Pietà

One of the scenes of Good Friday that most touches me is Jesus being taken down from the Cross and laid in the arms of his mother.

There are two images that I would like to meditate on this year.

The first is Michelangelo’s Pietà in Florence. When I first saw it in 1973, in the Duomo of Florence, it deeply moved me, especially the emotion in the face of the man in the sculpture. Two years ago I encountered the sculpture again in the Duomo Museum in Florence. Though it is no longer in a place of prayer, it evokes prayer, more than the famous Pietà in the Vatican.

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The second image is not exactly a Pietà. It is the image of a mother and her dead son in a memorial in the Neue Wache in Berlin. It is the work of Käthe Kollwitz, an artist and sculptor who identified with the cause of the poor and oppressed and opposed all war. The tragedy of the death of a son is evident in her hand holding her son’s.

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As I meditate on these images I think of the mothers who have lost their children this year – to war, to illness, to preventable diseases.

Looking on them, may our hearts be opened to be filled with the mercy of God.

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