How did a bottle of Tabasco sauce find its way into a painting of The Last Supper?

·2 min read

Inside of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Parks, a painting of The Last Supper features a bottle of original Tabasco that recently caught the attention of the company that makes the iconic Louisiana hot sauce.

The Last Supper typically depicts Jesus Christ eating with his 12 apostles and is a common scene in the Christian religion with the most famous version painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

Tabasco, the globally famous Louisiana pepper sauce known by its red and green branding, sits in front of one of the disciples in the St. Joseph Church painting.

The church’s pastor, Nicholas DuPré, said he heard rumors about the bottle when he arrived at St. Joseph in 2019 from the previous pastor.

A close-up of a relgious painting in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Parks, Louisiana, features a small bottle of Tabasco hot sauce.
A close-up of a relgious painting in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Parks, Louisiana, features a small bottle of Tabasco hot sauce.

“He was like, ‘Did you find that Tabasco bottle?’ And I was like, ‘What?’” DuPré said. “I heard it from him. I think I've heard it from a few other people, but I never really cared to go look for it.”

That was until DuPré received a letter from Shane Bernard, a curator and historian from the McIlhenny Co., which produces the hot sauce on Avery Island in Iberia Parish, who wrote to DuPré asking if an “urban myth” he heard about the painting was true.

“It is no myth,” DuPré said in a Facebook post featuring a picture of Bernard’s letter and a closeup of the painting.

Two days later, a large commemorative collector’s bottle of Tabasco sauce arrived at DuPré’s doorstep.

“I highly advise looking for hidden bottles of Tabasco sauce in whatever art is hanging in your church. The McIlhenny Co. was kind enough to give me this bottle just for having a little fun,” DuPré said on Facebook.

DuPré said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do with the commemorative bottle, but he’s considering putting it in a vestibule with some directions for finding the bottle in the painting.

The painting was commissioned around 2003 by the Rev. Bryce Sibley.

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Christie Hebert, the artist, said Sibley told her not to do an exact replica of the da Vinci painting.

“He wanted me to make it unique to our area,” Hebert said.

Sibley, who left the St. Joseph in 2008 and now teaches at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, said the church needed a facelift when he arrived in 2003, including new paint and artwork.

“I’ve always liked the little human element from different works that I had seen,” Sibley said. “So I said well, 'Why don't we insert the bottle?' I’ve been sort of touched by the way that people find the human element of the story so compelling.”

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: How a Tabasco hot sauce bottle made its way into a Last Supper painting