La Pietà

La Pietà

Michelangelo’s Pietà – “Pity” – can take you by surprise with the raw emotions it provokes. The grief of a mother cradling her adult son’s violently broken body is a language that outstrips its religious origins, and speaks to the viewer on an unspoken human level. 

La Pietà by Jaime Estrada

The statue caused such a sensation when it was first carved that the 24-year-old Michelangelo felt the need to break into his own studio late at night to carve his name on the sash to prove that yes indeed, this miracle was carved by someone so young. It is a theme he returned to throughout his life, even in old age, and he left at least three versions of the same dolorous scene in different styles.

For security reasons the statue is now behind bulletproof glass (in the 1970s it was attacked by a man with a hammer) which is why this photograph is so striking. With thick glass all around it, such dramatic lighting and emotion is rarely achieved these days, so it takes a very talented photographer to capture its impact. Jaime Estrada is just such a photographer, and this shot is reproduced here with his permission. If you are as moved by his work as we were, be sure to follow him on Instagram to see more of his dramatic Rome photography.

Located just to the right of the door of St Peter’s Basilica, it is a sight to be pondered and marveled at in equal measure. Go early in the day to avoid the crowds: St Peter’s is free to visit and opens its doors at 7am.

Now make sure you don’t miss out: plan your visit in advance:

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Photo credit: AFP

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