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[pahy-i-tas] /ˈpaɪ ɪˌtæs/
the ancient Roman personification of familial affection, patriotism, and piety.


[pee-ey-tah, pyey-tah, pee-ey-tuh, pyey-] /ˌpi eɪˈtɑ, pyeɪˈtɑ, piˈeɪ tə, ˈpyeɪ-/
noun, (sometimes lowercase) Fine Arts.
a representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of the dead Christ, usually shown held on her lap.
Origin of Pietà
1635-45; < Italian: literally, pity < Latin pietās piety; cf. pity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for Pietas


a sculpture, painting, or drawing of the dead Christ, supported by the Virgin Mary
Word Origin
Italian: pity, from Latin pietāspiety
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Pietas



"Virgin holding the dead body of Christ," 1640s, from Italian pieta, from Latin pietatem (see piety).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Pietas in Culture
Pietà [(pyay-tah; pee-ay-tah)]

A painting, drawing, or sculpture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, holding the dead body of Jesus. The word means “pity” in Italian. (See photo, next page.)

Note: The most famous of four Pietàs by Michelangelo is a sculpture at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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