Michelangelo pieta

Michelangelo’s La Pieta: Meaning, Facts & Complete Analysis


One of the most inevitable tourist destinations of Vatican City, Michelangelo’s la Pieta possesses a rich and appealing charisma, tugging thousands of visitors from across the globe. Along with the Pieta meaning and all the facts and curiosities related to it, here you will discover everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Pieta by Michelangelo in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican.

Michelangelo’s Pieta Analysis

A French cardinal named Jean De Biltieres hired Michelangelo to sculpt Pieta as a monument at his tomb. Michelangelo had to create “the most beautiful work of marble in Rome, one that no living artist could better.” So does depict his Pieta: the chastity of Mary, her passion towards her son, and the principle sublimity of death.

The portrayal of Mary in his Pieta too young to be a mother of a 33 years old son. About which Michelangelo had a thought, as recorded by his biographer Ascanio Condivi,

“Do you not know that chaste women stay fresh much more than those who are not chaste? How much more in the case of the Virgin, who had never experienced the least lascivious desire that might change her body?”

Contrary to being a work of loud cry of mourning or devastation at the death of Jesus, Mary exhibits rather a serene scene of tranquility and graceful acceptance. Though Jesus’ head is thrown back in the helplessness of human death, Mary recognizes the originality of life.

This is such a profound statement of the Renaissance on the death of Jesus that is actually a foundation to eternal life.

How to Figure Out Michelangelo Pieta Meaning

La pieta Meaning
Michelangelo's_Pieta_@wikimedia-min

Here is a quick meaning of the Pieta sculpture to help you understand what the artist had in mind.

The word Pietà finds its origins in the Italian word for “pity” and the Latin word for “piety”, giving it a sense of “compassion” and “devotion” altogether. Apparent from the depiction of Mary and her dead son in her lap, the compassion of the mother towards her dead son is quite obvious.

Besides that, the Pieta has also a sign that even after the death of Jesus, his followers would never fall short of devotion for him.

Michelangelo’s Sculpture Pieta Facts & Curiosities

  1. At the time of Michelangelo, the tragic moment of Mary taking Jesus down from the cross was very popular in Northern European art.
  2. The Pieta by Michelangelo was carved from a single slab of marble, quarried from Carrara.
  3. The depiction of Mary to be too young was criticized by many religious authorities.
  4. As Michelangelo grew up in Florence, a center of the early Renaissance that reflects from the pyramidal structure of the Pieta
  5. Michelangelo carved out sheets of gentle draping garments over Mary's head to conceal it since it was a bit too small for her very large body cradling her 33 years old son.
  6. Pieta was the first and the last work of Michelangelo to be signed by him.
  7. On Pentecost Sunday of 1972, Laszlo Toth attacked the statue with 12 blows of hammers and damaged Mary’s left arm, her nose, cheek, and left eye.
  8. When the restorers took to work after the attack, they discovered an engraved “M” in the folds of Mary’s left hand, supposedly standing for Mary or Michelangelo.
  9. The restoration took 10 months with the earlier five deciding whether or not to repair the damage. Finally, it was decided to repair the Pieta as if no one had ever attacked it.
  10. The Pieta was displayed as part of the 1964 New York World's Fair while being secured behind seven massive protective glass sheets weighing more than 4900 pounds.

Details about the Pieta Michelangelo signature

When Michelangelo was assigned the work on Pieta, he was not a famous artist yet. Similarly, when the Pieta was showcased to the public in the church of the French cardinal, Chapel of Santa Petronilla, it was wrongly understood to be sculpted by some other contemporary artist other than Michelangelo.

This made him feel so upset that he took a light and chisel into the chapel and signed his Pieta right across the body of Mary. Being the only one to be signed by him, Michelangelo’s signature on the Pieta can be seen as “Michala(n)gelus Bonarotus Florentin(us) Facieba(t)” that means “Michelangelo Buonarotti made this.”

Visiting Michelangelo’s Pieta – St. Peter's Basilica opening hours

Visiting St Peters Basilica
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Below you can see the opening hours of St. Peter’s Basilica:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

  • From 8:45 am to 10 am.
  • From 10 am to 1 pm.
  • From 1 pm to 3 pm.
  • From 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

Wednesday and Sunday

  • From 1 pm to 3 pm.
  • From 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

How to get St. Peter's Basilica Tickets to See Michelangelo’s La Pieta

As we have already established that Michelangelo’s La Pieta resides in St. Peter’s Basilica, it’s time to get your tickets to book your visit now. Buy your skip-the-line tickets online now and enjoy multiple packages of your choice.

How to get there

The tourists may avail Hop-on-Hop-off buses to roam around the Vatican City. Cruises may also be booked for a wonderful touring experience. You can easily get to Michelangelo’s Pieta as it houses within the first chapel to the right of the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica.

FAQs – Michelangelo Pieta

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Where is Michelangelo's Pieta?

Michelangelo’s Pieta is in the first chapel on the right after entering St. Peter’s Basilica, between the Holy Door and the Altar of Saint Sebastian, in Vatican City.

How old was Michelangelo when he sculpted the Pieta?

Michelangelo began working on the La Pieta when he was 23 years old. He started the sculpture in 1498.

Why did Michelangelo sculpt the pieta?

A French cardinal named Jean De Biltieres hired Michelangelo to sculpt Pieta for his own funeral.

Where did Michelangelo sign the Pieta?

In the church of the French cardinal, Chapel of Santa Petronilla, Michelangelo signed his Pieta right across the body of Mary. Being the only one to be signed by him, Michelangelo’s Pieta is engraved with a sign “Michala(n)gelus Bonarotus Florentin(us) Facieba(t)” that means “Michelangelo Buonarotti made this.”

How long did it take Michelangelo to sculpt the Pieta?

It took Michelangelo just over a year to sculpt the Pieta. He started the sculpture in 1498 and completed it in 1499.

What does pieta mean?

The word Pietà finds its origins in the Italian word for “pity” and the Latin word for “piety”, giving it a sense of “compassion” and “devotion altogether.

What does pietas mean in Latin?

In Latin, pietas mean “filial piety” just as represented by Virgin Mary’s sculpture cradling her dead son Jesus in Michelangelo’s in Pieta. Likewise, the word pietas in Latin may verily suggest 'loyalty', 'sense of duty', 'religiosity', 'devotion', or 'tenderness'.

What is the Michelangelo’s Pieta 1547?

Michelangelo worked on The Deposition sculpture, also famous as the Florentine Pieta, between 1547 and 1555. This sculpture is exposed in Florence, not in Rome.

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