St. Bonaventure (1217-1274)
Itinerarium Mentis in Deum
The Journey of the Mind into God
Read by: Dan Attrell
This essay written in 1259 by St. Bonaventure, a 13th century minister general of the Franciscan Order, is a monument of medieval philosophy, particularly influenced by the mystical vein of ‘apophatic’ thinkers stretching from Proclus and Ps. Dionysius to Joachim of Fiore and beyond. It gives an account of a vision had by St. Francis of Assisi wherein he received the wounds of Christ from a six-winged Seraph.
Bonaventure took these six wings to symbolize the six steps along the road to perfection and the divine, which he lays out in a Neoplatonic hierarchy of ascent into pure Being and Oneness. Bonaventure’s Neoplatonic interpretation of Christian mysticism would prove itself a significant counterpoint against Aristotelian rationalism which overtook the University of Paris during the High Middle Ages and would re-articulate such beliefs as angelomorphosis through contemplative spirituality, negative theology, and the Imitatio Christi for subsequent generations of Platonically-inclined thinkers like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola during the Renaissance.
A more recent English-and-Latin version available here