Mary, Mother of the Church

– Memorial, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church –

‘Woman, here is your son.’ …… ‘Here is your mother.’ (John 19:26,27)

The marble masterpiece ‘La Pieta’ by Michelangelo offers a profound and iconic depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion, with Mary tenderly holding her lifeless son in her arms.  This famous sculpture beautifully depicts the physical suffering of Christ and the emotional suffering of his mother.  As a mother, this image deeply moves me, as it reaches into the depths of all parental anguish.  Surprisingly, it has become one of my cherished meditation aids, guiding my prayers and thoughts, as I empathise with Mary’s unimaginable sorrow and grief.

What strikes me most is Mary’s serene countenance amidst the tragedy; she doesn’t wail or protest; she isn’t bent over him in bouts of sobbing; but rather, her posture suggests acceptance of the sacrifice her son made for humanity.  This serene acceptance is what led Pope Francis in 2018 to decree the inclusion of a liturgical feast, commemorating Mary’s maternal strength and devotion.  The Decree states that this feast “will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.”  This Feast, celebrated annually on the Monday following Pentecost, serves as a poignant reminder of Mary’s unwavering faith, love, and maternal hope for the Church.

I find comfort in the serene gaze Michelangelo has set in stone. It reminds me of the steadfast love and motherly protection Mary gives to us and to the world.  Although a sorrowful scene, it is also a reminder of her hope in God and her hope for humanity.

By Colleen Tracey 

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