Mission San Buenaventura dedicated Michelangelo Pieta Statue

The statue is so lifelike that a viewer can almost feel the curls of Christ’s hair.

A Vatican licensed copy of Michelangelo’s masterpiece Pieta is gifted to Mission San Buenaventura. A dedication and unveiling service was held Sunday, July 8.

Forty-one years ago, May 21, 1972, the Renaissance statue was damaged at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The incident, and what subsequently became one of the most delicate and controversial art restorations in history, stunned the world. Forty-six years later Mr. and Mrs. Brad Hanson of Arizona gifted Mission San Buenaventura the financial means to acquire the Vatican licensed exact replica from a mold of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Approximately 100 licensed replicas of the Pieta statue are being placed around the world.

Michelangelo was commissioned on August 27, 1498 and carved it out of a single block of Carrera marble he chose himself from a Tuscan quarry. The replica is composed of crushed Carrera marble from the same quarry Michelangelo chose. The crushed marble is mixed with resin and adhesives and then polished to resemble the original work of art. The Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica is viewed by millions of people a year. Now visitors to the Mission will be able to view an exact replica of the sacred art in what is now the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, formerly the Baptistery.

The folds in the Madonna’s veil seem made of muslin rather than marble. When art historian Giorgio Vasari saw the statue in 1550 he wrote in his book about the lives of artists. “It is a miracle that a rock, which before was without form, can take on such perfection that even nature sometimes struggles to create in the flesh”.

Mission San Buenaventura was founded in 1782 by St. Junipero Serra and continues to be an active Catholic parish and is open daily to the public for pilgrimage and tour.

Mission San Buenaventura, 211 East Main St www.sanbuenaventuramission.org.

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