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The Seven Virtues were derived from the Psychomachia ('Contest of the Soul'), an epic poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. 410 CE) 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 alleged 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. There are two distinct variations of the virtues, recognized by different groups.
Ranked in ascending order of sanctity, the seven holy virtues are:
Chastity (Latin, Castitas) (purity, opposes Lust, Latin Luxuria) —Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of body and thought through education and betterment.
Temperance (Latin, Frenum) (self-control, opposes Gluttony, Latin Gula) —Practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation.
Charity (Latin, Liberalitas) (will, generosity, opposes Greed, Latin Avaritia) —Generosity. Willingness to give. A nobility of thought or actions.
Diligence (Latin, Industria) (ethics, opposes Sloth, Latin 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.
Patience (Latin, Patientia) (peace, opposes Wrath, Latin 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 (Latin, Humanitas) (satisfaction, opposes Envy, Latin Invidia) —Charity, compassion, friendship, and sympathy without prejudice and for its own sake.
Humility (Latin, Humilitas) (modesty, opposes Pride, Latin Superbia) —Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one's own self.
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
Roman Catholic Virtues
The Roman Catholic church recognized the seven capital virtues as opposites to the Seven Capital Sins or the Seven Deadly Sins. According to Dante's The Divine Comedy the sins and their respective virtues have an ordering based upon their importance.
Lust (excessive sexual appetites)