Visio Divina

by Beth A Richardson on August 15, 2012 · 46 comments

Painted Background

Visio divina invites the viewer into “divine seeing.” Visio divina shares roots with the ancient practice of lectio divina. (Lectio divina calls for a slow, careful interaction with scripture through meditation and prayer, allowing a word or phrase to rise in one’s consciousness, a holy word to be savored and examined.) Similarly, visio divina invites one to encounter the divine through images. A prayerful consideration of and interaction with a photograph in the magazine, icon, piece of art, or other visual representation allows the viewer to experience the divine in a unique and powerful way.

Visio divina can be practiced individually or with a group in a small group or worship setting by using a piece of art as a focal point for prayer. Scripture can also be paired with the image in order for the viewer to reflect on the scripture through the art.

Try Visio Divina

  1. Pick out an image from pages of Alive Now, a photograph, painting, or icon.
  2. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
  3. Now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so.
  4. Consider the following questions:
    • What emotions does this image evoke in you?
    • What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?
    • Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
  5. Now, offer your prayers to God in a final time of silence.

More on the practices of lectio divina. Click here.

Art Credit: iStockphoto / ThinkStock

Julett M. Broadnax September 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I sat with this picture – on first glance it just seemed a jumble, but eventually settled on a nun like figure to the far right and bottom of the blue part. Then I saw a face in the blue part – and it became me in a womb. I was looking toward the vast space outside the womb – filled with a fiery color. My feeling was of holding back safely in the womb, waiting for rebirth into what to me is a vast unknown.
That is exactly what I am feeling right now – that I am gestating in a womb before I am transformed into another vibrant area of my life – completely unknown and unknowable to me right now. It is like I have to gird up for the journey ahead – and not emerge until I feel completely secure and serene in that next step. Thank you for this visio meditation.

Beth Richardson September 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm


All I can say is WOW! Thank you for sharing your process. Very powerful.

Prayers for you in this time of transformation. Thank you for sharing.


Kerry February 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Would love to know the source of the artwork.

Beth Richardson February 22, 2014 at 8:39 am

Kerry, I wish we knew more about the art. We got the photo from Thinkstock. Don’t know the story behind it …

Blessings — and thanks for taking the time to ask.


Jude Weerstra June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

I also saw the nun but in front of her was a demon and she had to overcome. Spot on.

Brinda LeBleu November 18, 2015 at 8:26 am

I did not read the other responses as I did not want them to influence what I was seeing. I will read them after I submit mine. I first noticed the white piece in the upper left area. At first I thought I saw one eye, but then two eyes. It appeared to be looking over something black which I reflected as the dark parts of my life. I then noticed there was more white in the picture than dark. Even some of the white seemed to have eyes looking out for me. The dark piece could be moving past me. Whatever it does, I am surrounded by caring folks. I am facing another diagnosis of ALS in December and found this piece of art comforting to know the dark is below me and I can see beyond it, surrounded by a God who has placed folks in my life to sustain me through this time. I have always found God not only speaks through words, but also speaks through pictures. I am glad I now know what to call it. Visio Divina. Thanks for sharing this great resource! Brinda

Carol Jernigan November 20, 2015 at 6:40 am

Today I see the reflection of a fiery tree and brilliant autumn sky in the still waters of a a quiet reservoir. Wind, rocks and water currents have distorted the image into a kaleidoscope of colors. The sense of light, color and movement are distractions to the quiet still waters that lie beneath.My soul rests. December 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm

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