A pietà (meaning “pity”, “compassion”) is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ. When Christ and the Virgin are surrounded by other figures from the New Testament, the subject is strictly called a lamentation in English, although pietà is often used for this as well, and is the normal term in Italian.
A famous example by Michelangelo was carved from a block of marble and is located in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. The body of Christ is different from most earlier pietà statues, which were usually smaller and in wood. The Virgin is also unusually youthful, and in repose, rather than the older, sorrowing Mary of most pietàs. She is shown as youthful for two reasons; God is the source of all beauty and she is one of the closest to God, also the exterior is thought as the revelation of the interior (the virgin is morally beautiful). The Pietà with the Virgin Mary is also unique among Michelangelo’s sculptures, because it was the only one he ever signed, upon hearing that visitors thought it had been sculpted by Cristoforo Solari, a competitor. His signature is carved as MICHAELA[N]GELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTIN[US] FACIEBA[T] “Michelangelo Buonarroti the Florentine did it”.