La Messe Est Dite (The Mass is Over)
More than 140 years had passed since Friedrich Nietzsche had spoken about the Death of God. It was Christmas Eve. The mass had just ended and the Pope had left. People had started streaming out from the immense St. Peter’s basilica to go back home. Until then, that huge space had been kept together by the strict order of the ritual. But now, as the ceremony was over, it was like all elements in that space were freed and had entered a suspended time, a brief limbo where human figures were floating without mission or direction. As the basilica was emptying, chairs were being removed, lights were being dimmed and switched off – in that suspended space – I started thinking about Nietzsche, about the human ability to believe and doubt, to create and destroy. The basilica was almost totally dark now. The only spot-light left hit Michelangelo’s Pietà, by the exit. The sculpture is considered one of the greatest human works of art of all times, a symbol of the Renaissance. It was probably around then, long before the German philosopher, that humans had started their push to go beyond gods. I looked at the statue hit by the light, behind a Vatican guard. A mother was holding her dead son. That man was the world-changing baby whose birth Christians everywhere on Earth were celebrating that night.