Mona Lisa, Caterina Cornaro, Leonardo Da Vinci
One does not need to be a scientist to have common sense. What is required is to know more than two foreign languages, learn how to read between the lines, and connect events using imagination and intuition with a clear soul and mind! Every one of us has its time machine! It just needs to be launched. The fuel is an unexpected encounter, not by chance but by vibrations we all radiate and the receptors we all have by birth! If you do not believe, I strongly suggest starting sharpening yours! It will help you to start believing!
From the moment, in September 2017, when I saw how professional people and real enthusiasts of Cyprus Institute presented their findings of the 16th-century portrait of Caterina Cornaro, the Last Queen of Cyprus, in Levendio Museum of Nicosia with the title “The Secrets of A Royal Portrait,” I felt that more secrets are surrounding the lady who marked the Cyprus destiny! I remember a comment of one very distinguished gentleman C.C., whom I admire a lot. He said- “It would be better if we stayed Kingdom!” The seeds planted some years before, out of curiosity, started to grow that night, producing fruits in the form of putting in motion my time machine! I was inspired to learn and feel more about Caterina Cornaro. Inspiration is the guiding idea to continue learning and connecting facts history left with us. Intuition is born when you combine curiosity with inspiration!
Let me first make a statement.
However, today’s known history and today’s known science will react, or most probably ignore, I am making an assumption:
MONA LISA is CATERINA CORNARO!
It is an intuition overwhelming me with firstly strange and then genuine and humble inner feelings growing inside me for many years.
I am not prepared to trade that for anything!
However, certain events happened at a particular time that has made me uneasy but sure that intuition is higher and more significant and ultimate human virtue than any definitions for history research.
How comes that in 2013 lost Leonardo da Vinci mural was found in a room of the Sforzesco Castle(1) and that at the same year, a priceless 500 years old portrait of an Italian noblewoman, Isabella d’Este, painted by Leonardo, was discovered as part of a private collection in a Swiss bank with Italian owners choosing to keep their identity a secret. (2)
With two names, Caterina and Leonardo, connected and me taking some weight off my soul because of the statement I wrote above, let me start the story that led to the intense feeling of enlightenment pushing me to rewrite my first essay about Leonardo Da Vinci visit to Cyprus.
The renewal of my intuition and restart of the time machine happened in March 2020. It was the first lockdown in Cyprus. I had a meeting with the lady interior designer to discuss the concept for the hotel refurbishing project near Lefkara village. We had cooperation before, and we exchanged our ideas and views about Cyprus history many times. I mentioned then my short essay of April 2018 about Leonardos visit to Cyprus and specifically Lefkara village titled ” Leonardo da Vinci, Lefkara village lace and the Last Supper mural.”
It was based on the quote I found in the book “Historic Cyprus,” published 14th of May 1936, by Rupert Forbes Gunnis, Eton College graduate English historian and a private secretary of Governor of Cyprus. He wrote on page 321:
“Leonardo da Vinci, when he visited the island( of Cyprus*)in 1481 purchased lace made at Lefkara for the altar cloth at Milan Cathedral.”
My idea then was to use my first and short essay based on the above quote as an inspiration to investigate and write more about that extraordinary visit. I then had the feeling that some veil of secrecy was somewhere waiting to be discovered and removed and wrote the following:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, technology finds out that the portrait of Caterina just recently presented to the public by Levendis museum in Nicosia or some other one waiting to be discovered had a “touch” of Leonardo da Vinci.”
Let me share with you a brief history of Lefkara to evoke the atmosphere.
Mentioned first in 1134 in the testament of Saint Neophytos, born in the nearby village of Kato Drys, Lefkara village is in the mountains some 50 kilometers from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.
During the Franco Venetian rule of Cyprus, Lefkara was used as a safe retreat oasis for women and children of the Venetians. They escaped Pirate raids of coastal towns of Famagusta, Morfou, Kyrenia, Limassol, etc.…
Having not much to do at the retreat of Lefkara, women practiced an abstruse form of unique needlework coming deep down the soul, making each lace a masterpiece of its own. That kind of work requires a lot of patience and concentration, focus, and a clear mind! It was a time when TV sets, mobile phones, and computers did not exist to distract people’s minds. The time when intuition was still sharp! Who knows, maybe telepathy also!
This is how the history of Lefkara lace was born!
In May 2020, I visited Lefkara village three times till I found a suitable lace for the hotel lobby.
Empowered by the excitement and curiosity, I continued visiting Lefkara and walking through its narrow streets decorated with many flowers, paintings, and even books. My feeling intensified by irradiating the old rocky houses conjuring the ancient atmosphere. Here you can test your soul. If it is positioned in the right place, one can sensate spirits wandering around to detect the visitor’s aim. It happened again to me recently while sitting on the bench overlooking the ancient road in Salamis! If your soul is strolling without having to park itself and work clearly, you will be deprived of unique experiences. But for a curious truth seeker, that will give birth to the idea to revisit Lefkara. Mystery always beautifies the story and awakens feelings deeply ingrained in the human soul. Those from the first homo sapiens!
Many historians did not confirm Leonardo da Vinci’s visit.
While researching, I recalled my participation and the opportunity to ask eminent connoisseurs of Leonardo da Vinci’s work, Professor Seracini, during his memorable lecture in May 2019, “Rediscovering Leonardo da Vinci: the secret lives of his paintings.” (4)
I felt that politics might somehow keep Leonardo da Vinci’s stay in Cyprus under the veil of secrecy. Secrecy, which is transmuted to legend as beautiful, profound words of His Excellency the Italian Ambassador to Cyprus, Mr. Andrea Cavallari, conveyed at the opening of the lecture:
“The legend says that Leonardo da Vinci traveled to Cyprus and that he brought back to Italy a beautiful piece of embroidery from Lefkara village for the altar of the Duomo in Milano. I am sure that, 500 years later, the “piece of Leonardo” that Professor Seracini will bring to Cyprus will enlighten us on Leonardo’s struggle to expand the limits of human knowledge, combining as never before, hope and reason. May his work and research be an example for all of us,”
Here I was triggered, and looking at the presentation of Professor Seracini, I got the feeling that Leonardo, after a 1481 visit to Cyprus, had Caterina in his mind for many years, if not forever!
Then, after the initial excitement, common sense made me adopt a strong feeling that politics and the financial interests of the leading players at the time did not allow Caterina to get involved intimately with anyone. Just and only to be sure that the chances for an eventual new successor will be reduced to zero! There were already many so-called bastards around.
This assumption becomes more profound if you learn that Leonardo was 29 years old and Caterina 27 years of age at the time of his 1481 visit. To make my premise even more interesting, consider that Queen Caterina lost her husband, King James I, suddenly in 1473, and her only son, King James III, slightly more than one-year-old, in 1474.
As Queen Caterina stayed without descendants and was under the constant pressure of Venice merchants, including her own family with vast business interests in Cyprus, she succumbed. In February of 1489, she finally ceded her rights to the doge of Venice.
After Caterina presented her Kingdom of Cyprus as a gift to Venice, the majority of the people did not accept this transfer of power from traditional Lusignans to Venice. Seeds of further division were planted, and Orthodox who could not stand the repression of the Catholic bishops came to an idea to call upon nearby foreign power for help. The rest is history.
Imagination and intuition are genuine human qualities that can be diluted with different definitions, statistics, and many other restrictive manmade manipulative rules. It is always a fantastic pleasure to feel that you are not affected by that!
So, let’s imagine Leonardo coming in 1481 to Cyprus and meeting Queen Caterina Cornaro. To greet him, she took him from Famagusta and Kyrenia through Nicosia to the quiet and short visit to Lefkara village to feel the romantic and artistic atmosphere and boost his inspiration and her mood. Who does not like a passionate, young, enchanting artist! Especially when both were sharing the idea that people should be judged only by their virtues and not by their flaws.
Maybe Leonardo, impressed first with the beauty and manners of Queen Caterina and secondly by the quality and uniqueness of the laces he saw, conveyed to her that he will move to Milan next year to work as a painter and sculptor under the patronage of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. Then as a memory of the visit and his first encounter with Queen Caterina, he bought or was presented with an exceptional Lefkara lace!
No one can deny that love ignites people in the millisecond and opens all the pores! If we say that in love, one feels more than it should and suffers more than thinks, dreams more than lives, then it would be inevitable that Leonardo never forgot his Cyprus visit and, of course, Queen Caterina Cornaro! Their relation was dangerous because of many rumors following Caterina connected with the interests of Venice. However, they both knew that the more perilous situation was always permeated with more excitement and passion.
Whatever they say about Leonardo’s affiliations and Caterina depressions, my intuition is making me shiver.
Lefkara generates that kind of atmosphere to make people want to connect! I felt it on my own skin!
If you ever go to Lefkara, do not go only one time. Repeat the visits. As I already said, it is excellent for the soul! The first impression is essential, but you need to go several times to feel more. Lefkara has some force, some energy, some secrets that it is not revealing immediately. It waits for the repeated visitors, and then it chooses whom to target to enlighten further! If you feel something extraordinary after visiting Lefkara, be sure that when going back to your living place, you will take with you unique vibrations to use it, consciously or unconsciously, as a foundation for your advancement! In any field! Just imagine Leonardo da Vinci whose creativity rose to the stars after he visited Cyprus and Lefkara. The period 1482-1500 and while he stayed in Milan “was the most fruitful of fully completed works and of other resumes later.” It is widely accepted that connection you get from ladies or better ladies recommendation is more worthy than all the talent one could have. But combined with talent the advancing of carrier is more than guaranteed! And Caterina as a Queen of Cyprus the jewel of Mediterranean definitely had connections in all parts of Italy!
While visiting Lefkara, as curiosity overwhelmed me, I had a human, genuine pleasure to meet many people. They all were an inspiration and somehow medium to sense that old, natural, unique excitability. That is how over the coffee and lemonade at friendly and above all full of wise proverbs “Καφέ της παρέας” or “Companionship Coffee shop,” I first met Neofitos, the young and absolutely aware and awake owner and then all the others. I was overwhelmed with such a positive atmosphere and pure human smiles and hospitality that I wanted to stay for an extended period. It was another reminder that we are all good as humans. We just need initiation of positive vibes around us. To kindness, we respond with kindness! One old but the well-aware and wise man paid for my coffee, and we exchanged thoughts learning that the nearby shop I visited was his and his wife and that he was a father of Mrs. Margarita, I will introduce to you later. Also, I met the husband of Mrs. Margarita as I ordered some more Lefkara lace to widen the choice for the hotel lobby.
At the time, I did not know whom I met and what kind of history that family carries, but I felt a complete, human, genuine trust!
We exchanged many opinions and shared many life stories with the people there. All were about innate human goodness!
This air of genuine hospitality has first initiated and then matured in me the idea that, in the end, the Mona Lisa may be Caterina Cornaro, the secret love of Leonardo da Vinci!
Does not need to have the same face! What matters is what Leonardo felt while painting it! Maybe the structure of both looks familiar, and we might never learn what and about whom Leonardo was thinking when painting the so-called Mona, but the time machine can help us to feel him and, who knows, comprehend him more!
I could maybe change the saying that eyes do not lie to hands do not lie.
You might think that I exaggerate, but when I took Mrs. Margarita’s unique, black lace, I felt Leonardo Spirit and another one spirit mingling around whom I later recognize as Knight without being able to identify the name! Strange but helpful!
How did I get the honor to be introduced to Mrs. Margarita’s unique lace which appearance and my hands holding it made my blood to circulate faster and my mind having imaginations about, whom else, Leonardo and Caterina.
The hotel decided to have the original Lefkara lace in the reception and in each suite.
So, the “usual suspect,” being me, was kindly asked to go again to Lefkara and organize the lace making. I accepted it with pleasure and went again to see my now dear friends and order one dozen handmade original Lefkara lace!
While discussing the lace order, Mrs. Margarita informed me that one of the laces she made was selected by Michelangelo Foundation to participate in the Milan exhibition! She conveyed that certain Mr. Jean Blanchaert from the Cultural Council of the Michelangelo Foundation visited her and picked the lace!
As curious as I am, I told dear Mrs. Margarita to bring the lace when I come to pick up the already ordered laces.
Sometimes waiting for things to happen can result in stress, but I did not feel one as somehow tranquility and calmness overwhelmed me.
I think I fell in love with Lefkara, Caterina and Leonardo, and all the people I met there and about there!
If you agree with Plutarch that the soul of man in love lives in someone else’s body, I can say with all certainty that parts of me are left will all those beautiful people I met in person and spiritually!
A week passed, and it was the day to go and pick up the laces from Mrs.Margarita and meet the lace chosen by Michelangelo Foundation Cultural Council member Jean Blanchaert.
When I saw laces ready, I was amazed by the beauty and so proud and grateful that the feelings of love awakened in me!
Furthermore, Mrs. Margarita presented me with THE LACE and told me the story.
Before the story, I want to share again the feeling I had when my hands took the lace with you, dear readers! I felt I went back to the past with the time machine and being a knight wearing the same lace as an armor! The lace was different! It was black and cumbersome! It reflects security, pride, chivalry, humanism, and completely unexplainable passion and love! LOVE!
That was the moment when I felt that Leonardo da Vinci was for the second time among Cypriots! That was the moment of awaking cognition, an awareness that Leonardo loved Caterina and never stopped loving her in his own way! I again imagined the moment they met at the port of Famagusta and the first exchange of looks between two passionate, curious and lonely artistic personalities. After the first impression and goosebumps, they both felt, a gentle hand kiss Leonardo did in the way Caterina did not want to wash her right hand from the fear of losing Leonardo’s lips imprint. Their stay in Lefkara took on the character of lovers!
Mrs. Margarita told me it took her four months to finish the lace(5) you see in the picture below and that her life motto was always to “challenge her efforts to be different and curious!”
That is what the undersigned followed for a long time now!
If there is any conclusion to be made, the people with the same vibration meet and cooperate smoothly, connecting their curiosity and passion for leaving something behind!
I thought that my assumption would finish with these words written here.
But, it was not!
This was just the beginning!
After some months while visiting one bookshop, I came across the book of Hakan Menguc with the title-” No encounter is by chance.”
I got it, and I read it with pleasure. I had the pleasure of widening my knowledge about Sufi and Rumi and Shams of Tabriz!
After some time, as souls need time, and as everything needs time to function correctly, I had another encounter. This time in the place which was at the time a house where Catherina Cornaro lived! When recently in Famagusta I had an idea to see the Venitian House again, which I liked from previous visits, and I stumbled upon a coffee bar called Caterina Cornaro!(6)
“No encounter is by chance!”
There I met Nejat. Nejat, who owns the place you can see in the photos below, told me the story about Caterina living there and the information that Marcantonio Bragadin the last Venican commander of Famagusta was also living there.
He conveyed to me exciting stories, and we shared the same passion for history and Caterina Cornaro! Who knows, maybe that Caterina and Leonardo were meeting there also before him leaving Cyprus!
Everything is possible when two lonely souls meet and spend time together. Politics, economy, and all are out with one thing coming in and becoming the ruler for all of us! That of LOVE!
Imagination is beautiful. We are born to imagine and love!
We all have these abilities and could discover them if and when we decide to be free of all the manipulation practiced to distract us.
Get your time machine to work and start traveling! Somewhere there, you might meet Leonardo and Caterina loving each other and greeting you for a coffee as I was welcomed by Nejat at the unique Caterina Cornaro Coffee Bar and Guest House.
This story will definitely continue …
Till then, enjoy life, and LOVE!
Darko Richard Lancelot
Connect and Respect
(3) If you want to learn more about Caterina Cornaro, I strongly suggest visiting two museums in Nicosia.
(4) Photos from the 2019 lecture of Professor Seracini
(5) Photos of Mrs.Margarita lace
(6) Photos of Caterina Cornaro Coffe Bar and Guest House