Today is, of course, the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is also – as it is 8 June – the Feast Our Lady, Sedes Sapientiae… Seat of Wisdom.
Seat of Wisdom is an ancient title of the Blessed Mother. Christ is Incarnate Wisdom. She herself is, of all wise virgins, the wisest.
In sacred art you will find Mary protrayed as the Seat of Wisdom: she is seated upon a throne and her lap forms the throne or seat for her Son.
One of my favorite depictions of Sedes Sapientiae is in the Met in NYC: in limestone, polychrome and gilding, c. 1415-17, Poligny, Burgundy.
The inscription on the side from Ecclesiastes 24 reads: “Ab initio et ante saecula creata sum, et usque ad futurum saeculum non desinam: et in habitatione sancta coram ipso ministravi….From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.”
One of the things I like about this is the tender exchange here between Mary and Christ. In this version He is not portrayed as a spiritualized homunculus.
Who is teaching Whom?
Another at the Met is French, 1157-1200 in wood and paint.
Mary’s large hands draw attention to her Son, who would be holding a book. Christ is depicted as a small adult: the aforementioned homunculus.
In any event, there are many versions. Sometimes, He will have a book and at other times, His hand or hands may be outstretched. Another variation gives Him an orb, etc., and she will be the throne of His Majesty.
John Paul II concluded his Fides et ratio with a prayer to Mary, Seat of Wisdom, saying:
May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.