On this trip, however, I find myself spending time in front of these crucifixes. Of course many are masterpieces, painted or sculpted by renowned artist of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Just today, standing in one spot in the nave of Santa Maria Novella, I was witness to three: one carved out of wood by Brunelleschi, one painted by Giotto, and another painted by Masaccio.
These crucifixes help me remember the suffering in the world (the hunger, genocide, poverty, sexism, racism, illness) and in individuals that I know personally. In order to pray for those suffering, I have to spend time with it, and looking at a crucifix is one way to keep me there before moving on too quickly to the Resurrection. A crucifix reminds me of the Christian message and gives me a way to imagine suffering as a ‘necessary’ way to peace and to God’s kingdom now and forever.