Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Pieta of Michaelangelo

The Pieta of Michaelangelo
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Another story from my trip to Italy: we were spending the morning at St. Peter's, which is really, for my money, THE knock-down architectural wonder and holy-ghost-power dwelling place of the Most High. Anyway. A lady still occasionally needs to freshen up, so after some jaw-gaping appreciation of the larger cathedral I went off to find the powder room, and almost fell out when I happened upon the Pieta in the hallway, just sitting there in all its silent numinosity.

I approached it with baited breath and practically on tip-toe, and stood there plucking at my shirt buttons and trying not to sob. A minute or so later I was distracted by the sound of footsteps, and turned to see a kind of doofusy American tourist (trucker hat, big camera around the neck, windbreaker)catch sight of Michaelangelo's Mary and Jesus. He stopped dead in his tracks, pulled his cap from his head and began to weep. I moved aside and he approached, and just stood there with his face in his hands and cried.
(damn, there goes my mascara just remembering it)

I am teaching a class at church this spring called "The Creative Spirit," which invites all the participants to share art, literature or music that has a particularly powerful spiritual impact on them.
What would *you* bring to the first session?

And, for the record, I find a lot more miraculous in Michaelangelo's gifts, and not so much miraclulous about the honey-mustard Rold Gold pretzel version of Mama and Jesu.


Blogger fausto said...

I saw the Pieta in 1964, when I was seven, at the New York World's Fair. (Don't remember if it was the same trip when I first saw "It's a Small World".) I remember that it was very rare for the Pieta to be exhibited in the US (it may have been the first time ever). I remember standing in line forever to see it, and asking my mom a lot of questions during the wait: How did they get it here? (on a ship); how did they know the ship wouldn't sink? (they didn't, but they had insurance); what good is insurance if the statue is priceless and irreplaceable? (that stumped her; I was a little UU rationalist even at 7). I remember finally seeing it and thinking it was a pretty statue and thinking how sad for a mother to have to hold her dead son, but also thinking that it wasn't worth the wait.

I guess it was not surprising that I should have thought so. That was the year my UU Sunday school class was learning about dinosaurs and evolution. The next year my agnostic/humanist parents yanked me out of the UU Sunday school and sent me to the Congregational one instead, where we colored in coloring books illustrating stories about Jesus from the Gospels. They figured I didn't have to believe it, but I had to know about it, and the UUs weren't getting the job done.

In some UU churches that's still true.

Anonymous Philocrites said...

Bach's Mass in B minor changed my life. It's a story I don't often tell — and won't try to tell here — but I'll just say that my whole outlook on life changed while listening to a recording of that great piece of music in a listening booth in the basement of the BYU library my freshman year in college. It's music so special to me I don't even put it in the category of music I love: It's revelation.

Blogger T-man-Sam_former Visigoth and musical Goddess said...

I was once almost stampeded at St. Petes and left flattened cartoonishly.
It was Good Friday (1985)and while admiring some artwork a somewhat invisible door popped open and the Pope walked out.
The Church was packed with Pilgrims and when they saw him they all crushed forward.
I was nearest and braced to be squashed.
The Pope raised his hand. And..

I was safe. I looked behind and realized I was the only person standing. Everyone was prostrate, and sobbing and praying. This was extremely unnerving to be left standing while thousands around are on the floor.

Not knowing the protocol, I started to kneel, and everyone stood up and I got pushed to the floor by the mob as they surged nearer.
The Pope had entered a confessional, causing this surge.

While dusting myself off and in shock, I was approached by a Nun and asked if I would like my confession taken by the Pope.

I was frozen and terrified(unusual for me--but I had been bonked on the ground).

I politely excused saying I was not Catholic and there were more deserving folk in the flock. The Nun said that it was ok I should go any ways. I demurred again.

It was funny but they chose the people who were the least clamoring or needy.

The Nun approached me again, and I mentioned I shouldn't, when asked why, I mentioned my family had built over 100 Orthodox churches. She said all the more reason, mention this story to the Pope.

So I got in line, a cordoned off area. And an hour or two later, the Pope left a few before my turn. So nervous was I, I was somewhat relieved.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Upon my first vision of the Vatican Pieta', I too was stopped in my tracks. Though I think I previously knew that this remarkable statue was placed in the basilica, I apparently forgot at that moment. Therefore the effect that it produced on me when I stumbled into it was that much more powerful. "Wow!!", I thought "This is it!!".

I also found out during that visit that after the damage caused on it by some lunatic decades back, the statue literally underwent 'plastic surgery'. Marble was removed from a unseen part of the sculture and applied to the damaged foot of the Savior.

A remarkable piece of art that should not be missed for those visiting the Vatican City.


Post a Comment

<< Home