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Seat of Wisdom

Among theologically evocative titles bestowed on the Blessed Virgin Mary over the centuries is the striking designation of Sedes Sapientiae or Latin for Seat of Wisdom. But what profound Biblical meanings might undergird this phrase applied to the Mother of God?

The appellation Seat of Wisdom appears across artistic genres celebrating Mary whether in Gothic cathedral stone, Renaissance canvases, Baroque oratories or modern icons. Oftentimes she is depicted enthroned regally while tenderly holding the Christ Child - the Incarnate Word who proclaimed Himself to be “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  


Scriptural foundations for this expression originate in the Old Testament wisdom literature in Proverbs, Sirach, and Wisdom of Solomon, that explore the cosmic nature of divine reason and understanding personified as a heavenly feminine entity present from Creation and mediating God’s will to mankind. 

In Proverbs 4, 8 and 9, Lady Wisdom is described as calling out mystically to the simple, offering prudence to the young, giving sight to the naïve and knowledge to the unlearned. She abundantly bestows insight from her eternal storehouses as the first created by God and playing joyfully before Him always. 

For Christianity, Mary as Seat of Wisdom represents the localization of the infinite God compressed onto the lap of a young Nazarene maiden. Thus early Christian thinkers like St. Sophronius hailed her as, “the vessel elect of true Wisdom” and St. John Damascene declared Mary is, “the treasure house of all good things, the cause and root and pigment of our salvation.” 

To this day, Byzantine icons of the Platytera, or God-bearer, depict Mary as the Seat of Wisdom by framing her torso as a throne upon which the Christ Child sits enthroned as diminutive Pantocrator and King of Kings. Artistically encapsulated here is the Incarnation’s paradox: she who bore God now liturgically bears up God in this reciprocal exchange of essence and office through pure holy deference to the Divine Will.   

So biblically and theologically, Mary as Seat of Wisdom expresses God’s definitive Revelation localized completely in her obedient flesh. Like the Proverbs say: “Wisdom cries aloud...Whoever finds me finds life.”  

Thus across the ages resounds the invitation to discover through Mary the Incarnate rationale of all meaning. She remains the accessible Seat reserved for Wisdom’s banquet, from whence Jesus distributes the bread and wine of eternity saying -  Venite, comedite panem meum! Come, eat and drink from Wisdom’s table!

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