[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.

1635–45; < Italian: literally, pity < Latin pietās piety; cf. pity

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World English Dictionary
pietà (pɪɛˈtɑː)
a sculpture, painting, or drawing of the dead Christ, supported by the Virgin Mary
[Italian: pity, from Latin pietāspiety]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"Virgin holding the dead body of Christ" is 1644, from It., from L. pietatem (see piety).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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 American Heritage® 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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