The Seven Virtues decorate the foyer of the St. Therese Parish Center in Sugar Land, Texas. They are made of cast plaster, measuring 13 inches square. This project was completed in 2009 in collaboration with Duncan G. Stroik Architect, LLC.
Prudence, sometimes referred to as Wisdom, is the capability of exercising sound judgment. In this metope, Prudence is represented as a serpent coiled around a mirror. The mirror symbolizes self-knowledge and recalls the inscription above the entrance to the ancient temple of Delphi, “Know thy self.” The serpent refers to the words of Christ as he sends His apostles out into the world, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as prudent as serpents and yet innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Scales and a sword represent Justice, the virtue that requires “giving to each his due.” The scale symbolically weighs truth against falsehood, while the sword righteously fends off and punishes evil. Justice, the prime Cardinal Virtue, depends on the development of prudence, temperance, and fortitude, the same requirements to be a good judge.
The metope of Hope portrays an anchor and drapery. This allegory has been adopted from the scripture, “Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which enters in even within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:19) The Virtue of Hope allows a Christian to cling to truth in a tangible way, like an anchor, even when the truth is shrouded in mystery, behind a veil.
The metope of Charity is placed in the central position within the series to emphasize its importance as the defining attribute of God: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16) Charity is depicted as a flaming heart, a representation of the intensity of God’s love for mankind and recalling the bush that burns, but is not consumed, described by Moses in the Old Testament.
Faith is represented in the metope by a book conveying the Word of God and a Cross, the instrument of Jesus Christ's Passion, as well as the sign of our salvation, “for you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 4: 26-28) The development of the virtue of faith depends on both the discipleship learned from hearing the Word of God and the witness gained from contemplation of the Cross.
Fortitude, the virtue of physical or spiritual strength, is required to overcome obstacles and endure great hardship. The metope of Fortitude depicts the virtue with the “jawbone of an ass” and two columns, both attributes that recall Samson, the Old Testament hero known for his deeds of bravery and strength.
Temperance is represented by a stream of water being poured from a pitcher into a chalice of wine because temperance is the virtue of self-control, and is governed by Prudence. The metope represents the ancient Greek custom of “tempering,” or diluting wine with water, in order to achieve an “equal measure,” the requirement for temperate drinking. The depiction of water being poured forth also reminds us of the first miracle performed by Jesus at the wedding in Cana.
The virtues, depicted on metopes, are built into the doric entablature in the foyer of St. Therese Parish Center.