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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:39

Video transcript

we're in st. Peter's Basilica standing in front of Michelangelo's pietà I feel very lucky because on this rainy Monday morning we're the only ones and it's actually looks quite small good daddy in relationship to the chapel that holds it but also just especially in relationship to st. Peter's which is so vast of course this sculpture was made for Cardinal but then it was placed in the old st. Peter's which was significantly smaller than this one and so it would have had a different relationship to the architecture what's it what I'm finding interesting is despite the fact that it's relatively small and probably about 20 feet away from us it's still a really intimate image there it really is this extraordinary relationship that Michelangelo has constructed between the body of the dead Christ and his mother the Virgin Mary who holds him on her lap Mary looks very young and beautiful but her bodies and her lap is sort of enlarged to carry the body of her dead son but the realism of that dead body of its its way one of the most beautiful passages I think of the sculpture is the way that she holds up his right arm and pulls up that flesh a little bit yeah you really feel first of all that the marble is transformed by Michelangelo into flesh but also the weight of that body and through that weight the loss of life that's so palpable for Mary it's the complete lack of resistance that his body offers and the exertion that she has to extend in order to hold it in that contrast makes for the viewer I think in a very physical experience looking at the sculpture his body looks so much like the body of a real young man the ribcage and the abdominal muscles and yet it's also idealized in the way in which there's this beautiful turn of his body across her lap and for Mary as well this is interesting contradiction in her sweetness and the beauties but also the strength and the scale it's necessary for her to easily hold him look how deeply carved that marvelous drapery this love the turn of the stone the creating a very vivid sense of alternation really of light and shadow of complexity of surface against the broad pure surfaces of Christ's legs of his torso of zarm Mary tilts her head forward and looks down at him his head is thrown back so there's such a nation between those two necks for me and his neck is exposed to us incredibly vulnerable Christ's foot hangs in midair Mary her left hand is open and pointing delicately forward as if she still tried to comprehend his death but I think there's also a way of presenting Christ's body to the viewer saying this is the path to salvation this is God's sacrifice for mankind my sacrifice of my sons that makes possible your Redemption there is a kind of rhythm that points to that hand the drape and the mean point up towards Christ knees which in turn create a kind of rhythmic bridge to her hand and to that sense of wandering this is very clearly an image that's meant to be contemplated and the pain and the suffering that Christ is endured and Mary's endure that Mary is enduring is meant to be contemplated as a pathway there polishing the floor ok let's move on