Michaelangelo’s Pieta Housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy; in Carrera marble.
Contemplate Jesus’ body, the lifelessness communicated in the marble, the way Jesus’ shoulder and its flesh yield to his mother Mary’s hand as she holds her son for the last time.
Jesus is human, suffering and obedient to the point of death, gaunt and spent in the first arms to have comforted him.
The Mystery and the Paradox
13 June 2015 – The Feast of G.K. Chesterton, Apologist and Writer
First, I give you many thanks for the opportunity to contemplate this magnificent piece of art.
This piece, to me, illustrates, graphically, the mystery and paradox of the Christian faith. We see a human mother bereaved at the death of her son who at the same time: ” In her utter sadness and devastation, she seems resigned to what has happened, and becomes enveloped in graceful acceptance. Italian Renaissance. Org http://www.italianrenaissance.org/michelangelos-pieta/
and thereby becomes her son’s own daughter as his divine nature reaches its fulfillment. Paradoxically Mary is raised up by the very thing which causes her pain and suffering. Both Mother and Daughter she has been and becomes.
One art historian notes that Michelangelo was criticized for portraying Mary as a woman much too young to have had a son of Jesus age. His reply was that due to her chaste nature Mary did not age as other less chaste women did. However, his portrayal of Mary as a young woman leads us to perceive the paradox of her being as both Jesus mother and his daughter. By his death she is raised from death as his mother to life everlasting as his daughter.
In the New Testament lesson appointed for today, the Feast of GK Chesterton, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Saint Paul writes:
Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
G.K. Chesterton has been described as a defender of what he called “orthodoxy” which was for him an acknowledgement of the mystery and paradox of the Christian faith in an age of increasing skepticism. In his works such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man he defended the Christian faith blending wit and religious fervor “while simultaneously satirizing the prevailing viewpoints of the day that often sought to dismiss faith as irrational and unnecessary.” (Holy Women, Holy Men, Church Pension Fund, 2010). Chesterton, therefore, continued to affirm through his writings the earlier revelations of scripture and that of Michelangelo’s sculpture.