Collection: Holy Wisdom

ARTIST: Br. Robert Lentz, OFM


Wisdom has built her house,
She has set up her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids to call
From the highest places in town,
"Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"
To him who is without sense she says:
"Come eat of my bread,
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave simpleness, and live,
And walk in the way of insight."
(Proverbs 9: 1-6)

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Holy Wisdom, also called Divine Wisdom (Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, Hagia Sophia) is the theological idea that perfect Wisdom is to be found in God alone.

The word and concept of Sophia ("wisdom") is expressed in both the Old Testament, as notably in the Septuagint version, and of the New Testament.

In the New Testament wisdom is presented in three meanings:

In the usual broad meaning of wisdom as understanding: "''Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace''" (Luke 2:52); "''But wisdom is justified of all her children''" (Luke 7:35).

In the meaning of the wise economy of God expressed in the creation of the world, in His Providence over the world, and in the salvation of the world from sin: "''O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counselor?''" (Romans 11:33-34). "''We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory''" (1 Cor. 2:7).

In relation to the Son of God as the Hypostatic Wisdom of God: "''But we preach Christ crucified ... Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God''" (1 Cor. 1:23-24); "''Who of God is made unto us wisdom''" (1 Cor. 1:30).

These themes are a continuation of those expressed in the the Books of Proverbs and the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament: the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Joshua, and the Son of Sirach.

In the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos who became incarnate as Jesus Christ. In the Holy Family, Sophia is often seen as being represented by the Theotokos. Sophia is expressed as the Holy Wisdom of God and the saints, obtained through humility, and in Mary, the Theotokos, the first and greatest of all saints. In Orthodoxy, humility is the highest wisdom and is to be sought more than any other virtue. It is humility that cultivates not only the Holy Wisdom, but humility (in contrast to knowledge) is the defining quality that grants people salvation and entrance into Heaven.

In the liturgy of the Orthodox Church, the exclamation Sophia! or in English Wisdom! is proclaimed by the deacon or priest at certain moments during the service, especially before readings of scripture, to draw the congregation's attention to sacred teaching.