Mary is for everyone, the model of Christian life. She was Jesus’ best disciple. Mary, who accompanied her Son all the way to Calvary and who, with her attitude of internal recollection and humble listening, always knew how to allow herself to be led by God as a pilgrim of faith.
The image of the Pieta invites all who gaze at it to ponder the serene and beautiful face of Mary. This is a sculpture that speaks in silence. The most obvious characteristic and, maybe for that reason the most forgotten one when thinking of Mary, is her womanhood.
Within the first pages of the Sacred Scripture, Eve, mother of all the living, took the forbidden fruit from the tree. In doing so, she closed the door for herself and all her descendants to the place God had created for the happiness of all his children. Michelangelo’s sculpture seems to have as a backdrop those first pages of the Bible. Mary at the foot of the cross is the New Eve who picks a better fruit from a better tree. Jesus, on Mary’s lap, is the fruit that does not bring death to those who receive it, but life without end. The actions of Eve and Mary are contrary to one another: the first wanted to “be like God” through disobedience, taking the fruit almost by stealing it. Mary, on the other hand, didn’t take, but instead receives her dead Son and does so as “handmaid of the Lord”, trusting in her God until the end. She understood that the road to true Life does not allow shortcuts.
I firmly believe that Michelangelo’s Pieta speaks in a special way to women and their unique sensibility. As St. John Paul II has written, “a woman cannot find herself if it is not in giving love to others”. The Pieta reminds women that their strength always lies within a love that is capable of suffering, of giving without limits, of resisting until the end. From the Pieta emerges a model of womanhood: serene, strong, beautiful, pure, loyal and wholly feminine.
Throughout the Gospel we see in Mary profoundly feminine traits. We could say that standing at the foot of the cross, she is more woman than ever: she is, in fact, the new woman who, like Eve, is born from the open side of man. May she teach all women to nourish their feminine genius, to guard it with delicacy in their hearts, and to use it to enlighten society, our communities and families, and the entire world.