No depiction of our Blessed Mother is more familiar and more stirring than Michelangelo’s Pieta. Christ the Son held in His mother’s arms. Her pain and suffering masked by a serenity that can be difficult to explain. A mother who watched her son suffer unimaginable torture at the hands of Roman soldiers and the ridicule of a people who welcomed Him with open arms only days earlier. A mother who saw her son sentenced to death for no crime and then watched Him carry the implement of His death to the place where the unjustified punishment would be meted out. One can only speculate as to Michelangelo’s thoughts as he created his masterpiece and his purpose behind the peacefulness of her appearance. When I find myself standing before the Pieta, I am moved by the appearance of our Blessed Mother holding our Lord who humbled Himself to suffer death. Our Savior who loved us so much that He accepted His fate as commanded by our Father to free us of sin and understand better our humanity.
When I stand before the Pieta and consider its’ true meaning, I realize that it is more than a depiction of our Blessed Mother and our Savior but more importantly for us it is a mother holding her son. In that brief moment, the artist has captured the vision of a woman with her child in a tender embrace, His suffering has ended and she is granted a brief moment of peace, relief that His pain is no more. It is difficult to separate the woman who we see as our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary who gave birth to our Savior from her humanity, but it is her humanity that connects her to us. It is this connection to her humanity that brings her closer to us and allows us to know she suffers with us when our hearts suffer the pain of the death of someone we love.
It is His death and resurrection that gives us hope and it is with this hope in our hearts that we bring our deceased loved ones to our Catholic cemeteries to wait for the day when His promise will be fulfilled.
Andrej N. Lah, Director