Dr. Utr. Iur.


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First day, Light & Darkness

In 1990, physician Frank Meshberger published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association deciphering Michelangelo’s imagery with the stunning recognition that the depiction in God Creating Adam in the central panel on the ceiling was a perfect anatomical illustration of the human brain in cross section. Meshberger speculates that Michelangelo surrounded God with a shroud representing the human brain to suggest that God was endowing Adam not only with life, but also with supreme human intelligence.

At the age of 17 he began dissecting corpses from the church graveyard. We know that Michelangelo was a skilled anatomist.   But a lot of his scetches and drawings were destroyed by himself before his dead.

Human Spinal cord and brain stem

Anatomical elements ???

The voice box of God is the brain stem of man and the robe twist revealing the optic nerves from two eyes.

With all due respect for those neurosurgeons, maybe they take Michalangelo's art to far. But nothing is said that he indeed intended to do what they say. From that point of view it would also have the most and best theological consequences. Human mankind distinguish itself from other living beings by the use of speech, and a mind that can think in concepts.  The homo rationalis, who can use it's brain. It is worth a consideration that the vocal cords of the Lord is the brain stem.

If man is made after God, and "The Word was God, and the Word was the real Light that gives light to everyone", this distinguishes us from the animals and plants. We have the faculty of speech and using it  in to order concepts. Animals, with only an "Sensitive or Animal soul" can't do it. We are made after the image of God. We have intellect. He gave us the freedom how to use it. Like Amnesty international is saying: "a strike of a pencil can set people free !" One signature of a judge set a man free or condamn him to death. Our Word can be Light !! We have the choice. For the Good or for the bad. We have Brains, and therefore the brainstem is perfect. If it is going over in the robe of the creator in the form of eyes, like in the design of Leonardo da Vinci, even more. Only eyes can see the light. But here we are talking about spiritual Light: the Light of the first day. The inner Light that helps us to stay in grace. (look my article about Light and Grace: The Horns of Moses)

1 In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God.

2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.

4 What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men;

5 and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.

6 A man came, sent by God. His name was John.

7 He came as a witness, to bear witness to the light, so that everyone might believe through him.

8 He was not the light, he was to bear witness to the light.

9 The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him.

11 He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.

12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name

13 who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself.

14 The Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Images from "Concealed Neuroanatomy in Michelangelo’s Separation of Light From Darkness in the Sistine Chapel," by Ian Suk and Rafael J. Tamargo in Neurosurgery, Vol. 66, No. 5, pp. 851-861.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1487, Optic nerve

Suk and Tamargo propose that the hideous goiter-disfigured neck of God is not a mistake, but rather a hidden message.

I am quite agree with those neuro-anatonomists who wondered that a man as Michelangelo, who had studied the human body in detail, made here a rather clumsy presence. But often, scientists lost that spiritual background that people like Michelangelo had and trying to read such works through the eyes of Dan Brown who can see everywhere a conspiracy, maybe here a clash between science and religion ?

Michelangelo in his work didn't make a religious thriller. The author's are linking it with the movement of "Spiritualism". "Those had put a renewed emphasis on the grace which God send through faith," writes Church Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, "together with a consistent urge to reveal the Holy Spirit as the force conveying this grace""That would mean that there is also salvation outside the Church, as Calvin proclaimed". Vittoria Colonna together with Michelangelo belonged to those coteries of reformers, who got condamned by Paul IV - Caraffa during the Roman inquisition and who persecuted the "Spiritualists". Michelangelo lost his pension, and followers of Spiritualism got persecuted (even some cardinals). It was also that pope that ordered Daniele da Volterra to become the Breeches-maker of the Last Judgement.

There is something else odd about this picture. A role of fabric extends up the center of God’s robe in a peculiar manner. The clothing is bunched up here as is seen nowhere else, and the fold clashes with what would be the natural drape of fabric over God’s torso. In fact, they observe, it is the human spinal cord, ascending to the brain stem in God’s neck. At God’s waist, the robe twists again in a peculiar crumpled manner, revealing the optic nerves from two eyes, precisely as Leonardo Da Vinci had shown them in his illustration of 1487. Da Vinci and Michelangelo were contemporaries and acquainted with each other’s work. (R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D.)

This seems a plausible theory ... if not for the fact that the Roman Inquisition of Paul IV (1555-59) happend 43 yrs. after Michelangelo had finished The Creation. And it was 5 years after the Creation that Martin Luther officialy begon his protest. Clemens VII - De Medici(1523-34) didn't want to convoke a Council fearing that they would bring up his illegitimate birth. Paul III - Farnese did it in 1545, four years after Michelangelo finished the Last Judgement and 33 years after the Creation was finished.

Never forget that Michelangelo or Vittoria Colonna never were undermining the authority of the Pope or the Church like Martin Luther and Calvin did. What we know for sure is that Michelangelo always preferred a devotional and inward-looking form of Catholicism. And for sure he would have like to see some reform in the Church; a Church less preoccupied by earthly power. I can't deny that The first Day looks a bit clumsy. We know that he wanted to reform the Church, but not from outside like Luther, but through his art from inside.

Vasari gives us an account of the dialogue between the 35yrs. old Michelangelo and the fiercefull old pope Julius II after the scaffolding came down. Michelangelo was the first to break totally with the tradition to use god in sacred artworks ...

for better understanding open in another screen the page: "the timeline: The Life of Michelangelo"

The prologue (John I, 1-18), containing what is in a sense a brief epitome of the whole Gospel in the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. The Prologue of John is a sublime piece of world literature! In the Prologue, John identifies Jesus as the logos - λóγος, the Word or reason, the philosophical concept of God's unifying principle for all of creation.

Mosaic Basilica Saint Peter: saint John with eagle

"Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle."

Ezekiel 1:10

Michelangelo Study of Torso and Leg 1520

The neurosurgeons Ian Suk and Rafael J. Tamargo found another in the image of the Creator on the first day:

+ The voice box of God is the brain stem of man ??

+ and the robe revealing the optic nerves from two eyes ??

And he, Michelangelo, would have for sure contemplated the Bible. The genesis story start with the first day where the Lord divided Light from Darkness: this is Old Testament.It will find its fullfilling in the New Testament: The Word was the real Light that gives Light to everyone .... as we find back in the most spiritual of all gospels; the one of saint John .

His Holiness, often seeing Michelangelo, would say to him that the chapel should be enriched with colors and gold, since it looked poor. And Michelagnolo would answer familiarly, "Holy Father, in those times men did not bedeck themselves with gold, and those that are painted there were never very rich, but rather holy men, on which account they despised riches."

Man is created in the image of God, as he testifies in this vault, and in the sonnet ending:

Nè Dio, suo grazia, mi si mostra altrove,

Più che'n alcun leggiadro e mortal velo;

E quel sol amo, perchè'n quel si specchia.

Nor hath God deigned to show himself elsewhere

More clearly than in human form sublime

Which, since they image Him, alone I love

Anastaia Fontebuoni: Michelangelo and Pope Julius II

Let us in the light of the Bible read the two discoveries of the above neurosurgeons avoiding complot-theories à la Dan Brown. Michelangelo tells us the pre-christian history of the old Testament in the light of the New Testament. Often his figures allude to Christ sacrifice on the cross. Everywhere in the vault we have secret portents if the coming of Christ (see  article "the Death of Haman") Here in the First day, we have the Creator as a prefiguration of God's incarnation as a mortal man, who with His death on the Cross was bringing the Light in the World. The vault is just a completion of what was already done in frescoes of the lower section of the Sistine Chapel: "Quod Moses velat Christi doctrina revelat!" That what Moses veils, the doctrine of Christ reveals.

More obvious is it by Michelangelo's choice to paint the sybils and prophets: oracles of pagan and Judaic world who were held to have foretold the birth of Christ.

The way Michelangelo did it, stunned his contemporaries. It was a totally different approach of the fullfilling through subtleties of allusions. Whenever he painted a scene of the Genesis-story, he would overlay it with an allusion of the New Testament.

Michelangelo Drawing Jesus on Cross for Vittoria Colonna (flipped image)

Haman on the Cross - see article

The Lord as creator of first day

Will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)

Was born of a virgin named Mary (Luke 1:26-31)

1 In the beginning God created heaven and earth.

2 Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind sweeping over the waters.

3 God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.

4 God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness.

5 God called light 'day', and darkness he called 'night'. Evening came and morning came: the first day.

Gen. 1, 1-5 : Spiritual Light

14 God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years.

15 Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.' And so it was.

16 God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars.

17 God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth,

18 to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good.

19 Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.

Gen. 1, 14-19: Physical light

Mosaic creation 1st  day, Baptistery St. John, Florence, the former bizantine style of "the Creation"

Just like in "the conversion of saint Paul" of Caravaggio in the Church "Santa Maria del Popolo". When he was hit by a lightning on the way to Damascus, he, the persecutor of christians, got blind. But his blindness helped him to see the inner Light in his heart: the Light of Grace. And so, even when no physical light of the sun or the moon surrounded him, he could see the division of the Light of the first day, and got out of darkness, the world of sin and destruction.

The faculty of speech was giving us by the Lord. Therefore use it in the right way. Use your freedom of speech to create a better world at the image of God: more Goodness, more Beauty and more Truth to become more One.(Saint Thomas of Acquin)  (see my article: Plato and Aristotle)

Conclusion: Standing in the Light meens standing in Goodness, Beauty and Thruth ( the Transcendentals of God as described by saint Thomas of Acquin).

And the more you do it, the closer you get to the ONE. The Divine .... or after such a heavy article maybe "Divine = Di Vino", enjoy your glass of good italian wine. In vino Veritas. Salve!!