Religious Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God

Religious Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God

The reflection of Christ with Divine Wisdom has a strong representation in the iconography of the Orthodox Church. The religious icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God is often interpreted as the Theotokos type of icons because in Russian Orthodox mysticism, Sophia is indistinguishable from the Virgin and is even considered the “fourth person of the Trinity.” There is a number of icon variations depicting Sophia, the Wisdom of God in the Russian Church, but all of them convey the main idea of Wisdom as the representation of the Son of God.

The description of the religious icon

The central figure of the icon is the All-Powerful God in the form of an Angel with a face of fire and wings, who sits on a golden throne supported by 7 pillars. There is often a temple or a house in the icon, with a standing figure of the Mother of God dressed in a veil and a robe. She is depicted with her right hand in a blessing gesture, holding the Christ Child with her left hand. There is an inscription on the canopy’s cornice, Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. Right above the canopy, there is the Holy Spirit depicted in rays of light. The religious icon also features the figures of seven Archangels standing on both sides of God the Father and the Holy Spirit and holding the symbols of their duties.

The symbolism of the icon

The religious icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God has a rich visual symbolism. One of the symbols, which appears in some of the icon variations, is a staircase with seven steps. They represent the Church of God on earth, and those standing on the steps are considered the witnesses of the manifestation of Wisdom. Moreover, on each of the steps, there is a word: faith, hope, purity, love, goodness, humility, and glory. Under the feet of Sophia, there is a stone representing a symbol of all Creation being subdued to God.

However, the key symbol that encloses the main idea of the icon is kept in the word “house” of the quotation in the Book of Proverbs. This word alludes to the most holy Virgin who contributed to the incarnation of God. The iconography of Sophia, the Wisdom of God is based on these holy words. Thus, this religious icon, without a doubt, occupies a very special place in the entire Russian Orthodox Church.