[pee-ey-tah, pyey-tah, pee-ey-tuh, pyey-]

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pieta

Contemporary Examples of pieta

Historical Examples of pieta

  • It was when she came to pictures of the Pieta that she burst out.

    The Rainbow

    D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

  • You didn't read the words in raised letters on the base of the pieta?

    The Last Miracle

    M. P. Shiel

  • She remembered how once she had stood with him in St. Peter's—in front of the "Pieta."

    The Higher Court

    Mary Stewart Daggett

  • Aida closes the scene with the same prayer to Heaven "Pieta!"

    Stars of the Opera

    Mabel Wagnalls

  • All the saints were there in assorted sizes, the Pieta, the cradle in the manger.

    Fanny Herself

    Edna Ferber

British Dictionary definitions for pieta



a sculpture, painting, or drawing of the dead Christ, supported by the Virgin Mary

Word Origin for pietà

Italian: pity, from Latin pietās piety
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

Word Origin and History for pieta



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pieta in Culture


[(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.


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.