Virgo Prudentissima
Virgin Most Prudent

Mary, an autonomous figure with arms outstretched in a noble gesture of openness and invitation, presents the double characteristics of virgin (Immaculate Conception highlighted by the twelve stars around her head), and mother (her womb bears the Christ monogram).  Her figure is surrounded with a perfect circle symbolizing perfection of human knowledge and behavior.  It is decorated with symbols of science (compass, square, globe, and telescope), and with cameos showing animal allegories of prudence:

  • snake: be prudent like the snake
  • ant: go and learn wisdom from the ant    (Proverbs 6)
  • rooster: and what do you think from whom the rooster received his intelligence? (Job 33)

There is a cameo between the representation of Mary and the illustration from the parable of the wise or prudent virgins who put oil in their lamps (Matthew 25).  It bears the head of Janus (here a crowned head with a feminine and a masculine face), symbol of prudence, taking into account beginning and end, past and future of human life and endeavor.

"Mary is hailed as the woman who was most prudent" (cf. 1 Kings 25:3 re: Abigail).

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