This detail of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Super,' can be admired beginning May 28, when the painting will be reopened for viewing, after 20 years of restoration by Pinin Brambilla Barcilon. Before the restoration, many details were lost, as the work of art had greatly deteriorated. A very special and studied lighting was necessary not to damage the work, with sources of heat which could cause condensation of humidity on the surface.
The challenge was to rediscover the artist's original colors. It is something accomplished in our day which, in the past, would be condemned as hyper-realism. Today it is a must in restoration work; it has given new life to discoveries such as Michelangelo's Last Judgement.
'The Last Supper' is focused on the moment Christ announces Judas' betrayal. Da Vinci depicts the reaction of the apostles to the famous words, "one of you will betray me."
In order to view the work, which is in the refectory of the Milanese Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, an appointment is necessary. Visits are organized in groups of a maximum of 30 persons for 15 minutes. Before entering, visitors must pass through "filtration zones," spaces where the air is "purified" to avoid dust or contaminating agents being brought in which could damage the painting. ZE99052710
Pointing out that the history of Ancona ties that city to the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine traditions, the Holy Father used the 1000th anniversary celebration of the Ancona cathedral to emphasize the need for unity in Europe, stretching across the continent from West to East. He remarked that just across the Adriatic Sea from Ancona, the "implacable violence" of war is tearing apart the former republics of Yugoslavia-- in fighting which he said represents "a defeat for humanity."
The Pope also mentioned the many other, especially on the African continent, who are "paying an unacceptable cost in human lives, hunger, misery, and humiliation" because of "fratricidal conflicts which often ignore public sentiments." He urged all political leaders to fulfill their duties in "safeguarding human rights," and prayed that humanity in general would find "the courage for reconciliation."
After his appearance at the city's cathedral, the Pope visited a hospital in Ancona, where he again spoke of the Balkan conflict. "Even the hospitals themselves have not been spared from the results of the conflict there," he said. He again spoke out against "fratricidal hatred," which he said is "a more serious evil" and "the foremost sickness of the spirit," for which the only cure is "conversion, pardon, and reconciliation."
On June 7-- the third day of his 12- day stay in Poland-- the Pope will preside at the beatification of Father Stefan Wicenty Frelichowski, in a ceremony in the northern town of Torun. Father Frelichowski was serving as a pastor in Torun in 1939 when he was arrested by the Nazi regime, ultimately to be imprisoned at Dachau until his death. In 1944, when typhoid fever swept through that concentration camp, he ignored a quarantine in order to bring spiritual and material comfort to those who were ill. He contracted the disease himself, and died in the prison-camp hospital in February 1945-- just before Allied troops arrived to liberate the prisoners.
Six days after that ceremony, the Pope will beatify a group of 110 other Poles, in a ceremony that will take place in Warsaw. The June 13 ceremony will include the beatification of 108 more Catholic victims of the Nazi campaign against the Church-- including three bishops (Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, Leon Wetmanski, and Wladyslaw Goral), nine lay people, and 96 religious who were imprisoned because of their faith and died in concentration camps. Also beatified that day will be Sister Regina Protmann (1552-1613), who founded a congregation dedicated to care for the sick; and Edmund Bojanowski (1814- 1871), an educator who devoted himself to care for poor children.
Finally, on June 16-- the final day of his visit-- the Pope will canonize Sister Cunegonde (1234-1292) in the town of Stary Sacz. Commonly known today as Blessed Kinga, she was the wife of a Duke of Krakow, who devoted herself to the spiritual and physical health of her subjects, helping the region to recover in the wake of a Tartar invasion. Blessed Kinga brought Franciscan monasteries into the area, and in 1288, after the death of her husband, she entered a convent in Stary Sacz which she herself had helped to found.
According to the Cardinal, in the current negotiations "the duty of Christians is to be agents of peace, because peace is the destiny of peoples."
The other great obligation of Christians, and of the international community, is to help the refugees. To date, only "temporary solutions" have been given. "These people have a right to return to their land. We constantly stress this. Therefore, we hope the Belgrade government will understand that it cannot continue on the path of violations of people's rights. The Pope has made this appeal on numerous occasions. We hope his voice will be heard."
The international community should also do more to pursue peace. "It is not enough to avoid war. Ways of coexistence must be found. All diplomatic actions on the part of nations, of international organisms and of people of good will must be oriented to this end."
In commenting on the Pope's endeavors in search for peace, Cardinal Sodano said that during the 20 years of his pontificate, John Paul II "has held high the flag of peace, leaving the technical issues to governments, as each one has his area of competence. The Cardinal concluded: "The war must end!" ZE99053003
In a joint communiqué, the government and Polish bishops stated "everything was carried out in a dignified and peaceful way."
Both the Warsaw authorities and the Catholic Church's hierarchy had done everything possible to solve the problem quickly. The Polish bishops had expressed their position clearly in a statement saying "no one may abuse the sacred sign of the cross and use it against the Church in Poland to provoke disorders and conflicts."
The main difficulty in the removal of the crosses was of a judicial nature. The land on which a large cross commemorating 152 Polish fighters who were killed in 1940 before the beginning of the Holocaust was rented by Carmelite nuns from a businessman who was intent on causing a national incident. It is now known that this person was an agent of the communist security services. The nuns left the land at the explicit request of the Jewish community.
The problem was resolved thanks to a new law on the custody of places of extermination, approved by Parliament three weeks ago. It came into force on May 25. The measure establishes a 100-meter area of respect around all the former concentration camps in Poland.
Both the Church and the government were aware that peaceful coexistence in the country was under threat because of the "provocation" of the crosses. This led the government authorities to act rapidly, as John Paul II's visit to his native land begins next Saturday.
The large cross, erected in memory of the 152 Polish fighters who lost their lives in this field, will remain standing. It was at this very spot, in fact, that in 1979 the Pope knelt in prayer, during his first pilgrimage to Poland. ZE99053004