Sunday, August 14, 2016

marble made flesh

Light cuts through the cool darkness inside St. Peter's Basilica, illuminating the curves of figures carved in stone, and everything glows gold. Were it not for the legions of ecstatic travellers who made their pilgrimages from all corners of the world, it would be a sombre place. I was moved by the tears in so many eyes, the wide grins, the brides in marble-white, knowing how important this moment was for so many under the same bright dome. I felt an empathy, for it was my pilgrimage too.

Thirty-odd years since I first saw its image in a weathered book, I had come from North Africa for the Pietà, to look upon the miracle of marble made flesh and fabric by Michelangelo's hands over five hundred years ago. I came for the gravity captured in the little bulge of skin made by Mary's thumb under her dead son's sinking arm, for his ankles, for the grief in her young face and outstretched hand.

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