Introduction to Legends and Sermons - 504 

scribed the rapture and ecstasy of Francis, and recounted that vision and appearance of the Seraph more brilliantly than the rest.45

Undoubtedly, it was that mystical dimension of Bonaventure's work that made it such a reservoir of spirituality to the second generation of Francis's followers. As the spiritual climate changed at the end of the thirteenth century, so did the appeal of Bonaventure's portrait.

The final judgment of the scope of his portrait, however, is best left to Bonaventure himself. At the conclusion of his Soul's Journey into God, he wrote:

. . . In a transport of contemplation on the mountain height, there appeared to Blessed Francis the six-winged Seraph fastened to a cross, as I and many others have heard from the companion who was then with him at that very place. Here he passed over into God in a transport of contemplation. He is set forth as an example of perfect contemplation, just as previously he had been of action, like a second Jacob-Israel. And thus, through him, more by example than by word, God would invite all truly spiritual persons to this passing over and this transport of soul.46

Later Writings

Bonaventure was to dedicate four more sermons to Saint Francis, all of which he preached to his brothers at the University of Paris. All of these, the sermon of October 4, 1266, that commemorating the transferral of Francis's body to the new basilica built in Assisi in his honor, that is, the sermon of May 27, 1267, and the morning and evening sermons of October 4, 1267, seem to be outlines. The first of these, in particular, is quite brief and proceeds in an orderly fashion, numbering each point that it might easily be remembered. Although it is somewhat longer, the same manner of presentation is obvious in the second of these sermons. Only the last two pieces show the same in-depth, carefully developed composition that can be seen in Bonaventure's first sermon on Saint Francis, October 4, 1255.

It is important to note, however, Bonaventure used these sermons to explain or deepen images or biblical passages present in his legends. The third sermon, for example, revolves around Haggai 2:23, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant . . . and make you like a seal. "For as Zerubbabel," Bonaventure explains, "whose name means 'leader of the exodus,' led the people out of Babylon and rebuilt the Temple, so Saint Francis brought many people from the disorder of sin to Christ and, he founded a religious Order." The sermon becomes a brilliant elaboration of the seal that Bonaventure's new Zerubbabel, Francis, had become: "refashioned, transformed, imprinted and declaratory."47 In the Sermon on the Feast of the Transferral, Bonaventure elaborates on the images of Jacob and Moses, both present in




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 504