Nestled in a corner of Monument Square sits an almost life-sized reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pieta of St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy, a rare sculpture in this corner of the world. After nearly 50 years of winter weather, tree sap and rain, the Pieta practically blended in with its surroundings, covered in moss and unkempt. But because of one Concord resident’s personal experience of the Pieta, the sculpture is now eye-catching upon entering Monument Square.
Nestled in a corner of Monument Square, between the rectory of Holy Family Parish and the war memorial, sits an almost life-sized reproduction of Michelangelo’s Pieta of St. Peter’s Basilica in Italy, a rare sculpture in this corner of the world.
If the location of the statue is still difficult to recall or the name does not ring a bell, you are not alone.
Often overlooked by passing tourists and traffic, the replica is situated beneath a cover of trees. After nearly 50 years of winter weather, tree sap and rain, the Pieta practically blended in with its surroundings, covered in moss and unkempt.
However, because of one Concord resident’s personal experience of the Pieta, the sculpture is now eye-catching upon entering Monument Square. A gleaming white, the depiction of Mary cradling the body of Jesus Christ has once again attracted onlookers and questions.
“I do not think you have to be religious to be struck by this statue,” said Robin Masi, the woman behind the restoration of Concord’s Pieta.
More interestingly, the company hired to do the restoration work has confirmed the statue has an artistic significance as well.
According to Miroslav Maler of Building Monument Conservation, the statue is made from Carerra marble, which is only found in the same area of Italy where Michelangelo obtained the one block of marble for the original and many other Renaissance sculptures.
“This is an interesting project,” said Maler. “I have seen the original a long time ago.”
Maler is not the only one who remembers being inspired by the original.
As a girl, Masi spent time in Italy, alongside her family as her Air Force father was stationed there. On the weekends and dragging her heels, Masi accompanied her family to tourist spots, many of which were cathedrals.
On a particular afternoon, her parents brought her to St. Peter’s Basilica.
“This experience is very vivid,” said Masi. “It was quite an experience seeing it for the first time.”
The beauty of Mary and her youthful appearance immediately struck Masi. As she stepped closer to the Pieta, she was drawn to the intricate folds of the fabric and the way the marble sculpture appeared soft to the touch.
When her family left the cathedral, Masi was still thinking about the sculpture. Her father asked what her favorite part of the day was and instead of choosing the chocolate they had stopped for afterward, Masi said it was the Pieta.
Since then, “I’ve always been drawn to it,” said Masi. Coming from an Italian family who shared a love for Michelangelo, “the statue is one that has a lot of meaning for my family.”
As an artist, Masi has routinely drawn from photographs of the Pieta. Michelangelo’s work has almost become an obsession for her.
After moving to Concord, and discovering the Pieta in the center of town, Masi has been a regular visitor of the statue.
“There was such a strong connection and it was kind of coincidental I moved to a town with the statue,” she said. Even though it was dark and covered with moss, it was still beautiful, she said.
Then, her father became ill. Before passing away, Masi penned and illustrated a book, titled “Dad, The Pieta and Me.” She feverishly worked on the book last winter, completing it in time to give it to her father before he died this past May. “The statue became a way for he and I to connect,” he said.But still, she wanted to do more.
So she spoke with the Rev. Austin Fleming of Holy Family Parish, where she is a member. He was supportive of her idea to restore the replica in honor of her father.
Masi had heard of Building Monument Conservation. The company, which is owned by Ivan Myjer, has reconstructed parts of St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City and the Plymouth Monument, to name a few.
Using the money left to her by her father, Masi paid for the three-week restoration on her own.
A finger of Mary’s had broken off. Using a piece of similar granite, a mold was made and the finger reattached.
Covered and damaged with moss and acid rain, the Pieta required the restoration artists to chemically clean and then apply several coats of a protective layer.
At the end of last week, Maler was completing the final stages of restoring and protecting the reproduction.
“The marble has become so porous in many areas,” said Maler. “This kind of a chemical penetrates the marble and strengthens the surface.”
Donning a ventilation mask, Maler worked on Friday afternoon with complete concentration. Almost like an artist himself, he was busy applying a clear chemical to Michelangelo’s replication with a paintbrush and dabbing off excess.
“He’s the master and I am just futzing around,” said Maler with a chuckle.
Now, since the Pieta is clean, it has been attracting more visitors, said Masi. She would like to create a more welcoming area around the statue and place a restoration plaque in honor of her father.
However, because the church has no records of how the statue arrived in its place, the plaque may have to wait.
“They do not know how the statue got here,” said Masi. “They have been going back and looking at records.”
Until that time, the statue now sits in the corner attracting more visitors with an air of mystery.
“I think he would be proud and very appreciative,” said Masi of her father Joseph.
Described as quiet and dignified, she said, “He would not want to call much attention to himself.”Almost like Concord’s version of the Pieta.