“This is probably the world’s most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed. The beauty of its lines and expression leaves a lasting impression on everyone.
With this magnificent statue Michelangelo has given us a highly spiritual and Christian view of human suffering. Artists before and after Michelangelo always depicted the Virgin with the dead Christ in her arms as grief stricken, almost on the verge of desperation. Michelangelo, on the other hand, created a highly supernatural feeling.
As she holds Jesus’ lifeless body on her lap, the Virgin’s face emanates sweetness, serenity and a majestic acceptance of this immense sorrow, combined with her faith in the Redeemer. It seems almost as if Jesus is about to reawaken from a tranquil sleep and that after so much suffering and thorns, the rose of resurrection is about to bloom. As we contemplate the Pieta which conveys peace and tranquility, we can feel that the great sufferings of life and its pain can be mitigated.
Here, many Christians recall the price of their redemption and pray in silence. The words may be those of the “Salve Regina” or “Sub tuum presidium” or another prayer. After Peter’s Tomb, the Pieta Chapel is the most frequently visited and silent place in the entire basilica.
It is said that Michelangelo had been criticized for having portrayed the Virgin Mary as too young since she actually must have been around 45-50 years old when Jesus died. He answered that he did so deliberately because the effects of time could not mar the virginal features of this, the most blessed of women. He also said that he was thinking of his own mother’s face, he was only five when she died: the mother’s face is a symbol of eternal youth.”
Thoughts for these days.
Because of the importance of this week for millions of Christian brothers and sisters all over the globe, I thought of adding a few words for us to think and pray about and maybe we can stretch out and do something to help someone on the streets or in our midst.
The aspect of human suffering is something we can not ignore in these times. In the parable that Jesus tells of the judgment in Matthew 25. v35 “for I was hungry and you gave me food.thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….
v40, ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Jesus identifies with those who suffer.
If I contemplate the “Way of the Cross” and ignore those who, by their lives and suffering are on the way, on the road, on our path, on our news, in our newspapers, on the TV, on the internet, on the radio, then my contemplation of the “way of the cross” is useless, for I am deaf and blind to the fact that right in my face, the Christ still suffers and is in need.
Youthful Christ sleeping on the streets.
The homeless Christ
I do not have to put many photos here. We see enough all around us in our own cities and all over the world. Each one of these people is the Christ.
Some years ago Mother Teresa was visiting Montreal and she was being interviewed on TV and was asked how, a woman of her age, was able to do the work she did and she replied:
“In the morning I meditate and receive all the strength I need and when I am kneeling on the street attending to someone who is sick and dying, they may be Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, I don’t know. All I know is that when I look into their eyes, I see only the Christ that I worship”
Here are some words of Father Bede Griffiths