FEBRUARY 18th is the day when the Religion of Antinous honors Michelangelo, who died on this date.
Saint Michelangelo was the ultimate Renaissance Man, a painter/sculptor/architect/engineer, a man of art and science. A man torn between his passions and his religion.
In the Renaissance, his voluptuous depictions of the male form were accepted as expressions of the Divine in art.
It was the Victorians who went into denial over any hint that he may have been gay, despite the fact that he never married.
His male art is done with a passion for detail and obvious love of the male form. The only females he sculpted were maternal figures.
In 1532, he met a handsome young nobleman called Tommaso de Cavalieri. Michelangelo was struck by a romantic feeling that simply would not go away. He wrote sonnet after sonnet for the man as well as producing some rather "personal" sketches for his eyes only.
Michelangelo executed a number of exquisite ink sketches of Jove's Abduction of the beautiful youth Ganymede.
Michelangelo most certainly knew that Jove and Ganymede were synonymous with Hadrian and Antinous. As a man of art and science, all he had to do was look at the nighttime sky and see the Constellation of Antinous (formerly the Constellation of Ganymede).
An older man enthralled with a handsome youth. Our modern concept of "gayness" did not exist. But did he really have to spell it out to Tommaso any more clearly than that?
For thirty-odd years, the two were constant companions, but Michelangelo? s passions did not end there. During his relationship with Cavalieri, he also wrote about some deep feelings for other men in his life, including the 16-year-old Cecchino dei Bracci, for whom he wrote 48 funeral epigrams after his untimely death.
Here is an extract from one of his same-sex love sonnets:
"The love I speak of aspires to the heights; woman is too dissimilar, and it ill becomes a wise and manly heart to burn for her."
For his gentle genius and for his love of male beauty and for representing the best strivings of humanity, we proclaim Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni one of our Blessed Prophets of Homoeros.
Michelangelo reminds us that male beauty IS divine.
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