The Pieta

The Pieta

Michelangelo Buonarriti

"The Pity," Representing Despair & Consolation

The "Heart's Image" of Pain & Redemption

             The Pieta is a famous 15th Century Renaissance marble sculpture created by Michelangelo Buonarroti  in Rome at age 25.  It sits in the first Chapel of Saint Peter’s Basilica near the Holy Door adjacent to Saint Sebastian’s Altar. It shows the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s lamentation of her son, Jesus whom she is shown holding close to her heart after his death. The Pieta was commissioned by French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres in 1498. It has been damaged many times, most notably in 1972 when a lunatic, Hungarian–born Australian, Laszlo Toth, attacked the Pieta with a geologist’s hammer while proclaiming, “I am Jesus Christ and I have risen from the dead.” Michelangelo sculpted Mary with youthful incorrupt beauty, rationalizing that her chaste life kept her young.   When Michelangelo overheard someone saying the Pieta was made by another artist, he carved his name on the sash of Mary’s garments,  leaving little doubt that it was his creation. In 1964 the Pieta was loaned by Pope John XXIII, (“JP23”) to the New York World’s Fair. Francis Cardinal Spellman requested it and millions lined up to see the sculpture in the borough of Queens, New York. Although the Pieta has been damaged it has always been meticulously restored. Mary’s eyelid was once broken and it took over 20 tries to restore it perfectly! © 2020

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