By Inés San Martín, Crux Vatican correspondent
ROME — During a private 15-minute meeting, Leonardo DiCaprio gave the pope a book of paintings by 16th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.
Pointing to one painting, a reproduction of Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights,” DiCaprio said it had hung over his bed as a child. The triptych, which DiCaprio has referred to in the past, depicts Adam and Eve in the first panel, a teeming landscape in the center panel, and finally a vision of hell.
“As a child I didn’t quite understand what it all meant,” he told Francis, “but through my child’s eyes it represented a planet, the utopia we had been given, the overpopulation, excesses, and the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what’s going in the environment.”
He added that “it represents to me the promise of the future and enlightenment and it is representational of your view here as well.”
DiCaprio also gave Francis a personal check for an undisclosed sum to be used for charitable works that are “close to your heart.”
This is the second such gesture from an American A-lister the pontiff has received in the past week; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, also made a donation when he visited the Vatican last Friday.
The religious leader and the 41-year-old Oscar nominee, up for his performance in “The Revenant,” both have a history of environmental concern. Reflecting that commitment, Francis gave the actor a copy of his encyclical on the care of creation, Laudato Si’.