More than 500 years after 24-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti completed the “Pietà,” a full-scale replica of the Renaissance treasure now rests inside Mission San Buenaventura.

The replica — fashioned, like the original, from Carrara marble — is one of only 112 marble replicas worldwide, licensed through the Vatican Observatory Foundation and distributed through ArteDivine S.A.

A public unveiling of the sculpture was celebrated during a July 8 prayer service at the historic downtown Mission, attended by 300 people including ArteDivine’s Richard and Esther Stewart of Santa Clarita, and Jacqueline and Brad Hanson, of Arizona, whose donation made acquisition of the replica possible.

“Michelangelo said the Holy Spirit guided his hands through creating the ‘Pietà,’ ” noted Richard Stewart, founder of the humanitarian organization Help Worldwide, “and when you gaze on this sculpture, you can’t help but feel the love and forgiveness of Christ that he offered to the world.”

The “Pietà” — representing the Blessed Virgin Mary cradling her crucified son, Jesus — is Michelangelo’s only work that he ever signed. The replica donated to Mission San Buenaventura is composed of Carrara marble from the same quarry Michelangelo chose. The replica has been placed in the former baptistery and is framed by blue faux curtains and gold prayer lettering designed by MB Hanrahan, and a new stained-glass window by Belgar “Chief” Merlich.

Father Tom Elewaut, mission pastor, offered his and the parish’s gratitude to the Hansons, the Stewarts and to God. “We cannot say thank you enough to God for all the gifts he provides, gifts of art and creativity and generosity that inspire all of us,” he said.

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