More than five centuries ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was the darling of the Catholic Church. The Papacy commissioned him to create many of its most important pieces, including the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. He spent his life glorifying the Church, etching Catholic ideals into masterpieces that defined religion for the masses. Yet when he died, his body was secretly shepherded off to Florence, and the Church was denied the opportunity to honor him with a grand funeral in Rome. Historians have long wondered about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, but now, art historian Antonio Forcellino believes he has pieced together evidence of a deep rift between the Church and the esteemed artist. The cause: Michelangelo’s belief in Protestant ideals, and his involvement with a clandestine fellowship trying to put an end to the decadence and corruption of the Clergy and reform the Church from within.
THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Michelangelo Revealed premieres nationally, Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film deconstructs the puzzling discrepancies between the sculptures Michelangelo created and the way he described them, revealing an intricate effort to carve his own beliefs into stone, while protecting himself from the wrath of a powerful Cardinal who viewed him as a heretic. Actor Liev Schreiber (CSI, upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine) narrates.