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In Catholic catechism, the seven virtues refers to one of two lists of virtues, most commonly referring to the 4 Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Restraint or Temperance, and Courage or Fortitude, and the 3 Theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love or Charity; these were adopted by the Church Fathers from virtue as defined by the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.

An alternative list is the Seven heavenly virtues, opposed to the Seven deadly sins, and consisting of Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.

Seven heavenly virtues

There is another list of the seven virtues to oppose the seven deadly sins. The "Seven heavenly virtues" were derived from the Psychomachia ("Contest of the Soul"), an epic poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. AD 410) entailing the battle of good virtues and evil vices. The intense popularity of this work in the Middle Ages helped to spread the concept of holy virtue throughout Europe. Practicing these virtues is considered to protect one against temptation from the seven deadly sins, with each one having its counterpart. Due to this they are sometimes referred to as the contrary virtues. Each of the seven heavenly virtues matches a corresponding deadly sin.

Virtue Latin Gloss (Vice) (Latin) Virtue's Meaning
Chastity Castitas Purity Lust Luxuria Abstaining from sexual conduct according to one's state in life. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment.
Temperance Temperantia Self-Control Gluttony Gula Constant mindfulness of others and one's surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
Charity Caritas Will, Generosity Greed Avaritia Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
Diligence Industria Persistence, Effort Sloth Acedia


A zealous and careful nature in one's actions and work. Decisive work ethic. Budgeting one's time; monitoring one's own activities to guard against laziness.(The Vice "Acedia" is more commonly known as "Sloth")
Patience Patientia Peace Wrath Ira Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Resolving conflicts peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. The ability to forgive; to show mercy to sinners.
Kindness Humanitas Satisfaction Envy Invidia Charity, compassion, friendship, and empathy without prejudice and for its own sake.
Humility Humilitas Bravery, Modesty Pride Superbia Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.

The Eighth Virtue

A catalogue of eight virtues includes the preceding seven heavenly virtues but also adds Justice as an eighth virtue:

Virtue Latin Gloss (Vice) (Latin) Virtue's Meaning
Justice Iustitia Fairness, Equity (law) Corruption Venaliter Honesty, and the giving of righteousness. Being fair or telling the truth. Doing what is right and not what is wrong. It is the light of truth that conquers the dark of the wrong. Equity (law), impartiality.


Restraint is the keystone of the seven holy virtues. The other holy virtues are created through selfless pursuits:

  • Valour: Pursuit of Courage and Knowledge
  • Generosity: Pursuit of Giving
  • Liberality: Pursuit of Will
  • Diligence: Pursuit of Ethics
  • Patience: Pursuit of Peace
  • Kindness: Pursuit of Charity
  • Humility: Pursuit of Modesty

See also

  • Knightly Virtues
  • Seven Deadly Sins

External links

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