-  -  - 
Leonardo, the enigma
I had to take my search for the answer to these questions in a direction never traveled by art historians.Da Vinci was someone who never passed unnoticed. Tall, muscular, with long hair and the build of a giant, he always dressed in white and had some very strange habits for his time.He was never known to pair up with anybody –male or female—and was never seen to eat meat. His manias as a painter were no less eccentric: despite the fact that his best patrons were religious orders, he never painted a crucifixion. It was as if he abhorred the cross as a religious symbol. What is certain is that all these peculiarities are difficult to come across in any single individual…unless he were a Cathar. In effect, the bonhommes or “men of purity,” whom the Dominicans persecuted with so much zeal in Languedoc, were supposedly exterminated at Montségur, in 1244. Today, however, historians acknowledge that numerous Catharist families took refuge in Lombardy, near Milan, where their cult survived in relative peace until the XVth century. Was this where Leonardo established contact with them? Only that would satisfactorily explain some of the artistic anomalies of the Tuscan: the Cathars believed that Jesus was, above all, a man. And Leonardo portrayed him as such in the Cenacolo. They abominated sex, considering everything related to the body as somehow Satanic.Their diet, vegetarian, excluded any food resulting from coitus.Curiously, fish was exempted from this ban; they believed that fish did not procreate through sexual intercourse and therefore permitted its consumption.And as if these clues weren’t enough, the Cathars only recognized one sacrament: the consolamentum.Thus they dubbed the ceremony in which the aspirant to purity was subjected to a sort of laying of hands by the perfect or guide of his community.And isn’t this, the laying of hands, what in reality Jesus appears to be performing in Leonardo’s “Last Supper”?
When I finally managed to obtain the necessary permissions in Milan to actually visit the Cenacolo, Iunderstood everything. The base of its design is at a certain height from the floor, as if to permit a person to stand beneath the figure of the Messiah and receive his “Consolation.” Not the Eucharist. For the Cathars, what Jesus inaugurated that night was a much more powerful and revolutionary sacrament. Its secret had been concealed in the only place where no one would ever look for it: in full view of all. It was –I have no doubt, now, whatsoever—the cleverest of riddles ever posited by the genius of Leonardo.