Throughout his life, the Renaissance master Michelangelo sculpted not one or two, but three of his famous Pietà: a marble depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of Mary after the Crucifixion.

The last of the three was sculpted in his old age, Michelangelo beginning his work on it at 72. It was said he made it to decorate his tomb at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

After 8 years of working on it however, he destroyed the proto-Pietà in a fit of rage for reasons unknown.

Some experts believe it was because the marble proved flawed and his work could not be completed without the addition of a piece of marble from another block. While working on it, he had often complained about a vein in the marble causing him issues constantly while he sculpted.

After his fit of rage, the in-pieces proto-Pietà was sold Francesco Bandini, who hired apprentice sculptor Tiberio Calcagni to restore the work. Calcagni had to reattach the limbs of Mary Magdalene, the Virgin’s fingers, Christ’s left nipple, Christ’s left arm and elbow, and Christ’s right arm and hand – His left leg remains missing to this day.

The sculpture is said to depict “Nicodemus holding Christ’s body. His face is that of Michelangelo. The body of the crucified also rests on the Blessed Mother. They’re accompanied by Mary Magdalene.”

Held today at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Museum of the Works of the Cathedral, in Florence, it was being restored before the coronavirus pandemic stopped all work.

After Italy eased the restrictions, the museum immediately resumed the restoration work and recently unveiled the completed sculpture after cleaning away centuries of dust and wax to find artist tool marks and other details beneath.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The 13th Station breaks my heart every year during Lent, on each of those six Friday nights. It transformed my faith life in Lent 1987 and everyday since. The Stations (Way) of the Cross should be embraced throughout the liturgical year, as a means of perpetual penance and reparation for offences against the most Sacred Heart. God be praised for this miraculous restoration of true sacred art. Amen.

    • Anima Christi: Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, protect me. Blood of Christ, fill me. Water from the side of Christ, purify me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within Your wounds hide me; never permit me to leave Thee. From the evil one defend me. In my last hour, call me. And bid me come to Thee, and with your saints and angels praise Thee, throughout eternity. Amen.

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