In Your Midst

Image of the Divine

August 2008

Sedes Sapientiae - Seat of Wisdom

Sedes Sapientiae, Seat of Wisdom

At the center of the Archbishop Murphy Courtyard on the south side of the Cathedral is the statue of Sedes Sapientiae—Mary, Seat of Wisdom.  Mary has many titles—she is called “seat” or “throne” of wisdom because she holds Jesus, the Word made flesh, in her arms.  For many years, this beloved image of Mary and her Son stood on the grounds of the Archdiocesan Seminary, St. Edward’s in Kenmore.  Every May, the seminarians would gather in front of this statue at the end of the day to sing a hymn in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  To the intercession of Mary, cradling God’s own divine Wisdom, the seminarians entrusted all the hopes and struggles of their day.

            After St. Edward’s Seminary closed in 1977, the statue was brought to St. James Cathedral.  In 2006, the creation of the Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Courtyard provided a beautiful setting for the well-loved image.  Water flows from a hand-hewn source stone on the south side of the Cathedral, and gathers in a pool at Mary’s feet.  In the evening, the statue is gently illuminated, a reminder that Christ is the light of the world.  He is the living water that alone can quench our thirst.

            Long ago, St. Ephrem the Syrian imagined what Mary whispered to the child Jesus, asleep on her breast:  “My Master, give yourself to me for me to embrace you… I don’t know how to explain that you are silent, when I know all thunder resounds in you. You have been born of me like a little one; but you are as strong as a giant. Here, all of You is with me, and nevertheless you are totally hidden in your father… You are with me, and all the angelic choirs adore you. While I cradle you within my arms, you are carried by the cherubim.”


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