Sedes Sapientiae

Seat of Wisdom
The title called “Seat of Wisdom” refers to the throne of Solomon. Mary is personified wisdom sitting on Solomon’s throne made of ivory and gold (1 Kg 10:18-20). In fact, sitting on the throne of Solomon she comes to be the throne upon which her Son, “the Wisdom of the Father," is seated.

The cameo of mother and child is surrounded by symbols of science and knowledge (globe, telescope, square). The lower half of the architectural façade shows a group of seven feminine figures standing around the throne, which bears the simple inscription Verbum, the Word. The throne of Solomon is no longer that of human but of divine wisdom, the Word of God made man. The caption around the medallion of Mother and Child states this with the following words: “In the mother’s womb is seated the wisdom of the Father."

The lemma points out that “wisdom has built her house; she has set up her seven columns” (Proverbs 9:1). What are those columns personified by the seven feminine figures? It seems difficult to formulate a stringent answer. The artist may have intended to represent knowledge and wisdom. Thus the seven figures would be those of the liberal arts, of Trivium and Quadrivium. Another explanation seems to favor the seven virtues (theological and cardinal virtues) or the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-2).

Leuven, Flanders, Pieterskerk

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