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The Catholic Church has a rich history of commissioning world-renowned artists of the day to create beautiful works to decorate churches with the realities of the faith. From the 14th century to today, sculptures of Christ, the Blessed Mother, biblical figures and saints give us reason to pause and ponder the realities of the faith and the beauty of creation.
Here is a list of some of the most notable Christian-themed works of heart to inspire us today.
Pieta - Michelangelo
Pieta by Michelangelo
At only 25 years old, Michaelangelo was commissioned by Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas to create a sculpture of Mary holding the dead Jesus across her lap for his tomb. Mary is notably depicted as a young woman, not as a mother of a 33 year old man. But Michaelangelo defended his decision to depict her in this way siting the church’s teaching on her sinlessness. It is the only work of Michelangelo’s that he signed: Legend has it that he overheard pilgrims attribute the work to another sculptor, so he carved his signature in the sash across Mary’s chest.
Bernini - Sculpture - Tomb - Cardinal - Federico
Bernini was commissioned to create this sculpture for the tomb of the Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro. It portrays St. Teresa of Avila’s experience of religious ecstasy in her encounter with an angel who plunged her heart with a golden spear. Through the experience, she felt consumed with desire for God’s love.
Body - St - Cecilia - Altar - Church
In 1600, the incorrupt body of St. Cecilia was found under the altar of the same church that bore her name. A renovation of the Cathedral was commissioned including a new tomb, where this sculpture resides. Maderno’s sculpture also replicates the position in which her body was discovered. She extends three fingers with her right hand and one with her left, a symbol of the Trinity,...
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