Who We Are
Inviting seekers of wisdom into conversation and contemplation
Located in the picturesque Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, Wisdom House is an interfaith retreat and conference center presenting programs in spirituality, wellness, the arts, and ecology, and offering hospitality to academic, civic, nonprofit, and business organizations. We are committed to sustainability, justice, and welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs.
OUR FARMHOUSE dates back to 1770
Nestled in the Litchfield Hills, Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center invites you to an experience of peace and tranquility. This former college and convent for the community of Catholic sisters, the Daughters of Wisdom, continues to provide an environment conducive to reflection and creative expression, now welcoming all those who value seeking and learning in a contemplative environment. Truly interfaith, Wisdom House honors faith traditions from around the world and those who remain unaffiliated with a specific tradition.
This property, originally known as Spruce Brook Farm, was purchased in 1949 by the Daughters of Wisdom from the family of Margaret and Frederick Busk. The Busk family estate became a convent and novitiate for the Daughters of Wisdom, and was named Mary Immaculate Novitiate. In 1960, the center also housed Seat of Wisdom College and in 1967, the center began its transition into an interfaith retreat center with the presence hosting a Buddhist retreat.
Several buildings sit on our beautiful 70 acres. The Farm House dates to 1770 while the barn, now an open and airy meeting room, was built circa 1925. There is a carriage house and an in-ground swimming pool. All of these spaces have stunning views of the meadows and forests that are part of the Wisdom House campus. Over the years, we’ve renovated many of our spaces, providing additional guest accommodations and meeting spaces, an inclusive worship space in the chapel, as well as an art gallery. We’ve also improved and expanded our outdoor spaces of contemplation and renewal, such as our labyrinth, Peace Garden, shrine areas, and Medieval Mary Garden. Our care of creation values are expressed throughout the campus, including solar panels that help offset our power consumption.
The Wisdom House logo expresses the mission of the center which is one of hospitality with roots in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and the spirit of the Daughters of Wisdom. The triangle symbolizes divinity; the pitcher and bread represent the nourishment of Divine Wisdom which Wisdom House offers for body and soul. (Hebrew Scriptures, Book of Proverbs, 9: 1-6).
Wisdom House values its location in the historic town of Litchfield, incorporated in 1719. The town provides historic cultural resources to all who visit this area.
Supporting Sustainable Environments
The ancients knew that Wisdom was found in nature and creation
Reverence and care for nature and the cosmos are core to living spiritually and in respectful relationship to the community of all creation. With the arrival of the Daughters of Wisdom in 1949, the commitment to simple living furthered the ancient tradition of caring for the land and its natural resources. Since 1990, several contemporary environmental initiatives that give expression to our belief that Wisdom permeates all reality have taken place at Wisdom House.
Wisdom House is committed to environmental sustainability through such practices as water and energy conservation, waste management, and the conservation and improvement of wildlife habitats. In accordance with these practices, supports a pollinator friendly native plant landscape that benefits the larger ecosystem within the broader context of a conservation ethics.
Daughters of Wisdom
The Daughters of Wisdom trace their beginnings to 18th century France
Founded by Saint Louis de Montfort and Blessed Marie Louise Trichet, the aim of the Daughters of Wisdom congregation was to seek Divine Wisdom.
Over the centuries, the Daughters of Wisdom spread to other lands. Today, nearly 2,000 sisters in twenty-one countries seek Divine Wisdom in suffering humanity. They do this through lives of prayer and service, living a spirituality rooted in the Bible, especially in the Books of Wisdom and Proverbs. This spirituality was further developed in the book, The Love of Eternal Wisdom by Saint Louis de Montfort.
The work of the Daughters of Wisdom has occasionally brought them to martyrdom, for example, at the guillotine in the French Revolution and in Africa in the 1964 Congo massacre. In the Congo, American Daughter of Wisdom, Sister Mary Antoinette (Anne Donniacuo) was killed. Her icon, written by Rev. William Hart McNichols, SJ, is enthroned in the chapel at Wisdom House.
Sister Mary Antoinette
20th Century Martyr
A martyr is a person who witnesses to the faith which motivates his or her life. Sister Mary Antoinette was a member of the community of nuns called the Daughters of Wisdom. At the age of 52, she died a martyr's death in the Congo, Africa, in 1964.
While she was serving in the Congo, surrounded by government turmoil, she wrote: "God alone knows what will be the end of all this chaos." Sensing death imminent, she told the sisters around her, "This time the trip will be to heaven."
The icon of Sister Mary Antoinette, DW, was enthroned in the chapel of Wisdom House on October 27, 2002. The icon was written by Rev. William Hart McNichols, SJ.
In this icon, Sister Mary Antoinette is visited by Wisdom, in the traditional form with wings of the Spirit, bearing the blood-red cross, with her hand laid on Mary Antoinette's forehead in blessing, strengthening and imparting the gifts of the Word, the shared grace of martyrdom for the truth of the gospel. The background is that of Isangi, Congo, where Mary Antoinette was working in a school, orphanage and hospital from 1961 until her death in 1964. In this icon, she grasps her profession and mission cross with her own hands crossed, her right hand raised in prayer and receptivity. Her eye are wide open and her face serene. She is dressed in her community's missionary habit.
Reprinted with permission: Christ All Merciful. Megan McKenna and Wm. Hart McNichols, SJ, 2002, Orbis Books