This week's reading looks at two different approaches to Franciscan mysticism: that of the great scholastic Bonaventure and that of an illiterate urban woman, Angela of Foligno. We'll talk about how both individuals model and transform Francis' spirituality and practice. If you need a refresher on how Francis was perceived or understood by his followers, feel free to go back to our excerpt from the first and second Lives of St. Francis, or head to the library and check out one of several translations of the complete texts.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a decent biographical discussion of Bonaventure. While I might quibble with the author's placement of the Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (Journey of the Soul into God) in the category of Bonaventure's philosophical rather than mystical works (I think it is clearly both, and a wonderful challenge to the notion that rational philosophy and mysticism are necessarily oppositional frameworks), the text serves as a nice introduction to Bonaventure and his work. For Angela, we'll rely on the brief entry in Petroff.

If you would like to explore further the tension between Clare's professed desire to follow in Francis's footsteps and the desire of authorities to enclose the Poor Ladies, you might want to look at Clara Gennaro's "Clare, Agnes, and Their Earliest Followers: From the Poor Ladies of San Damiano to the Poor Clares" in Women and Religion in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, Daniel Bornstein and Roberto Ruscon, eds. Trans. by Margery J. Schneider. (University of Chicago Press, 1996) 39-55. On the fifteenth-century Colletine reform of the Poor Clares see Marie Richards, "Community and Poverty in the Reformed Order of St. Clare in the Fifteenth Century," Journal of Religious History 19, 1 (June 1995) 10-25.

There are a number of websites devoted to Franciscan history and/or Franciscan spirituality. The Franciscan Web Page includes a good tour of Assisi while The Franciscan Experience has a considerable amount of background information on Francis, Clare, the Franciscan movement and Franciscan texts and spirituality (sometimes even accurate!).