The Last Supper


The traditional Passover (see also Passover) meal that Jesus ate with the Apostles the night before his death. At this supper, according to the Gospels, Jesus blessed bread and broke it, telling the disciples, “Take, eat; this is my body.” He then passed a cup of wine to them, saying, “This is my blood.” Jesus' words refer to the Crucifixion he was about to suffer in order to atone for humankind's sins. He told the Apostles, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

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notes for The Last Supper

The actions of Jesus at the Last Supper are the basis for the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion, or the Eucharist, in which the faithful partake of bread and wine.

notes for The Last Supper

The Last Supper is the subject of a famous fresco by Leonardo da Vinci, which depicts Jesus Christ and his Apostles seated along one side of a long table.

Cultural definitions for The Last Supper (2 of 2)

The Last Supper

A fresco painted by Leonardo da Vinci depicting Jesus and his disciples at the moment Jesus announces that one of them has betrayed him. (See under “The Bible.”)

notes for The Last Supper

Restoration of the deteriorating fresco has caused great controversy. Some art critics claim that the colors are now “too bright” and that Leonardo's original work has been mutilated. The restoration has been open to the public on a limited basis since 1999.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.