The virtue of prudence traditionally has been depicted by a figure of a teacher, denoting wisdom. Here, prudence is interpreted as the wisdom to make the right choices in life. The main symbol in "Prudence" is a large, scaly dragon. To Asian cultures, the dragon represents wisdom and supernatural powers. A woman with an academic gown stands calmly before it. She carries the book, "Sapienza," which means "knowledge" in Italian. In its mighty claw the dragon clutches a diploma. The woman is not frightened by this vision; instead, she gestures toward it, offering peace. On the other side of the great beast are the pink glimmering arches that represent passage to a more enlightened, successful life. Close examination of the two figures shows that the woman and the dragon are actually in identical poses; they mirror each other. Sometimes our greatest inhibitions are within ourselves. We must confront these weaknesses. Thus, as Socrates said, "Know thyself."
On Oct. 20, 1994, an open house was held to celebrate the completion of the Frescoes of St. Thomas. Seven community members were invited to comment about what each panel meant to him or her, personally.
Brother Michael Collins, F.S.C., president of De La Salle High School, Minneapolis, spoke on the "Prudence" panel: "In the previous reading (see description above), Prudence is referred to as the wisdom to make the right choices in life. As I reflected on that statement, I was reminded of the the choice I made nearly 40 years ago to dedicate my life to the Catholic education of young people. And even though from time to time I have weighed the wisdom of that choice against other choices I might have made, I have continued to continue. I do so, to a great extent, because young people today are also faced with many different choices – possibly more than at any time in the history of human kind. "However, for today's youth to acquire the wisdom to make the best choices in life, every adult person in our community must discover how he or she can best contribute to that endeavor. For that reason, I continue to discover anew the vitally important contribution education can make to young people's lives, and I continue to believe, moreover, that the subsequent quality of all of our lives depends – in great measure – on the quality of that education we provide."