Art that comforts
Vatican News

Vatican Museums: The Works of Mercy #3

"Proclaiming Christ means showing that believing in Him and following Him is not only true and right, but also beautiful. At the heart of the Gospel lies the beauty of God's saving love, manifested in Jesus Christ who died and rose again." Inspired by these words of Pope Francis, the Vatican Museums and Vatican News have teamed up again to explore the masterpieces in the papal collections accompanied by the words of the Popes.

This painting provides a close-up look at the wooden cross on which the Son of God fulfilled His sacrifice. The ladder used to take Jesus down still leans on the cross. Jesus’ body lies in the loving arms of His mother and John. At His feet, two other Apostles and Mary Magdalene are depicted. Behind Jesus stands Joseph of Arimathea and St. Peter, who is usually absent from paintings of this scene. Nicodemus, the Pharisee, stands on the opposite side.

The moment of mourning first appeared in Christian art around the 12th century, probably under the inspiration of mystic meditations. It also recalls the lamentations that accompany funeral rites in the Eastern Mediterranean.

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

“Jesus died not only because we killed Him, but He died for us. Dying on the Cross, He saved us. He suffered and died for us. In the Church’s liturgy, we call the cruel Passion of the Lord “blessed”, because it is the source of our rebirth and of our happiness. Never again, therefore, will the cross be a place of ignominious death, but rather a symbol of victory. We can, if we so desire, receive from the tears, blood, and death of Christ our joy, hope, and salvation.”

(Pope St. Paul VI, Speech at the end of the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, 12 April 1968)

Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
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02 March 2021, 09:00