The Pieta is my favorite sculpture. One time in a dream Mary let me feel what it was like to actually hold her son in my arms after He was taken down from the cross. It felt so real. I felt the weight of Jesus’ dead body in my arms. I felt His blood and saw His wounds. I felt the painful and deep sadness of what it must have felt like in Mary’s heart to mourn the death of her Son and hold Him in her arms. It was a heart-wrenching pain like no other. It made me think about suffering – and why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Why do our loved ones have to die, and why is there so much suffering in the world?
Think about this – if God (remember Jesus is God) allowed His own mother to suffer, why not us? God, being God, could have prevented Mary from suffering, but He didn’t. There IS meaning in suffering, though we may not fully understand the meaning of it during our lifetime. Like Mary, we need to embrace our cross. Nobody is immune from suffering. If you are human, you will suffer. Your suffering could be physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial. Regardless of what kind of suffering it is, we will all experience suffering during our lifetime. Mary suffered greatly, and yet she humbly embraced her cross and continues to leads us to Her son. There would be no Easter, without Good Friday. No resurrection without the crucifixion. God always brings good out of suffering – even if it means because of what you are going through someone else is praying more, loving more, or turning back to God. God is outside of time, and His love for us is eternal.
Michelangelo at age 24, sculpted the Pietà from a single block of marble. It is the only one he ever signed. What he hoped to convey in the Pieta was what the term really meant: pity, sorrow.
The Pieta is a representation of the horrific nature of Jesus’s crucifixion, and the reality of a mother losing her child. The death of Christ is essential to Christian doctrine and the juxtaposition of Christ’s human and divine nature is alive in the Pieta. The Christian community can relate to The Pieta on many levels, both in their walks of faith as well as their family relationships.
It is said that he 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, for he was only five when she died: the mother’s face is a symbol of eternal youth.
If you are going through a hard time, look at the cross, or meditate on this sculpture, and know that your God loves you eternally. This earthly life is filled with both great joy and great suffering. At times the pain can be excruciating and unbearable, but know you are not alone. Pray for strength and the grace to embrace your cross and know that God is right there beside you, that our Blessed Mother understands your pain, and that they are both helping you carry your cross, giving you comfort, love, and strength along the way.