The pietà image serves two primary purposes in devotion. First, we empathize with Mary mourning her Son, following her in feeling the depths of loss and agony. We stand briefly in that period of time between Calvary’s “It is finished” and Easter’s “He is risen indeed!”
But beyond this mourning, we also see in the pietà the object of compassion. While the dead Christ shows us loss, the sorrowing mother invites us be compassionate towards our masters: the frail, the weak, the sick, and the poor—indeed, anyone who is suffering.