An unusual Renaissance-era depiction of the Last Supper is featured on the holy card for the 2021 Eucharistic Congress.
“The Last Supper” is an oil on canvas painted by Benedetto Caliari in the second half of the 16th century. Now on display at the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice, the painting illustrates not one but two moments from when Jesus gathered the apostles for the Passover meal: instituting the Eucharist, portrayed in the foreground, and washing the feet of His disciples, pictured in the background.
The painting directly connects to the theme for this year’s Eucharistic Congress, chosen by Bishop Peter Jugis: “As I Have Loved You,” taken from the Gospel of John 13:34.
In St. John’s Gospel, what’s known as the “Book of Glory” begins with Chapter 13. In this chapter we are invited to understand the “Washing of the Feet,” the Last Supper/Holy Mass and the “New” Commandment to love with divine love.
After having washed their feet, Jesus tells His disciples: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“In His instruction, Our Lord assures us that it is possible for us to love with divine, supernatural love, His Godly love!” explains Father Roger Arnsparger, vicar of education for catechetical formation and chairman of the Eucharistic Congress planning committee.
“This is possible through baptism, the grace of the Mass and the other sacraments. Like St. Peter, we allow Our Lord to serve us with His glory and grace in the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist and all the sacraments so that we can love as He loves.”
The artist, Benedetto Caliari (1538-1598), was an Italian painter who was born into a family of artists, although his older brother Paolo (known as Veronese) is more famous. Originally from Verona, the Caliari family set up a successful workshop in Venice where they served a customer base of Church leaders, city officials and wealthy merchants. Benedetto often collaborated with his brother on major works, but his own works were not as popular. He gained a reputation as an architectural painter, and the prominent architectural columns in this painting are one of his signature features.
The painting hangs in the Chapel of the Rosary in the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, one of the largest churches in Venice. The minor basilica is dedicated to John and Paul – not the apostles, but two martyrs of the early Church in Rome, whose names were recorded in the fourth century but whose legend is of a later date.
The 17th annual Eucharistic Congress is scheduled for Sept. 17-18, 2021, at the Charlotte Convention Center. The popular annual event – an opportunity for people across the Diocese of Charlotte to come together for Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, educational talks and fellowship – was held virtually last fall because of the pandemic.
— Catholic News Herald