In visual arts, the Pietà is a depiction of the suffering Mother of God, cradling Jesus’ dead body after the Descent from the Cross. “Pietà” is an Italian word meaning “piety” or “pity”.
Central-European statuary developed this subject during the 14th century, although the exact dating is a matter of controversy. It is among the most successful figures of the Middle Ages. Nowadays, this figure can be found in almost every church, because this scene liturgically corresponds to the second last Station of the Cross.
In German-speaking countries, the Pietà is sometimes also called “Vesperbild” (depiction of vespers). This reflects the religious tradition that says that it was around the time of the evening prayer (vespers), when Mary received Jesus’ dead body on her lap on Good Friday.
The most noted Pietà is for certain the one created by Michelangelo. This marble sculpture can be seen in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.