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BONAVENTURA, a Tuscan by birth, was born in
1221, and educated at Paris, which was still the most illustrious school of theology in Europe. Upon entering the Franciscan Order, he changed his family name, John of Fidanza, to that by which he is known to the after world. In 1245 he became himself professor of theology at Paris, in 1256 General of his Order, and in 1273 cardinal-bishop of Alba. He died in 1274 at Lyons, during the Council which was held there, to which he had accompanied Pope Gregory the 10th. At once a master in the scholastic and mystical theology, though far greater in the last, he received from the Church of the middle ages the title Doctor Seraphicus, and his own Order set him against the yet greater Dominican, Thomas Aquinas. His Biblia Pauperum is an honourable testimony to his zeal for the spread of Scriptural knowledge through the ministry of the Word among the common people: nor can any one have even that partial knowledge of his writings, which is all that I myself would claim, without entirest conviction that he who could thus write, must have possessed a richest personal familiarity with all the deeper mysteries of that spiritual life whereof he speaks. Yet this ought not to tempt us to deny, but rather the more freely to declare, that he shared, and shared largely, in the error as well as in the truth of his age. At the same time, if we except the Psaltery of the Virgin,
there is no work of his by which he could be so unfavourably known as his Meditations on the Life of Jesus Christ, of which some may remember a most offensive reproduction some years ago in England. If indeed that Psaltery of the Virgin be his, of which happily there are considerable doubts, it is too plain that he did not merely acquiesce in that amount of worship of the creature which he found, but was also its enthusiastic promoter to a yet higher and wilder pitch than before it had reached. His Latin poetry is good, but does not call for any especial criticism.
XXIII. IN PASSIONE DOMINI.
UAM despectus, quam dejectus,
Pauper et egenus ivit
XXIII. Bonaventuræ Opp. Lugduni, 1668, vol. vi. p. 423.
35. secum] All are aware that there are, even in the Latin of the best age, some slight anticipations of the breaking down of the distinction between the demonstrative and the reflective pronouns (Zumpt, Lat. Gramm. § 550). In medieval Latin they are continually confounded, and the reflective put instead of the demonstrative, as here, and again in the next stanza.
Bone frater, quicquid agas,
Crucifixe, fac me fortem,
XXIV. DE PASSIONE DOMINI.
UANTUM hamum caritas tibi præsentavit,
Te quidem aculeus hami non latebat,
Ergo pro me misero, quem tu dilexisti,
Heu! cur beneficia Christi passionis
Suo quippe corpore languidum te pavit,
XXIV. Bonaventuræ Opp. vol. vi. p. 424; Corner, Prompt. Devot. p. 117.