Theological virtues

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Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld : Faith, Love, Hope
Allegorical representation of faith, love and hope , Wilhelm Aarland (before 1905)

The theological virtues , including divine virtues , Christian virtues or infused virtues , are faith , love and hope . In contrast to the ten commandments , these three virtues are not specific rules for action, but attitudes or inner attitudes demanded by Christians. They are complemented by the four cardinal virtues adopted from ancient philosophy, wisdom , justice , bravery and temperance .

In contrast to the human virtues, the divine virtues are said to be “poured” by God into the soul of believers. The human virtues are rooted in the divine.

Virtue is part of spiritual growth:

“Therefore, make every effort to combine virtue with your faith, knowledge with virtue, self-control with knowledge, perseverance with self-control, piety with perseverance , brotherhood with piety and love with brotherhood . If all of this is present with you and grows, then it takes away your indolence and sterility, so that you know Jesus Christ, our Lord, ever more deeply. "

- 2 Petr 1.5–8  EU

The traditional canon of the seven virtues goes back to Pope Gregory the Great (540-604), in which the three divine virtues faith (fides), love (caritas) and hope (spes) the ancient Platonic cardinal virtues prudentia , justice (iustitia) ) , Valor (fortitudo) and moderation (temperantia) .


Representation of the Christian virtues at the Chapel of Grace, Himmerod Monastery . The earliest mention is found in 1 Thess 1,3  EU , the best known, however, in 1 Corinthians : “For now, faith, hope, love remain these three; but the greatest of them is love ”( 1 Cor 13:13  EU ). Love is symbolized by the Immaculate Heart of Mary .

These virtues are also mentioned in the Clausulae at the beginning of the Rosary : "Jesus, who increases our faith, ... who strengthens our hope, ... who ignites love in us."

Pope Benedict XVI wrote the encyclicals Deus caritas est and Spe salvi on the divine virtues love and hope . The encyclical Lumen fidei on faith, which began before he resigned from office, was completed by Pope Francis .


  • Faith (fides): Symbolized by the cross or a chalice with a host .
  • Love (caritas): Is represented in iconography by a heart or by a woman with children.
  • Hope (spes): Is symbolized by an anchor, bird or branch.

According to tradition the noble Christian widow distributed Sophia the Martyr their possessions to the poor and traveled with her daughters faith, hope and charity , three consecrated virgins , from Milan to Rome , where they in the persecution of Christians under Hadrian the martyrdom suffered.

Belletristic reception

Ödön von Horváth deals with this topic in his piece Faith, Love, Hope - A Little Dance of Death in five pictures .

In the song cycle Winterreise, Wilhelm Müller refers to the theological virtues in the 23rd song (“Die Nebensonnen”).

See also


Web links

Commons : Christian Virtue  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Josef Pieper : Works. Vol. 7: Religious-philosophical writings. ed. by Berthold Wald . About the Christian image of man. Felix Meiner Verlag, Munich 2000, pp. 111–112, 411.
  2. ^ Stefan Grotefeld, Matthias Neugebauer, Jean-Daniel Strub, Johannes Fischer (eds.): Source texts of theological ethics, From the old church to the present. W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, p. 81.
  3. Gotteslob, Catholic prayer and hymn book, ed. from the bishops of Germany and Austria and the dioceses of Bozen-Brixen and Lüttich, Catholic Bible Institute, Stuttgart 1974, no.33.