“Rachel Weeping” was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus of St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson, MS. They wanted to emphasize “Respect for all Human Life” with a monument that was also a memorial to the loss of innocent life. The concept of the sculpture is based on the scripture in Jeremiah 31:15 “Behold, Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted because they were no more.”
View the bronze casting process from the original clay to the finished monument of “Rachel Weeping” at this link. Photos: Barbara Gauntt
The symbolism of “Rachel Weeping” is rich in meaning. There are many elements created within the sculpture that poignantly reflect the message of the monument. Below are photos and descriptions of these various symbols.
The Baby Blanket & Drapery Fold
There is dramatic movement in the drapery and hair of the figure of Rachel.
Bernini, the Baroque sculptor who created most of the sculptures in St Peter’s in Rome, used the movement of the hair and the drapery to reflect the inner spirit and emotion of the figure. In the figure of Rachel, this movement reflects her turmoil and grief.
To emphasize to the viewer that her mourning is over the loss of innocent life, there is sharp contrast between the drapery of Rachel and the fabric of the blanket. Instead of dramatic movement the baby blanket is inert, with gravity pulling on it so the folds of the blanket are very heavy; representing the heaviness of loss.
There is only one other place in the sculpture that this particular fold is repeated. And that is a fold tucked into the front of the belt where the viewer will find that same straight gravity laden fold.
As the fold starts at the feet and goes up to the womb, one discovers that the fold is also echoed in the blanket itself and ties in visually and mentally the grieving mother and the loss of the child.