THE RIGHT REVEREND MONSIGNOR
MICHAEL DAVID CONNELLY LLD
PASTOR OF ST. BASIL’S CHURCH
MEMBER OF THE ARCHBISHOP’S COUNCIL
WHO FELL ASLEEP IN THE LORD
AUGUST 19 1932 IN THE FIRST YEAR OF HIS LIFE
THE FIFTY FIRST YEAR OF HIS PRIESTHOOD
“THE GREATEST THE NOBLEST PRIEST WE HAVE
EVER KNOWN” — ARCHBISHOP HANNA
MAY HE REST IN PEACE
The monument for Monsignor Connelly in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, California, pays tribute to the priest with a reproduction in stone of Leonardo DaVinci’s famous masterpiece of “The Last Supper.”
Da Vinci began the work in Milan in 1495. It was a time in Da Vinci’s lifetime when he had earned a reputation of not being able to finish a work for which he received a commission. Da Vinci needed this commission and he needed to complete it to redeem his much-sullied reputation.
The work he completed is a depiction of Jesus’s last meal with his disciples. During that meal he revealed that one of the 12 would betray him. He also instructed the disciples to drink the wine and eat the bread in remembrance of Him—which became the basis for the Eucharist. This event in the Bible is so important that all four of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—write about it.
The work itself is a nod to Da Vinci’s love of order and symmetry. The painting was laid out on a horizontal line with Jesus in the middle of the design—side to side and bottom to top. In addition to that, the painting is well balanced, with six of the disciples on one side of Jesus and six on the other—everything perfectly in balance and harmony. The painting is imbued with symbolism as well, much of it well known and much of it speculative. Judas, for instance, is the disciple who is shown next to a split container of salt. Spilled salt, like many symbols, has more than one meaning and, thus, open for interpretation. Consequently, the spilled salt could symbolize bad luck, or a lack of faith, or that Jesus was and is the salt of the Earth. Judas was also the disciple who betrayed Jesus—was the salt Da Vinci’s way of revealing that?
Unfortunately, Da Vinci, while in complete control of his composition skills, was not a master fresco painter. Because of that, Da Vinci experimented by painting on dry plaster whereas an experienced fresco painter would have applied the paint directly on wet plaster. His experiment has not passed the test of time—his original is badly damaged, with paint flaking off. Many attempts have been made to restore the iconic painting but it continues to deteriorate. DaVinci’s Last Supper is one of the most reproduced works of art in history—including reproductions that were made shortly after the original was completed. Hopefully, those reproductions, as well as the one in stone in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, will help Da Vinci’s original live on.