Wheel of Sevens

A medieval device for training the soul in prayer.

London, British Library, Arundel 83, fol. 129v

This wheel contains seven rings, one depending on the other.
Through the first the second is gained; through the second the third, and so with the others by reading between each pair of radii. 

The first ring of this wheel contains the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer.
The second ring contains the seven sacraments of the Church.
The third ring contains the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The fourth ring contains the seven spiritual weapons of the virtues.
The fifth ring contains the seven corporeal and spiritual works of mercy.
The sixth ring contains the seven principal virtues.
The seventh ring contains the seven criminal vices.

Begin to read at the P and complete the readings that are contained between each two radii.

1. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Here we pray to become sons of God the Father. Through this is given baptism in recognition of the Son of God. And the spirit of wisdom in reverence of the Trinity. And the breastplate of humility against pride. Thus we clothe the naked in the flesh and comfort the needy in spirit. Thus we gain prudence and avoid pride.

2. Thy kingdom come. Here we pray to become coheirs by fire. Through this is given holy orders for working the rites. And the spirit of understanding in desire for the kingdom. And the helmet of generosity against greed. Thus we feed the hungry in the flesh and reprove the dissolute in spirit. Thus we gain fortitude and avoid greed.

3. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Here we pray to obey God. Through this is given marriage for avoiding fornication. And the spirit of counsel for cultivating obedience. And the shield of compassion against envy. Thus we give drink to the thirsty in the flesh and instruct the unlearned in spirit. Thus we gain justice and avoid envy.

4. Give us this day our daily bread. Here we pray to be sustained by the bread of life. Through this is given the eucharist in memory of the Son of God. And the spirit of fortitude for strengthening the true faith. And the sword of patience against anger. Thus we visit the sick in the flesh and make peace among those discordant in spirit. Thus we gain temperance and avoid anger. 

5. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Here we pray to be absolved from sins. Through this is given penance for the remission of sins. And the spirit of knowledge for fleeing sins. And the boots of swiftness against sloth. Thus we gain release for captives in the flesh and console the desolate in spirit. Thus we gain faith and avoid sloth.

6. And lead us not into temptation. Here we pray to be strengthened in hope. Through this is given confirmation for certitude in hope. And the spirit of piety for persevering in hope. And the spear of sobriety against gluttony. Thus we shelter pilgrims in the flesh and indulge those seeking in spirit. Thus we gain hope and avoid gluttony. 

7. But deliver us from evil. Here we pray to be saved. Through this is given anointing to the certain way of salvation. And the spirit of the fear of the Lord for the fear of judgment. And the belt of chastity against lust. Thus we bury the dead in the flesh and pray for enemies in spirit. Thus we gain chastity and avoid lust. 

New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS 416, fol. 2v

London, British Library, Arundel 83, fol. 3v

Reference: Lucy Freeman Sandler, The Psalter of Robert de Lisle in the British Library (London: Harvey Miller, 1983).


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