Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Maundy Thursday

     The events of Maundy Thursday include foot washing and what has become known as the Institution of the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion.
    Somewhere between 1494-1498, Leonardo Da Vinci painted his masterpiece "The Last Supper" in the refectory (dining hall) of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy. Almost immediately it began to deteriorate so that by, as early as 1517, the paint began to flake.  One copy of that painting is by Giampietrino around 1520. This painting is thought to accurately reflect much of the detail now lost in the original.   It is reproduced below.  Below that is a remarkable poem by  Ranier Maria Rilke inspired by the daVinci original.  May these bless you this Holy Week.

Click to enlarge

The Last Supper, by Ranier Maria Rilke

They are assembled, astonished and disturbed
round him, who like a sage resolved his fate,
and now leaves those to whom he most belonged,
leaving and passing by them like a stranger.
The loneliness of old comes over him
which helped mature him for his deepest acts;
now will he once again walk through the olive grove,
and those who love him still will flee before his sight.

To this last supper he has summoned them,
and (like a shot that scatters birds from trees)
their hands draw back from reaching for the loaves
upon his word: they fly across to him;
they flutter, frightened, round the supper table
searching for an escape. But he is present
everywhere like an all-pervading twilight-hour.

Here they are gathered, wondering and deranged,
Round Him, who wisely doth Himself inclose,
And who now takes Himself away, estranged,
 From those who owned Him once, and past them
He feels the ancient loneliness to-day
That taught Him all His deepest acts of love;
Now in the olive groves He soon will rove,
And these who love Him all will flee away.

To the last supper table He hath led.
As birds are frightened from a garden-bed
By shots, so He their hands forth from the bread
Doth frighten by His word: to Him they flee;
Then flutter round the table in their fright
And seek a passage from the hall. But He
Is everywhere, like dusk at fall of night.

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