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