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History: Prudence

In the panel depicting prudence we have a lovely scene of five wise virgins described by St. Matthew in chapter twenty-five of his Gospel, wherein the parable of the ten virgins shows five foolish and five wise. The latter, more prudent than the former improvident virgins, filled their lamps with oil, while awaiting the coming of the Master. The parable is often used as an example of those who enter religious life in answer to the divine call, but the parabolic form of teaching as it is conveyed in this gospel usually has a more widespread application, and exemplifies herein those souls who diligently prepare for eternal life by vigilantly awaiting their call. Holding their lamps burning in their hands, as the wise virgins are doing, and carrying a vial, the symbol of charity and of prayer, wherewith to replenish their lamps with oil, they receive the graces necessary for their journey through this life because of their continuance in prayer and good works.

The scene depicted in the mural shows the arrival of the Master during the night, and the call of the maidens to enter the heavenly kingdom because their lamps were kept burning and there was no delay in opening the doors immediately when He. came, for the virgins were faithful in the service of God. Besides being full of religious significance, graceful and finished, the picture holds the ethereal charm of young maidenhood enhanced by the delicacy of an exotic, moonlit night. Simple, reticent, sensitively precise, yet graphic and illuminated, the figures are set against an exquisite background. The details are so interwoven as to create an impression of intense spiritual beauty, interpenetrated by a fresh, vivid out-door tone, with contrasting notes so graciously and serenely mingled as to imply a feeling of expectation of the beauty that is beyond and subsequent to the scene before us.

 


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