A date for your diary: Leonardo da Vinci predicted that the world would end on November 1, 4006, according to a Vatican researcher.
Sabrina Sforza Galitzia said the clues were to be found in da Vinci’s Last Supper mural. The central half-moon window, or lunette, above his painting of Christ with his disciples before the Crucifixion contains a “mathematical and astrological” puzzle which she has deciphered, she said.
She claimed to have worked out that da Vinci foresaw the end of the world in a “universal flood” which would begin on March 21, 4006 and end on November 1 the same year. Documents showed that he believed that this would mark “a new start for humanity”, Ms Sforza Galitzia said.
“There is a da Vinci code — it is just not the one made popular by Dan Brown,” she said.
Ms Sforza Galitzia, who formerly studied da Vinci manuscripts as a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles, now works in the Vatican archives.
Last year, the Vatican published her study The Last Supper of Leonardo in the Vatican, in which she examined a tapestry of the Last Supper made for King Louis XIII of France, based on da Vinci’s design for his famous mural in Milan.
She said she was working on a sequel which would explain da Vinci’s hidden “code”, involving signs of the zodiac and his use of the 24 letters of the Latin alphabet to represent the 24 hours of the day.
Da Vinci had seen the story of humanity as leading to “the sum of all things, the final reckoning” described in the Book of Revelations but also by ancient writers such as Plato and Aristotle, she told La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper.
He had been a scientist and man of faith who had lived in “difficult times” and had hidden his messages “so as not to be attacked,” she said.
The Last Supper, which measures 460cm by 880cm (15ft by 29ft), covers an entire wall at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Da Vinci began working on it in 1495, and finished it in 1498. It was restored between 1978 and 1999 after it had badly deteriorated.