

24) The same knife points to Bartholomew sitting at the table’s end. Bartholomew also rises with his feet transposed. These symbols indicate both the flaying and crucifixion of Bartholomew.

25) Bartholomew asks Andrew to explain what is going on. Andrew is in so much shock, he is in denial that such a betrayal could possibly happen. He may also be reacting to the knife pointed at Judas.

26) James the Minor, the brother or cousin of Jesus, touches Peter, reminding us that James and Peter were the first two Bishops of the church.

27) Leonardo Da Vinci was inclined to choose the act of betrayal. He felt betrayed many times in his career by people who envied him. He may have even been jailed for two months as a result of charges (that were dropped).

The Following is Speculative and I Wish to Modify It as I Learn More:
28) Another interpretation: the Last Supper was painted in the refectory (dining hall) of the Dominican Friars who venerated Mother Mary. The church, Santa Maria delle Grazie, was named in Mary’s honor. St. Dominic initiated the Rosary, which is still practiced today. The Rosary was highly regarded and recommended by Pope John Paul II. From the Dominican point of view, if there were to be any association with John, it would have been with Mother Mary.

29) John was also more associated with Mother Mary than Mary Magdalene. On the cross, Jesus told John to accept Mary as his mother (and take care of her, which he apparently did). This was also an instruction for all the Apostles to take care of Mary.

30) Mary is associated with Holy Spirit. Mary gave birth to Jesus via Holy Spirit.

31) In the Rosary, Mary is the Bride of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is married to the church, which is associated with Mary.

32) The Apostles stayed in the house of Mary for ten days before the Holy Spirit entered into them.

33) Therefore, the illustration may represent a mystical union between Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

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