Introduction to Legends and Sermons - 505 

the Major Legend, and offers a new one as he applies the image of Mordecai, the guardian of Esther, to Francis.

The final sermon, that of October 4, 1267, reveals Bonaventure at his biblical best. His theme is Isaiah 42:1, Behold my servant whom I uphold... Zerubbabel, Job, Elijah, Paul, the wise servant of Luke's Gospel, Jesus Himself: all become images of Francis and reminders of what it means to be a Lesser Brother. Bonaventure offers new insights into persons who appear in his legends, Gregory IX, Pacifico, Saint Clare and her Sisters: each of these reveals a dimension of Francis's story portrayed in passages from Scripture, and authors such as Augustine, Anselm, Bernard, and Francis himself. This final sermon is, in a sense of tour-de-force, a commentary on Bonaventure's developing appreciation for the saint he knew as a boy, Francis of Assisi.


  1. Cesare Cenci, "De Fratrum Minorum constitutionibus praenarbonensibus," AFH 83 (1990): 50-95; The Constitutions of Narbonne (1260), in Writings Concerning the Franciscan Order, Works of Saint Bonaventure V, introduction and translation by Dominic Monti (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 1994), 71-135.
  2. Julian of Speyer, following the biographical material presented by Thomas of Celano, wrote Hic vir in vanitatibus nutritus indecenter/Plus suis nutritoribus, Se gessit insolenter [This man was raised in vanities/And shameful was his rearing;/Outstripping those that nurtured him,/His ways were overbearing.] The Chapter changed the last phrase of the antiphon to: Divinis charismatibus/Praeventus est clementer [Through divine gifts/He was mercifully delivered.] Cf. FA:ED I 332 c.
  3. Cf. LMj Prol 3.
  4. Bernard McGinn, The Flowering of Mysticism: New Men and Women in the New Mysticism–1200-1350, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, Vol. III (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998), 94-95. McGinn’s judgment reflects that of contemporary scholarship and at odds with those of A.G. Little, "Guide to Franciscan Studies," in Études franciscaines 40 (1928): 517-533; (1929): 64-68; John H.R. Moorman, The Sources of the Life of Saint Francis (Manchester: University Press, 1940), 141; and Anthony Mockler, Francis of Assisi: The Wandering Years (Oxford: Phaedon, 1976).
  5. LMn VII 8.
  6. For an understanding of these divisions, see Duncan Nimmo, Reform and Division in the Franciscan Order (1226-1538), (Rome: Capuchin Historical Institute, 1987), 51-108.
  7. Bernard McGinn notes: "Bernard of Clairvaux and Bonaventure–the doctor mellifluous and the doctor seraphicus–may be justly described as the two premier mystical teachers of the Medieval West. Both were important ecclesiastical officials who were forced to be men of action, as well as of contemplation. Both wrote on a variety of theological and church-political topics, as well as on how the soul attains God in this life." Bernard McGinn, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism, The Flowering of Mysticism (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998), 87.
  8. Both of these letters can be found in Monti, Writings, 57-62, 225-229.
  9. Moorman, Sources, 141.
  10. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Doctoris Seraphici S. Bonaventurase opera omnia. 10 volumes, in folio. (Ad Claras Aquas, Quaracchi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1882-1902), VIII, 336. This work is referred to by the traditional method, citing Roman numeral for volume, Arabic for page. A translation of the entire Letter to an Unknown Master can be found in Monti, Writings, 39-56.
  11. Cf. Sermon 1 on Saint Francis by Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, 1 (hereafter 1-4 Srm).
  12. Cf. André Vauchez, "The Stigmata of St. Francis and Its Medieval Detractors," GR 13 (1999): 61-89.
  13. cf. 1Srm, infra, 515 a.
  14. cf. 1Srm, infra, 517.
  15. Bonaventure, The Journey of the Mind into God, Prologue 2, translated by Philotheus Boehner, edited, with Introduction and notes by Stephen F. Brown (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1993), 1.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 505