1. Aside from his skill at solving codes and puzzles, what other methods does Father Agostino use in his attempt to uncover the identity of the Soothsayer and decipher the enigma of The Last Supper? How much does he owe to chance? What is the significance of Leonardo da Vinci solving the riddle written by the Soothsayer?
2. Were you able to guess the identity of the Soothsayer before it was revealed in the narrative? Once the identity was revealed, did you see clues and indicators that you had missed while reading the story?
3. Father Agostino and Master Torriani "both believed that the Soothsayer had left us this clue [the seven-line verse] in the hope that the Secretariat of Keys would solve it and communicate with him" (49). The Soothsayer had ample opportunity to reveal himself to Father Agostino after the inquisitor arrived in Milan. Why did he continue to hide his identity from Father Agostino?
4. Father Alessandro became "a dear friend" (79) to Father Agostino. Do you believe Father Agostino would have thought of the other man as a friend if he had been aware of Father Alessandro’s true religious affiliation? Why or why not?
5. Why are the Dominican leaders so concerned that The Last Supper might contain hidden symbolism? How (and why) was art used to communicate ideas and beliefs to the people during the Renaissance?
6. Discuss Elena Crivelli’s role in the story. Despite Leonardo's warnings, Bernardino Luini reveals to her what he has learned from Leonardo about the legacy of Mary Magdalene. Why does Leonardo then go a step further and take Elena into his confidence? What was your reaction to learning that da Vinci used a woman as the model for Saint John in The Last Supper?
7. When Father Agostino frees Mario Forzetta from the Jacaranda palazzo, Forzetta tells him, "Give me my freedom and I’ll be faithful" (198). Does Mario fulfill that promise? How so? Why does Father Agostino choose not to inform his superiors of the existence of the Cathar community in Concorezzo?
8. The events in The Secret Supper are recounted by Father Agostino forty years after they took place. Why do you suppose the author chose to structure the narrative in this way? How does it enhance the story?
9. Why does Father Agostino exile himself in Egypt? He writes, "The intimate certainty that no Christian will ever read what I am writing clouds my mind and brings tears to my eyes" (9). Why is he recording an account of his mission in Milan if he’s certain that no one will ever read it?
10. What techniques does the author use to heighten the suspense in The Secret Supper? Are there "heroes" and "villains" in the story? Who would you classify in each category?
11. Do you believe, after reading this book, that Leonardo da Vinci used The Last Supper to conceal religious ideas contrary to those of the Catholic church? How effectively does Javier Sierra support the premise that da Vinci was given responsibility for preserving the legacy of the Church of John and Mary Magdalene?
12. What is your impression of Leonardo da Vinci after reading this book? What did you learn about the Renaissance period, Italian history, art, and religion? What did you find to be the most compelling aspect of The Secret Supper?
13. Comparisons have been drawn between The Secret Supper and works such as The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. If members of your group have read either of these titles, compare them. What similarities did you find? What differences?