by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — An exact replica of one of the most renowned sculptures in history has made its way to Savior Pastoral Center here.
This Pietà, the original of which was created by Michelangelo between 1498-1499, now allows visitors to the Kansas City, Kansas, facility to view the artistry of the piece that millions travel to Rome to see each year.
“This is a master who created some of the world’s greatest art ever,” said Tim Chik, director of Savior, of Michelangelo. “His sculptures have stood the test of time and have been appreciated for their sheer beauty and artistic integrity.
“But he himself felt [the Pietà] was divinely guided, and his hand was moved by the Spirit.”
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas unveiled the Pietà during a blessing ceremony with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 7.
Now, the archdiocese is eager for more Catholics to experience in person the life-size marble sculpture of Mary holding Jesus after his death.
The opportunity came about thanks to Pat Kerivan, director of sales at Arte Divine, a distributor of exact castings of several of Michelangelo’s sculptures and other works of art.
“Before World War II,” said Kerivan, “the Vatican was scared all of the sculptures in Rome would be stolen by the Germans or the Russians.
“So, they made molds of all the sculptures in case they did, so they could recreate them.”
The sculptures were never stolen, but Arte Divine was curious about the molds’ potential.
The organization approached the Vatican 20 years ago, asking if it could utilize them for reproductions.
The team received permission to recreate 112 castings of the Pietà. The first 12 were sent out for approval, and now Arte Divine is attempting to spread its remaining 43 out across the country.
Chik explained that when he was first approached by Kerivan four years ago about procuring a casting, the archdiocesan capital campaign was in full swing, and it wasn’t the right time.
But now, the 57th casting of the Pietà has found a home at Savior, and the archdiocese will seek to raise enough funds to keep it there permanently.
“It’s a very exciting time to be a part of this endeavor,” said Chik. “We really think that our prime location in the Midwest is a key part of this.”
Chik hopes visitors from Kansas and neighboring states will make the trip to Savior to view the Pietà, touch it, pray in front of it and take pictures with it.
“These are individuals, probably a lot of people, who will never get to go to Rome and will never see Pietà in person,” he said. “Here, you can get really close.
“You can reach up and touch it. You can put your hand on Jesus’ leg and hold Mary’s hand as she’s holding Jesus. That tactile experience is what stays with you.”
Kerivan emphasized the powerful emotions the Pietà can elicit.
“For our youth,” he said, “the Pietà serves to focus the hearts and minds of our students toward God and keep him ever-present in their daily lives.
“For our sick and elderly, the Pietà serves to inspire healing, hope, peace and compassion. There’s so many things for so many people to get out of it.”
Those who visit Savior will not only encounter the Pietà, but dozens of other high-quality reproductions of artwork — a collection gifted to the center by Edward D. McCarthy in 2020.
“When you do contemplate these beautiful pieces,” said Chik, “I think it really can help us to rise above some of the petty and mundane issues that sometimes seem to divide us.
“Appreciation of the arts and appreciation of beauty can elevate our minds to God.”
Chik encourages those interested to contact Savior to arrange a time to see the McCarthy collection and the Pietà.
“[The] Pietà really is a special piece for the history of humanity,” said Chik. “And we get to have a little part of that right here at Savior Pastoral Center.”
To schedule a visit, call the pastoral center at (913) 721-1097. If you are interested in becoming a benefactor to keep the Pietà at Savior, send an email to: email@example.com.
Note: Christ the King Church in Topeka also has a replica of the Pietà. For more information and to get in touch, visit their website at: ctktopeka.org.