Visio Divina

Andrei Rublev, Trinity

What is it?

Visio Divina is a way of drawing closer to God through meditation on visual objects. Visio Divina is Latin for “divine seeing.” 

How did Visio Divina begin?

Although the name is new, different elements date back to ancient times. For centuries people have been visually contemplating  images that draw them closer to God in many different religious traditions. Think of the sacred designs of Hindus and Buddhists called mandalas, religious statues created by the Greek and African religions, the sacred designs of Islamic cultures and icons of Orthodox Christians.  In Europe medieval and more modern religious paintings were created to bring the viewer closer to the divine.

How is it related to Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina or Divine Reading is an ancient practice from the Benedictine Tradition. This usually focusses us on scripture. Through stages of prayerful attentiveness to the reading, the listener comes closer to God In recent years some spiritual writers have connected the structure and intent of Lectio Divina to the long history of spiritual images.   

What has Visio Divina to do with prayer?

Prayer can be seen as both communicating withGod and being with God.Visio Divina can lead us into deeper communion with God by inviting us into prayerful presence where we can rest in God’s presence. Unlike petitionary prayer, we are not looking for anything. 

How does it work?

Here is one method. Look at the resources for others.

  1. Look at the image and gaze at it for a minute or so. What strikes you? What emotions does it convey? 
  2. How do you see or feel the sacred in this image?
  3. Explore the context of this image through readings, video or a group leader.
  4. How does this image lead you closer to God?
  5. Reflect on this experience in whatever manner is beneficial to you. (e.g. conversation, journal, artistic response, homily, lesson plan)

How can Visio Divina promote faith development?

Visio divina is related to the sacramental principle that permeates Catholicism. Sacrametality tells us that God’s grace extends through creation and humanity’s creative responses. Visio Divina prmotes the practice of seeing the divine all around us. We can see this throuh practicing Visio Divina in several stages:

  1. Visio Divina of sacred art.
  2. Visio Divina of parts of your Church.
  3. Visio Divina of secular art.
  4. Visio Divina of photographs of creation.
  5. Visio Divina of any visual media.
  6. Visio Divina of any aspect of life.
  7. Visio Divina of my ministry

What are some art works that can be used for Visio Divina?


Rembrandt Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Other Visio Divina Resources are found on

Using Visio Divina in Canadian Religious Education Textbooks.

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