Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, The Last Supper, continues to be hotly debated. Does it really depict Mary Magdalene instead of John the Apostle, thereby subtly revealing the Catholic Church’s biggest and most arduously kept secret? Let’s have a gander at the evidence…
Hello all! After a short break, the blog is back, and this week I’m looking at one of my favourite conspiracy theories: that the Roman Catholic Church is founded on a morbidly obese lie. Jesus wasn’t divine. He was just a normal bloke with a wife and kids, and a bloodline that continues in secret to this day.
Everyone in the world knows this story thanks to Dan Brown, author of 2003’s The Da Vinci Code, which popularised the idea that Mary Magdalene makes a surprise appearance in The Last Supper. The notion that Jesus and Mary were an item actually dates back to the 1982 book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. This book hypothesised that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had some sprogs, and that a secret society called the Priory of Sion has protected the descendants of those sprogs ever since. It also suggested that one of the Priory’s 15th century members was Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci.
However, it was the 1997 book, The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, which first claimed that Leonardo had inserted a secret message into his depiction of Jesus’s last meal before his crucifixion.
Most art historians believe that the person sitting on Jesus’s right is John the Apostle. The Templar Revelation claimed that it is actually Mary Magdalene. Certainly, the figure is very effeminate and could easily be a woman. The book points out other clues: the positioning of Mary and Jesus’s bodies forms an ‘M’ for ‘Magdelane’, and the two are dressed in similar but oppositely coloured clothes — mirror images of each other.
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, one of the many inspirations for my novel, Million Eyes, is a conspiracy thriller based on the theories posited in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and The Templar Revelation. (My short review of the movie appears in this article.) Brown refers to other clues. For instance, on the table where Jesus and his apostles are sitting, the chalice of wine is missing. This is the chalice that’s been dubbed the Holy Chalice or the Holy Grail.
Brown asserts that the reason the chalice is missing is because Leonardo was trying to tell the world that the Holy Grail was not a cup. The Holy Grail was a woman: Mary Magdalene herself. And as the ancient symbol of womanhood also happens to be a chalice (i.e. the shape of a woman’s womb), Leonardo presented this in the painting. Mary and Jesus are leaning away from each other, with the negative space between them forming a ‘V’ or chalice shape.
What to make of all this? Well, according to the gospels that made it into the New Testament, Mary was present at the Last Supper, but she was foot-washing, not eating with the men. Not that we can trust the gospels, though. As I discussed in a previous article, the gospels are not reliable historical records in any sense of the word. (There’s also a ton of non-canonical gospels that were cut out of the Bible because they weren’t consistent with the story the Catholic Church wanted to tell.)
Yes, the clues are compelling and the person next to Jesus does look much more like a woman than a man. But so does the second figure on the left, who is supposed to Jesus’s apostle, James. This is partly why most scholars and historians have rejected the Mary Magdalene theory; there just isn’t enough proof that Leonardo was trying to tell us something. And the Priory of Sion itself is widely regarded as a hoax from the 60s, which the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail mistook for a real historical organisation (in future articles, I will look at the Priory of Sion in more depth…).
It’s a fascinating idea that Leonardo da Vinci was part of a secret order covering up the truth about Jesus Christ, and was subtly revealing that truth to the world via cryptic messages in his artwork. But there just isn’t enough evidence that The Last Supper harbours these messages. It comes down to a bunch of neatly-wound-together coincidences and seeing what you want to see.
That being said, do I believe that Jesus was the son of God? No, of course not. God’s a fallacy, a myth, an easy answer to all the really tough questions we have about the universe, and Jesus was just a bloke who happened to be a good speaker capable of inspiring people to follow him. So do I think it at least possible that Jesus banged Mary Magdalene—or anyone else for that matter—and fathered children?
Next week: the true story of Rudolph Fentz
9 thoughts on “Is that really Mary Magdalene in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”?”
Well.. it looks like a woman to me.
Well, very interesting . I believe it is a woman and has similarities with other da Vinci female image most famously Mona Lisa.
But more interesting I think is the appearance of a baby on judas shoulder clearly Andrew is surprised to see him. Is that the holy grail !!!!! Maybe one for a future blog Chris
Well done on another geart blog👍👍👍
Mmmm I can’t see any baby! But I will investigate this idea further in a future blog. Apparently there are a number of other oddities that have been discovered in ‘The Last Supper’…
Thanks for the comment Dean! 😄
I believe the image isn’t Mary Magdalene nor John, but a tribute to the favorite mistress of Leonardo’s patron who commissioned The Last Supper — Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan — il Moro (“The Moor”). Cecilia Gallerani was also a great patron of the arts and credited as starting salons — the assembly of great minds of arts, culture, politics, etc. to discuss concerns and issues of the day. Leonardo’s “Lady with an Ermine” is Cecilia Gallerani, one of only 4 works he did of women.
An interesting theory! Thanks for your comment 🙂
Ok, this is directed to you, Mr. CR Berry, first of all, ‘Jesus Banged Mary Magdalena or any one else?” Secondly, what makes you think that Leonardo Davinci who lived fourteen-fifteen centuries after the death, burial and resurrections of (Yeshua) Jesus (Alohim) be considered a credible witness to such satanic non-facts? You Sir, base all of your theories on a inaccurate painting, of a man who was not there, Jerusalem, Israel, and Rome, Italy are two different countries, two different cultures, 2,707 miles away from each other, and in Leonardo’s time, there were no automobiles, people traveled by ship, horses. By horse back, it would have taken Leonardo almost half a year to travel to Jerusalem in his day. The disciples and Jesus was black men, not white, neither were they homosexuals. Jesus were and still is, holy, and will for ever reign!!! Please reply Sir, you threw it out there.
Thanks for your comment! Of course, let’s remember that none of what was written about Jesus was written by “credible witnesses” either. We don’t even know who Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were, and they certainly weren’t writing at the time. And their accounts have major inconsistencies with one another. Barely any of what people claim to “know” about Jesus can be considered historical.
I think this article (by a pastor) makes much more sense.
Johan was young, which is probably why he was painted as rather feminine. Da Vinci was known for painting rather feminine young men as well. Plus, the clothing is very similar to what Jesus was wearing, doesn’t that indicate it was considered male clothing at the time?
As the pastor in the above article suggests, I think their is far more biblical evidence that Jesus was in a relationship with ‘John the Beloved’ (which the Bible actually calls him) than Mary.
Fascinating! It’s not every day you hear a pastor talking honestly about Jesus being gay. Thanks for sharing!