St Mary’s College, Oscott, takes ‘Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom’ as its patron – why? We celebrate her feast day this Tuesday September 27th, and in preparation for that Fr Paul Keane, the Vice Rector, gives this short reflection on this title of Mary.
Every Epiphany we hear: ‘they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him’ (Matthew 2.11). The wise men, as ever, were looking for wisdom and now they had found Him, for as St Paul said, ‘Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1.24). Imagining that moment in Bethlehem, artists have always depicted the young Christ as sat upon Mary’s lap or, rather, enthroned: Mary is the Seat of Wisdom. Such a moment had been prefigured. In the Old Testament, the wise man was Solomon and his throne was thought to be uniquely worthy of description (2 Chronicles 9.17-19). And so it was natural for the medieval hymn writer, Adam of St Victor, to sing of Mary: ‘You are the throne of Solomon.’
The devotion at Oscott to Our Lady is real and important. As the one who bore Our Lord, was His first disciple and helps us in our prayers, we know that she is worthy of our love. She also brings us closer to Christ, our Wisdom, for, as Odo, an abbot of Battle Abbey, wrote: ‘Whoever desires to have this wisdom must direct his study towards the Mother, for in Mary must he study who is to find Christ. For through Mary we come to Christ as through a mother to a son, through the Mother of mercy to Mercy himself.’
As you enter our Chapel, you look directly upon a statue of Christ enthroned on Mary’s lap: the Seat of Wisdom. And our response is the only sensible one: a time of worship before it. Because we seek to be the Wise Men of today, knowing that we shall always find Christ through His mother.