Thursday, April 1, 2010
"Do this in memory of me." (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
Without thinking twice, I hopped the train from Geneva, Switzerland to Milan, Italy. It's not every day you get to see what I consider to be the world's most famous fresco painting. It was my first trip to Europe and who knew that I'd go back twice more, but I couldn't take a chance. What's an eight-hour round-trip train ride to Milan (where I had been earlier that week), the day before I was to fly out of Geneva to return to the United States?
It was long before the 15-minute viewing rule or needing a ticket to see it. And, it was yet another time when the locals had no idea what I was saying.
"The Last Supper," I repeated to each passerby who would shake their heads back and forth in bewilderment.
I would have saved myself 20 minutes (I never use a guide book and love spontaneity) had I thought of it earlier.
"Leonardo da Vinci," I said and like magic I heard the words "L'Ultima Cena" and "Il Cenacolo."
It was down some side street in the middle of nowhere in a residential area. I still marvel at the tiny building and the magnitude of what was inside.
An old woman took me to a room, pointed to the wall (there was scaffolding up due to renovations of the fresco), and left me to enjoy it alone.
Maybe I was there an hour. Maybe two. It was in full view and when I look back now, it seems like a dream. I was standing in the refectory at Santa Maria delle Grazie church where the monks used to dine.
Da Vinci painted the exact moment that Jesus said to his disciples "One of you will betray me."
I bought a poster and a book on the history of the fresco, which I still have, and every Holy Thursday, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I stop for a moment to reflect on "L'Ultima Cena."