Near-Perfect Replica of La Pietà Unveiled at St. Mark’s Hospital 

Vatican Observatory Foundation licensed sculpture loaned by a benefactor grateful for exceptional patient care

SALT LAKE CITY – St. Mark’s Hospital is the recipient of a generous gift – the loan of a full-size replica of Michelangelo’s sculpture, La Pietà. The remarkable gift comes from a benefactor wishing to express his gratitude for the exceptional care delivered to a family member in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

"The Pieta is the depiction of Mary cradling the deceased body of her son, Jesus Christ, in her arms,” notes the benefactor, Joseph Bishop. “I have heard it said by some that Michelangelo purposefully made Mary much larger in the sculpture to represent her as the world; with Christ being a gift to the world. How fitting then is it for us to provide this "gift" of the Pieta to the staff at St. Mark's Hospital for the care provided my wife's son as our special way of saying thank you."

The La Pietà replica was produced by Vescovo Buonarroti Art, which is licensed by the Vatican Observatory Foundation.  It was unveiled in January 2010 during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City. This is the first time the replica has been displayed by VBA in a healthcare venue anywhere in the world.

Steve Bateman, CEO at St. Mark’s Hospital, says, “We are humbly honored by this unexpected and extraordinary gift. It’s wonderful to see our ICU staff recognized in this way; we are very proud of the outstanding care and personal service that all caregivers at St. Mark’s provide to patients every day.”

La Pietà will be unveiled at St. Mark’s Hospital on November 9, 2010, and displayed in the hospital’s main lobby throughout the remainder of the year. This provides an exceptional opportunity for patients and their families, employees and local community members to touch and personally experience the replica of a sculpture that is world renowned for its beauty and significance to many.  

According to Steven Bishop, VBA founder, La Pietà has an ineffable healing quality that makes it a perfect fit for any healthcare venue. At St. Mark’s Hospital, it will bless the lives of patients, family members and care givers and other employees.  

“It is especially significant that this sculpture has found a home within an Episcopal-affiliated hospital,” he points out. “This validates our belief that the Pieta casts a very wide net, encompassing people and churches of all Christian faiths."

Father Lincoln Ure, hospital director of pastoral care agrees, “This beautiful sculpture is a spectacular metaphor for the integration of the spiritual with the physical. As a once-in-a-lifetime gift, it directly touches our hearts and transforms our consciousness to the spiritual dimensions at St. Mark’s Hospital, where our hearts and souls are committed to physical, spiritual and emotional healing.”

Created by Michelangelo between 1498 and 1500, La Pietà is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. It is the only one that Michelangelo ever signed. The original work of art resides at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. It was seriously damaged in 1972, and now rests behind an acrylic glass panel through which visitors can see but not touch the irreplaceable sculpture.  

Steven Bishop adds, "The VBA mission is to allow people who are not able to travel to Rome to experience this iconic masterpiece in their own home town. They can do so in a setting that provides a more intimate, meditative and contemplative experience (oft times in the silence) by being in close proximity to the sculpture without the restrictive barriers." 

The replica of La Pietà that will be displayed at St. Mark’s Hospital is faithful to the original in its detail and subtlety. It is approximately 7 feet tall as it sits on its pedestal and weighs 750 pound. This replica was professionally cast from a prototype made from the mold of the original. The finished work was performed under the direction of world-class artisans using a proprietary bonded marble blend and finish. Expert craftsman have matched the patina to resemble that of the original sculpture, which has been touched by millions of hands over the course of more than 400 years. For more information, visit

“As we bring La Pieta to people all over the world, our mission is to improve the human condition through a masterpiece that has the power to truly touch our souls,” explains Steven Bishop. “We sincerely hope this endeavor creates a ripple effect of hope, inspiration, and enlightenment at St. Mark’s Hospital as it has already in religious institutions in Virginia, Minnesota and Mexico. Our hope is that many people in cities and countries around the world will eventually enjoy the same powerful experience.”

About St. Mark’s Hospital

Salt Lake City-based St. Mark’s was Utah’s first hospital when it opened in 1872. It is the only hospital in the state to achieve the HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award in 2010. It has been ranked by Thomson Reuters as a 100 Top Hospital® for cardiovascular care eight-times, and as an overall 100 Top Hospital five-times. In 2009, this hospital was ranked #1 in Utah by HealthGrades for orthopedic and critical care services.

In addition to this hospital, MountainStar Healthcare includes Lakeview Hospital, Ogden Regional Medical Center, Brigham City Community Hospital, Lone Peak Medical Campus, Timpanogos Regional Hospital, Mountain View Hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, West Valley Medical Center, and Alaska Regional Hospital, as well as a growing number of physician, surgery and imaging centers.