THE DOMINICAN LAST SUPPER
Acrylic by: Cristobal Torres Iglesias, O.P.
St. Albert the Great Priory and Novitiate
FROM THE ARTIST:
Starting with Jesus in the center and moving counter-clockwise to each guest, the diners are:
- Jesus: It was important to me that Jesus look believable as a first century Palestinian Jew. He wears a prayer shawl, which Orthodox Jewish men still wear today for prayer on particular occasions.
- Mary Magdalene: Mary Magdalene is present as Apostle to the Apostles, the title by which she has been known for most of Christian history in the Eastern Churches; the first to preach the resurrection to her brothers and therefore the first preacher of the Gospel. The Dominicans on her side of the painting in some way express this active, ministerial dimension of the act of preaching.
- Bartolome de las Casas: His writing and activism in defense of the indigenous peoples of the Americas helped bring about reforms of Spanish imperial law. His preaching, writing and activism became part of a centuries-long and highly contentious moral, theological, and legal debate among Dominicans in Salamanca that in time resulted in the emergence of modern international law.
- Luis de Cancer: His passion and commitment to peacefully preaching the Gospel and respecting the cultures and languages of native peoples led to his martyrdom and that of his companions in Tampa Bay, Florida in 1549. He and his companions are the first Dominican martyrs in North America.
- Luis Beltran (or Louis Bertrand): Like las Casas and Cancer, he left Spain to dedicate much of his life to missionary work in the Americas, and he is also the patron saint of novice masters, due his many years serving in that ministry.
- Martin de Porres:The patron saint of our province, the cooperator brother Martin de Porres, born in Lima, Peru to a former slave from Panama and a Spanish nobleman. Known for his heroic care for the poor, the sick and the marginalized, Martin was revered and respected during his lifetime as a healer.
- Catherine of Siena: Mystic, straight-talking advisor to popes, and Doctor of the Church. Here, Catherine listens silently for what the Spirit would have her commit to her as yet blank page.
- Fra Angelico: The famous Florentine artist John of Fiesole, who some have called the last medieval painter and the first painter of the renaissance. Fra Aneglico’s portrait of the Virgin is a mirror in which the painter sees himself. Like the Blessed Virgin, all preachers are asked to be made pregnant with the Word of the Lord.
- Rose of Lima: Dominican laywoman and mystic, and friend of Martin de Porres. She gazes devotedly at the Lord she unapologetically adores as her bridegroom.
- Teresa Chicaba: Teresa Juliana de Santo Domingo, a seventeenth century African nun and former slave; today honored with the rank of Venerable by the Church. Kidnapped at the age of nine from her family in Africa and sold into slavery in Spain, Teresa was eventually granted freedom by her owners and entered religious life in a Dominican monastery in Salamanca. Her marginal status and poor treatment by her religious sisters , coupled with her experience as an African woman to who polygamy would have been familiar, are all reflected in her anguished experience of spousal mysticism and expressed in her poetry. Teresa is jealous of her divine spouse, and does not take kindly to having to share him with her sisters. She boldly expresses her unease over this in her poetry, a verse of which she shares with us on the scroll she unrolls for us to read: “Oh Jesus, what will I say? If you go off with other woman, what will I do?”
- Margaret of Castello: Abused, neglected and later exposed by her noble parents because they were ashamed of her many physical disabilities, Margaret became a lay Dominican and was greatly loved by the people of Castello, Italy for her heroic and joyful spirit, her immense charity and her wisdom.
- Lorenzo Ruiz: Husband, parent, and lay Dominican. Born in the Philippines to a native Filipina mother and a Chinese father, Ruiz was multilingual and did much translation work for the friars. When he was falsely accused of a crime the Dominicans, who believed in his innocence, found a way for him to leave the Philippines as a missionary. He was supposed to go on a mission to China but was mistakenly sent to Japan instead, during a particularly cruel persecution of Christians there. Ruiz was captured and brutally tortured for a year, eventually dying at the hands of his torturers. He is credited for having to them: “If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all for Christ.” In this painting, the anguished Ruiz intensely prays the rosary, steeling himself for what he knows he will endure.
- Catherine of Alexandria: Catherine represents the centrality of contemplative study to preaching and our way of life. She sets aside Greek scroll with a verse from the Book of Sirach that she has been studying, a Scripture proclaiming that before the world was formed, Wisdom was. She puts the scroll aside to gaze directly at Wisdom in Person. The figures on Catherine’s side of the table are depicted in such a way that they visibly express various dimensions of the life of prayer and /or study.