The Pietà and other Graven Images.
Possibly the most famous rendering of Mary and Jesus is the Pietà of Michelangelo in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. The youthful looking Mary is portrayed as seated, holding her dead Son across her lap, and rather than an expression of grief, Mary has an almost serene expression of resignation.
While it portrays what would clearly be a poignant moment, the Bible never mentions such a moment as having ever taken place. In the Gospel accounts, it is Joseph of Arimathaea who claimed the body of Jesus, prepared it for burial, and then laid it in the tomb-
- Matthew 27:57-61
- Mark 15:42-47
- Luke 23:50-56
- John 19:38-42
Had this scene actually happened as portrayed in the Pietà, Mary would have been considered unclean for seven days as a result of touching a dead body, as the book of Numbers explains-
Num 19:11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.
Num 19:12 He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean.
Num 19:13 Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.
Surely the thought of the "immaculate" Mary being declared unclean for a week is anathema to the Catholic mind. So, why illustrate a scene that apparently never happened?
Here is another sculpture by Michelangelo known as the Brugges Pietà depicting Mary with Jesus as a child. The theme of Michelangelo's Pietà is a common one in Catholic imagery because, in my opinion, it evokes pity and empathy for Mary, the loving "mother of the church" that willingly endured the death of her firstborn son for the sake of the sins of the world.
This kind of symbolic imagery portrays Mary as an authority figure that is subtly superior to that of her dependent child or dead son. The implication is that had it not been for the consent and assistance of Mary, the redemption of humanity would have been impossible, and God's plan of salvation would have failed.
More recently there seem to be more statues or paintings of Mary, some associated with alleged apparitions, that are the focus of Catholic attention because they are claimed to miraculously weep tears or bleed. Here is a web site with pages devoted to some of these
Weeping Statues. The veneration of these images of Mary has increased dramatically over the last century, as a direct result of the increasing emphasis the church has placed on Marian dogma, proclaimed "infallibly" (ex-cathedra) by the Papacy. The weeping icon shown here is in the Anticion Orthodox Church of Cicero Illinois.
Here you see the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse Sicily. In 1953, when first discovered to be weeping, this plaster sculpture of Mary was examined by the Catholic Church, which tested the tears scientifically and quickly approved it as a genuine miracle of God. It's veneration and display has been approved by no less than three popes, with a church, the Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime, being built specifically for the veneration of this piece of plaster. Pope John Paul II himself consecrated the church during a visit to Syracuse in November of 1994.
From the book
"Miraculous Images of Our Lady",
by Joan Carroll Cruz -Copyright © 1993,
TAN Books and Publishers, INC.,
Rockford, Illinois 61105.
Here is the shrine's web page
Our Lady of Tears.
Shrines like that of the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse Sicily are the inevitable result of these weeping or bleeding images, with literally thousands of Catholics on pilgrimage kneeling before the statues or icons as they pray to Mary for healing or for her intercession, and endlessly reciting the decades of the Rosary. Catholics claiming miracles directly attributed to these images of Mary or Jesus are legion, and have practically become a staple of the Catholic faith.
Here you see what has to be one of the more remarkable weeping, bleeding, sweating and talking statues of Mary, in Akita Japan, which has also been approved as a genuine miracle by the Roman Catholic Church. The close-up above shows the statue weeping.
But most astonishing of all, Mary is shown as if she is on the cross! The symbolism of this statue is quite unmistakable in it's meaning. It is blasphemy of the highest order and clearly AntiChrist, openly substituting Mary as the one to look for forgiveness and redemption, instead of Jesus Christ. Note this message attributed to the apparition of Mary associated with this statue:
"Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamites which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved."
Here is a web page revealing the source of the above statue's symbology, which is linked to declaring Mary the Co-Redemptrix of the human race: The Lady of All Nations.
And note this web page at Queenship Publishing promoting a book on this "miracle" that declares-
Akita: Mother of God as Co-Redemptrix!
Here is the home page of
Queenship Publishing,which is also seeking to have Mary's title of Co-Redemptrix be declared as binding dogma (See Vox Populi).
Roman Catholics would maintain that statues and icons of this sort actually aid the process of worshipping God. The truth though, is that the Bible is quite specific in it's complete prohibition of bowing down before these kind of graven images because it is nothing short of idolatry, which is very strongly condemned by God:
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven (carved) image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, ...
Deu 12:2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
Deu 12:3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
Deu 12:4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
What could more clear than that? If God himself condemns these idols in no uncertain terms, then none of the messages or miraculous events attributed to these idols or apparitions can possibly be from God. Just what does that leave you with? They are either outright fraud, or they are Satanic - there is no other choice. Catholics might as well be making and venerating golden calves! It will do them just as much good in the eyes of God.
See also Golden Cherubim, A Brass Serpent and Pictures of Your Mother.