What Is the Last Supper?

In the Bible, the Last Supper is the final meal that Jesus shared with the apostles before his crucifixion. The gathering is never described by that specific title, but the term has come to represent the event. The meal is described in all four canonical gospels.

The Last Supper occurred after Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem after descending from the Mount of Olives and resurrecting Lazarus. After meeting with various Jewish leaders, Jesus and his apostles shared a meal toward the end of the week that turns out to be an eventful one. Jesus predicts his betrayal by an apostle and his denial by Peter, and initiates the ceremony of the Eucharist, equating the bread to his body and the wine to his blood.

While the location of the actual gathering is described vaguely in the text, there are a number of locations in Jerusalem that lay claim to being the site of the Last Supper. Two possibilities include the Syrian Orthodox Church of Saint Mark and the Cenacle on Mount Zion.

The Last Supper has been a popular theme in Christian art due to its significance in the story of Jesus. The most famous depiction is that painted by Leonardo da Vinci at the end of the 15th century, a work that many herald as the first example of High Renaissance art.