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Michelangelo Revealed

series: Secrets Of The Dead

air date: 5/05/13 7:59 PM

More than five centuries ago, Michelangelo Buonarroti was the darling of the Catholic Church. Throughout his masterful career, the Papacy commissioned him to create many of its most important pieces, including the frescos of the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica of St. Peter. He spent his life glorifying the Church through his art. But five centuries later, new finds are revealing a darker side to the master artisan. While restoring Michelangelo's famous statue of Moses, art historian Antonio Forcellino noticed some puzzling imperfections, including an asymmetrical beard, knees of different sizes and a head that sat strangely on the shoulders. The finds started Forcellino on an investigation that eventually exposed evidence of Michelangelo's involvement with a clandestine fellowship trying to reform the Catholic Church from within. The group's radical ideas were so threatening to the Church orthodoxy, they were considered heretical and punishable by death. Michelangelo's involvement put him at dangerous odds with powerful officials who held his livelihood -- and life -- in their hands. This program paints a new picture of brave religious expression, personal vendettas, careful cover-ups and a most gifted artist desperately trying to reconcile his loyalty to the Church with his own personal belief about the road to salvation.

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