The Pieta Statue is located on Savidge Street at the front and East corner of the Church. It is an exact copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta and is dedicated to the memory of the deceased priests, parishioners, religious, and friends of St. Mary’s Parish. It is one of only three full-size copies and is made of fiberglass, weighing 700 pounds. Spring Lake was selected as the home for this highly acclaimed piece of art because the parish is dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
The Pieta by Michelangelo was commissioned by Cardinal Villiers Groslaye in 1498. It is one of the few marble sculptures with his signature “Buonarrotti” carved on the Blessed Mother’s ribbon.
For many years, the Holy Father received numerous requests from around the world for a public showing of the Pieta. As the World Fair of 1964-65 in New York approached, the idea arose of displaying the Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion. The Holy Father finally consented to removing the statue from Rome for the first time. The advantages of having this piece of art seen and appreciated by several million people who would never have the opportunity to see it in the original setting was overwhelming. Before permitting the statue to leave the country, several prominent artists were called in to study the possible means of producing an exact duplicate should some unknown or unanticipated disaster befall the original during its travel across the ocean.
The artists studied this intricate sculpture and decided that no one could again capture this masterpiece except by using modern technology and copying it. By using sophisticated and meticulous processes of lamination, they produced molds directly from the original marble. Their methods picked up every minute detail with the result that an “exact reproduction” was created. This reproduction was cast in modern materials because of its many advantages of tremendous strength and ability to withstand exposure to the elements.
In order to share this world-renowned work of art, permission was granted to re-cast additional figures using the same mold. The first and original casting is still at the Vatican. The second casting is in Iowa and the third is here in Spring Lake, Michigan. A fourth one (80% in size) is located in Denver, Colorado. We are proud to have this inspiring work here on permanent display, reminding all of the great suffering and sacrifice of both Christ and His Mother. The Italian word, “Pieta”, means “Sorrowful Mother” and truly this sculpture inspires us to take up our cross, as the Blessed Virgin did. This work beautifies our church grounds and helps promote devotion to God by the many who view it as they pass by each day.