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Lamentation, The Story

Lamentation

“Lamentation,” North Italian or Bolognese school, oil on metal, c. 1575-1650.

The scene of Christ mourned by the Virgin, saints, and angels after the crucifixion is variously called the “Deposition,” “Pieta” or “Lamentation.” The Gospels refer briefly to the disciples taking the body of Christ down from the Cross in Matthew 27:57-59Mark 15:44-46; Luke 23:52-53, and John 19:38-40. None of these texts describe the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of her son. The grief-stricken Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalena appear on the left. A small winged angel or “putto” holds Christ’s left arm, while Mary Magdalena holds his other hand with her fingers intertwined with his, an unusual gesture. Simultaneously she leans over as if to kiss the nail wound in his hand.  Her jar of ointment rests on the top of the sarcophagus, or burial chest. Other angels fly around in a dark and stormy sky, and at the top of the arch, two putti seem to be carrying away the cross.

Question: Who’s Mary Magdalene and why is she present at the Lamentation or Pieta?

Answer: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=83 and http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09761a.htm