Aquinas and Franciscan Nature Mysticism

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005


Excerpt: "In Canto XI of Dante'sParadiso , Thomas Aquinas (who speaks more lines than anyone else with the exception of Beatrice) sings the praises of St. Francis, the founder of the Order of Friars Minor. This encomium will be matched in the following canto by Bonaventure's celebration of St. Dominic. Commentators on this text point invariably to the friction, if not outright hostility, that had developed between the two mendicant orders, and call attention to Dante's suggestion of a harmony beyond the grave that should have prevailed as well in this life. Dante would also have been aware of the parallel provisions in the rule of both orders that a Franciscan preach in a Dominican church and a Dominican in a Franciscan on the respective founders' feast days. Though commentators continue to refer to a sermon of Thomas's whose title suggests that it is on the subject of Francis and that is printed in the Parma edition of the Omnia opera, the sermon is not only spurious but also, unfortunately, makes no mention of Francis. My claim in this paper is that there is more in Canto XI than coin-of-the-realm courtesies. Although Dante relied on Bonaventure's Legenda (and possibly also on Celano) as his sources in placing emphasis on Francis's devotion to Lady Poverty, the poet had, I contend, intuited a deeper truth: namely, that Thomistic metaphyics provides a more solid footing for Francis's nature mysticism than anything developed by his own order."


Copyright 2005 Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Minnesota

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Publication Title

Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture

Published Citation

Long, R. James (2005). "Aquinas and Franciscan Nature Mysticism," Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 8:2 (Spring 2005) 52-60.



Peer Reviewed