La Pietà – “Pity” – can take you by surprise with the raw emotions it conveys. 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 a universal 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 carve his name on the sash to prove that yes indeed, this miracle was carved by someone so young.

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 opens its doors at 7am.

For security reasons the statue is now behind bulletproof glass, which is why this photograph is so striking. 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.

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Photo credit: AFP

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