Leonardo Da Vinci, The Singer, and the Beggar.
When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece The Last Supper, we are told that he spent a long time searching for a man he could use as a model for his portrait of Jesus Christ.
At last, Leonardo's eyes fell on a young man who sang in the choir of one of Rome's churches. This young man was strikingly beautiful in physical appearance. He also had a pure and blameless character and life. His name was Pietro Bandinelli. So the great artist hired him, and Pietro Bandinelli became Leonardo's model for his portrait of Christ.
Years passed. Still The Last Supper was not completed. Leonardo had now painted all the disciples of Christ except one – Judas Iscariot, who betrayed his Master. So Leonardo now began the thankless task of searching for a man who could act as a model for his portrait of Judas. He needed to find someone whose face was hardened and distorted by evil, a sort of living human devil.
At last, as Leonardo walked the streets of Rome, his eyes fell on a certain beggar. This man's face was so full of evil, so inhuman and distorted with diabolical malice, that merely gazing at him made Leonardo shudder.
Still, this was what Leonardo had been looking for. So the great artist approached the beggar, hired him, and had him sit in Leonardo's studio as a model. Leonardo painted his portrait of Judas Iscariot, thus completing The Last Supper.
When he had finished, Leonardo paid the beggar, and was about to send him away, when he remembered something and stopped. “By the way,” the artist said, “I never did learn your name. Who are you?”
The beggar looked at Leonardo with his evil face and eyes and replied:
“Don't you recognise me? I am the man who sat for your portrait of Christ. My name is Pietro Bandinelli.”
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Human nature can, by the grace of God, rise to heights of spiritual beauty, and fall by sin into depths of monstrosity. Towards one or other of those destinies each soul is journeying.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”