On the 6th of March, 1475 Michelangelo was born in Florence, Italy. He became one of the world’s greatest artists, an excellent sculptor, an architect and a poet.
His artistic genius became apparent when he was very young and his teacher considered Michelangelo to be a better artist than himself
After spending some time living in Rome, Michelangelo returned to his home in Florence where there was a huge block of marble standing outside the Catherdal. The marble had stood there for forty years waiting for a sculptor to make something out of it. Most people in Florence believed the task to be impossible.
Michelangelo’s eyes lit up when he saw the column and he set to work on it immediately. Everyone was astonished when they saw the finished product. It was a huge sculpture of David, the boy shepherd, ready to go and fight Goliath.
Throngs of people gathered round to see the sculpture. Most of them praised the work, but there are stories that some were critical of Michelangelo’s work at the time. “It appears to me,” said one, “that the nose is too big for the face. Can’t you change the nose?”
Michelangelo said nothing, but climbed quietly to the top of the scaffolding and pretended to make the nose smaller with his chisel. He let some dust and bits of marble fall on the critics’ heads. Then he came down.
“Is that better?” he asked.
“Sensational,” answered the critical artist, “you’ve brought it to life.”
Michelangelo smiled to himself as he saw the look of satisfaction on the critical artist’s face. This can happen very often, people thinking that they know it all when, in fact, they know nothing.
Soon enough, he was invited to Rome by the Pope and was comissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in the Vatican. The area of the ceiling was ten thousand square feet. Michelangelo did all the work himself by lying on his back on a high frame. It took him four whole years to complete the work.
When he was 72 years old, he was appointed St Peter’s architect in Rome. He died when he was 90, leaving many pricless treasures.
Michelangelo was a very religious man and his work often reflects his religious beliefs. On one occasion, Michelangelo turned to his co-artists and asked them in frustration, “Why do you fill gallery after gallery with endless images of Christ at his weakest, Christ on the cross, and more than anything else, Christ hanging lifelessly? Why focus on this chapter in his life, as if the curtain falls following that event? Christ is alive, and will reign for eternity.”
He was a very modest man. His fame was so great that his peers named him ‘the divine Michelangelo’. However, shortly before his death, the artist wrote to his friend saying that he was ‘a poor man of little value’, ‘a man who labours hard at the work God gave me as long as I can’.
It’s worth remembering that Michelangelo persevered in his work in the face of many trials. He was a very determined character who worked tirelessly despite physical difficulties and rejection by some of his peers.
He must have remembered the important lesson that he was taught by his teacher. His teacher was Bertoldo de Giovanni. Michelangelo was only 14 when he came to Bertoldo, but even then his talent was obvious. Bertoldo was wise enough to realise that talented people are often too willing to waste time rather than develop their talent and so he tried to encourage his young pupil to take his work seriously.
One day, he came into the studio and saw Michelangelo playing with a sculpture that was beneath his capabilities. Bertoldo grabbed a hammer, rushed across the room, shattered the work to pieces and shouted the unforgettable lesson, “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly.”
This dedication, which he showed throughout his life, secured Michelangelo’s place as one of the world’s greatest artists and sculptors.
Each one of us has a talent, but without the dedication it takes to develop our talent to its fullest, we will not succeed.
PRAYER: Help us, oh Lord, to always try our hardest to use the talents that we have, even if it sometimes means facing difficulties. Talent is cheap, but dedication is costly. Amen.