Leonardo da Vinci: The Last Supper (1494-1498)

(Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy)

Thursday is an important day during the Holy Week. Maundy Thursday is the day of the washing of the Feet and the last supper with the first Communion or Eucharist. According to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples had a meal at the cenacle on mount Zion to celebrate Pesach (a Jewish holy day which celebrates the exodus or the liberation of the Jewish people by God from slavery in Egypt). During this meal Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles (John 13:1-17 - If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them). Furthermore He also predicted that one of his disciples would betray him and that Peter would deny knowledge of him three times before the rooster crows the next morning. This famous mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci shows the moment that Jesus predicts his betrayal and the following consternation. Leonardo used a somewhat experimental method (he painted on a thin dry wall, instead on wet plaster) which caused the painting to deteriorate soon after it was completed. After only 60 years when it was completed, it was already considered 'ruined' (the door in the middle was cut in 1652). The painting has been restorated many times since then, the last in 1979-1999. The identity of the apostles have been identified from notes of Leonardo. From left to right: Bartholomew, James, son of Alphaeus, Andrew, Judas Iscariot (wearing blue and green), Peter John, Jesus, Thomas, James the Greater, Philip, Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot. Painting from 1494–1498.