Can’t make it to Rome this summer? No worries...a little piece of the Eternal City has just landed in DC.
Yes it is true! Michelangelo’s “Pieta”--full sized in all of its glory-- is in the Nation’s Capital!
“Where and how”? You might ask.
At St. Ann Catholic Churchin Tenleytown. Take a "Stay-ca-pilgrim-age”* and go see it. (4001 Yuma Street NW Washington, DC 20016)
I was shocked beyond words when I walked into Mass and saw right before my very eyes what can arguably be called the most beautiful portrayal of the Virgin Mary and Christ ever produced. The Vaticanapproved one hundred of these perfectly cast Pietas to be placed in various Churches and institutions all over the world. I was told that they were made from a mold that had been crafted during World War II as a safeguard measure just in case the original masterpiece was damaged. Reportedly the mold had never been used before and now, for the first time in the Nation’s Capitol’s history, the splendor of what can only be seen behind thick glass in the Vatican, is literally within arm’s reach.
Because of the close proximity and the angle from which the viewer is allowed to contemplate this breathtaking image, as it is only inches away and placed at eye level-- not elevated as is the original-- this Pieta comes to life like never before.
The Pieta is one of Michelangelo’s most famous masterpieces depicting the Blessed Mother holding Christ after He has been removed from the cross but before placing Him in the tomb. The word Pieta- means “Pity” and shows the sorrow, yet serene beauty of the Virgin Mary gently cradling the body of Jesus in a loving embrace. Her massive, mountain-like figure, the ingenious depiction of the supple folds of her voluminous clothing which turns stone into inviting softness, the strength by which she upholds the body of her Son, all made me long to crawl up into her very comforting lap. For anyone needing a beautiful hug from “Mom” this is where you will want to go. Picture yourself there with Jesus, being placed in the arms of the Blessed Mother, and just rest a while. Draw strength from the love of Christ Who has completely poured Himself out for you and also from the Blessed Mother who is ever-ready to comfort and encourage.
Jesus and the Blessed Mother are waiting....
“Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day…” John 1:38-39.
Thank You for bringing me just what I need when I need it. Thank You for inspiring artist and priests, teachers and friends to bring me You! May I too be bring You to others in big and small ways. And thank You for the gift of giving us Your Blessed Mother from the cross. May we always know that we have recourse to her and that she will in turn, bring us ultimately to You.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Pieta Fun Fact: This is the ONLY work Michelangelo signed, can you spot where?
“Here is perfect sweetness in the expression of the head, harmony in the joints and attachments of the arms, legs, and trunk, and the pulses and veins so wrought, that in truth Wonder herself must marvel that the hand of a craftsman should have been able to execute so divinely and so perfectly, in so short a time, a work so admirable; and it is certainly a miracle that a stone without any shape at the beginning should ever have been reduced to such perfection as Nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh. Such were Michelangelo’s love and zeal together in this work, that he left his name a thing that he never did again in any other work written across a girdle that encircles the bosom of Our Lady. And the reason was that one day Michelagnolo, entering the place where it was set up, found there a great number of strangers from Lombardy, who were praising it highly, and one of them asked one of the others who had done it, and he answered, “Our Gobbo from Milan.” Michelagnolo stood silent, but thought it something strange that his labors should be attributed to another; and one night he shut himself in there, and, having brought a little light and his chisels, carved his name upon it.”