The Secrets of the Sistine Chapel Revealed in the Cloak

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The following is contributed by The Conscience Institute in recognition of Anna Chromy’s completion of the Cloak of Conscience.

It is believed that the Code of Michelangelo is hidden in the vaults of the Sistine Chapel, at the center of the throat of God, the fresco showing the separation of Light from Darkness, and representing the precise drawing of a human brain.

This discovery has led to the assumption that the Christian representations of the Chapel are closely related to Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah. From the numerous examples given in the book “The Sistine Secrets” there is one of particular interest for us: Buonarottis “Man created by the Mind” reflecting the Kabbalah’s belief of the human being as the fruit of knowledge placed in the right hemisphere of the brain, just the place where the master depicts God.

But what did Michelangelo want to tell us with his numerous references to the Kabbalah? What significance might his Code have in our lives today?

The artist Anna Chromy tries to answer these questions in her Cloak of Conscience, a work of art absolutely unique in the history of sculpture: the image of an empty Cloak, hewn from a block of 250 tons of pristine white marble from the famous Cave Michelangelo in Carra, where 500 years ago the genius used to select his blocks and transform them into eternal masterworks.

Designed as a place to rediscover one’s inner self, Anna created an interior space for meditation which will allow people to rediscover their conscience, the lost faculty to perceive the hidden, eternal truth. It will help to open the spiritual faculty of regeneration as described in the Kabbalah and other books of mystique, and to reestablish the vital union between God and man. This regeneration involves the sublimation of vice into virtue and the penetration of body and soul with the heat of divine love and the light of divine intelligence.

Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge, Prague

Many circumstances contribute to the ability for Anna Chromy to reveal Michelangelo’s Code for contemporary society with the “Cloak of Conscience”. During her early childhood in the mystical city of Prague there were two places which she frequented assiduously, her petrified stone friends on Charles Bridge, to whom she addressed never ending monologues, and the Jewish Cemetery, where she rehearsed the story of Gustav Meyrings’s Golem. She would never have imagined in these days that she will be able one day to create beings out of clay, just like the Golem, at the image of God when he created man.

Anna’s favorite place in the Cemetery was the tomb of Moses Beck, buried there five months before Mozart conducted the Premier of his Don Giovanni in the National Theatre. Did she ever feel at this time that her first creations out of clay would be the characters of exactly this opera? Would she have dared to imagine that after 60 years her first Cloak in bronze, representing the Commander in Mozart’s opera, would be installed in front of this Theatre to commemorate the fact that Mozart’s Don Giovanni started its phenomenal success story from here?

Don Giovani by Anna Chromy

This brings us back to the Sistine Chapel. It is said that Mozart was inspired for his Requiem by the frescos on the vault of the Sistine Chapel. Knowing Mozart’s love for the Kabbalah we find many allusions in the “Magic Flute”, and also in Don Giovanni and others of his operas. Is this perhaps one of the reasons why Chromy chose the Don Giovanni characters for her first sculpture series?

Perhaps it is. But there is another surprising connection between the Sistine Chapel and the Cloak of Conscience.
The Chapel was built by a Franciscan Pope and decorated under his nephew, also a Franciscan. Franciscans are the guardians of the Church of the Holy Nativity in Jerusalem and as “Custodians of the Holy Land”, they are much acquainted with the Orient and the Jewish Kabbalah. On a wall of the Holy Convent of Saint Francis in Assisi there is an inscription of Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet, who was also Assisi to the Orient.


St. Francis and Dame Poverty

St. Francis and Dame Poverty

It should come as no surprise therefore, that the idea of the Cloak in marble was born right here in this Holy Convent of Assisi. It was conceived in a discussion between the Abbot of this Holy Site and Anna Chromy. Anna had already contributed several of her works to the Convent and the Basilica. One was a Saint Martin for the Martins Chapel in the Lower Basilica, placed next to the tomb of St. Francis. Another was her group St. Francis and Dame Poverty (right), based on Dante’s Divina Comedia, right next to the poet’s inscription in the Monastery. This time she had brought a small model of the Cloak in bronze, as a gift for the Abbot, to be placed in the Papal Apartments of the Convent.

When he saw the sculpture, the Abbot turned to Anna with these words: “Anna, you know the rule of Saint Francis: In the absence of a consecrated place of worship, we should use our own body as a cloak for prayer and meditation. Would it be possible to create a secluded space in the form of the Cloak, where people can find their inner self, undisturbed by anybody?”
He went on: “Former places of worship, like the Sistine Chapel, have become pure tourist attractions today. They have lost their magic. The world needs a strong symbol for the new area which is coming upon us”.

Four and a half years after this discussion – the same time it took Michelangelo to create the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – Anna Chromy completed The Cloak of Conscience.

Many indices concord to the belief that humanity has reached a major turning point in its history: Many know, and most people can sense, that the model of development since the tremendous scientific advances of the Renaissance is no longer sustainable. The Western world is living as if it has several globes to exploit for our benefit and not just one, and emerging countries are fast catching up. That this cannot continue much longer should be obvious even for analphabets.

The Maya Calendar is reaching its ninth and final wave, leading to a rebalancing of the yin and yang, the male and female spirit, in favor the latter. The development of the female energies of love, compassion and harmony, suppressed for centuries, will allow us to navigate from 2012 on this dangerous cleavage in human history.

The philosopher Teilhard de Chardin had these premonitory words for the current change: “Un jour après avoir maitrisé les vents, les vagues, les marées et la pesanteur, nous devrions exploiter les énergies de l’amour; et pour la seconde fois dans l’histoire du monde, l’homme découvrira le feu” – Having spent centuries developing techniques dominate nature, man must then discover the energies of love if he is to rise to the challenges of our future. Such a discovery has the same significance as learning how to create and control fire.

So what is the hidden message of Michelangelo’s Code? ….

God is Love. There will come a day in human history where man will rediscover his conscience. This will lead to a revolution as vital as the discovery of fire. It will be fueled by the energies of love and compassion. To mark this epochal change an artist will be chosen to create an iconic work testifying to and symbolizing this change. This artist will use for his work the same marble from the Apuan Mountains which I used for my Piétà, my David, and my Moses. The shape of the work will remind everyone of a universally venerated human being who exemplifies those essential qualities.

Only the loving heart, the harmonious soul, and the creative mind of a female artist could reveal the meaning of Michelangelo’s Code. In the Kabbalah the 10th and final gate opens our heart, brings serenity, maximizes brain potential and creates a total communication with the Infinite. The Sephirol love contracts God to make His energy in the world over and show its glory to the nations. This is the soul of the Thora which Anna Chromy depicted first in her sculpture “Golden Olive Tree” or Tree of Life, and now in her Cloak of Conscience. Many onlookers seem to recognize in the empty Cloak the image of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, proof that Anna Chromy does not only have the artistic skills of Michelangelo, expressed in the folds of her Cloak, but also his capacity to deliver a message in a veiled, ambiguous form open to many different interpretations.

Copyright Conscience Institute 2011

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