Tuesday, 14 March 2017


The word ‘Pieta’ literally means ‘pity’. It inspires a form of art that shows Jesus’ mother Mary weeping over her son’s dead body. The artwork can be sculptured, like Michelangelo's well known marble in the Vatican. But the image can be represented using any medium.
     The pieta image usually invites us to look at the Crucifixion from Mary’s point of view. It’s her personal tragedy. She has nursed him from birth till now, and has just witnessed the full horror of her son being tortured to death. His killing was a politically motivated and choreographed execution. She has seen all of it, knew its purpose and foresaw its end, and she was wholly powerless to stop it.
     Our modern era likes to medicalise stress. We talk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). The pieta image seeks to explore the effect of that PSTD on Mary and her soul.
     Some depictions seek a highly representative image, to help us see the effect on Mary. Sometimes the image is more abstract to give us a bit of leeway as we explore the effect, and maybe move some of the emotional cost from Mary on to ourselves.

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