Stained Glass Pieta

Many mausoleums have a window in the rear part of the tomb—often made of stained glass. Many of these windows are hand painted works of art, most often depicting religious symbolism or religious figures.

This stained glass and hand-painted window features the Virgin Mary and the dead body of Jesus Christ, known as a pieta.  Works of art, usually sculptures, depicting this subject first began to appear in Germany in the 1300’s and are referred to as “vesperbild” in German.  Images of Mary and the dead body of Jesus began to appear in Italy in the 1400’s. The most famous of these sculptures is Michelangelo’s pieta which he sculpted for St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, carved when he was only 24 years old.  Pieta is Italian for “pity.”  The scene in this window is reminiscent of the sculptures that were first popularized in Germany depicting the Lamentation.

Here The Virgin Mary tenderly holds the limp and dead body of Jesus Christ, clutching Him close, Her head bowed in sorrow.

In the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History ( (October 2006)) a Bohemian Pieta on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is described in details that as easily could apply to this window from a mausoleum in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, “Images of the Virgin with the dead Christ reflect late medieval developments in mysticism that encouraged a direct, emotional involvement in the biblical stories… The sculptor exploits the formal and psychological tensions inherent in the composition…Christ’s broken, emaciated body, naked except for the loincloth, offers a stark contrast to the Virgin’s youthful figure, clad in abundant folds.”

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