Leonardo da Vinci

 

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The story of the painting, The Last Supper, is extremely interesting and instructive. The two incidents connected with it afford a most convincing lesson on the effects of right thinking or wrong thinking in the life of a boy or girl, or of a man or a woman.

The Last Supper was painted by Leonardo da Vinci, a noted Italian artist; and the time engaged for its completion was seven years.

The figures representing the twelve Apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first.

When it was decided that da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin.

Finally, after weeks of laborious searching, a young man nineteen years of age was selected as a model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months, da Vinci worked on the production of this leading character of his famous painting.
During the next six years, da Vinci continued his labors on this sublime work of art. One by one fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven Apostles; space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece. This was the Apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, worth in our present day, currency of $16.96.

For weeks, da Vinci searched for a man with a hard callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime; a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend.

After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met his requirements had been found in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.

Da Vinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun. There da Vinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man; his long, shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which betrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last, the famous painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.

By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the picture was being painted; and for months he sat before da Vinci at appointed hours each day as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting to his painting this base character in the picture representing the traitor and betrayer of our Savior. As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, “I have finished. You may take the prisoner away.”

As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to da Vinci, crying as he did so, “O, da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?”

Da Vinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, “No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome.”

Then, lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, “Oh, God, have I fallen so low?” Then turning his face to the painter he cried, “Leonardo da Vinci! Look at me again for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ.”

 

Of course this story is fictional.  But what it says is , no matter how old or young we are, the appearance of our face can often show the condition of our souls.  I have seen rugged, scared, weathered, beaten faces that when they smile , still shine with the love of God.   I have also seen young wrinkle free faces with eyes as cold as ice and bitter smiles full of both fear and hate.  The good news, however, is that it is never too late to change your face, your heart and your life.  It is never too late to fill your soul with love and let it shine through your eyes and actions.  It is never too late to turn your anger creases to laugh lines.  I pray that no matter what journey life takes you on, that your face always shines with love.  I pray it is a face of kindness, goodness, gentleness, helpfulness, hopefulness and joy.  I pray it is a refection of God’s love for us all.  May your own life always sparkle with goodness and God.  May your eyes always shine with the light of joy.  May everyone who sees you, SEE God.

 

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