Early Dominicans: Selected Writings

Early Dominicans: Selected Writings

Early Dominicans: Selected Writings

Early Dominicans: Selected Writings

Excerpt

Some religious Orders in the Middle Ages produced unmistakable and obviously important "spiritual writers". No librarian would have any hesitation about classifying most of the works of the great Cistercian fathers as spiritual, and it would not be difficult to identify the spiritual writings of a man like Hugh of St. Victor († 1142). In the thirteenth century, the Franciscans are evidently engaged in producing spiritual works; some of the works of St. Bonaventure (c. 1217-1274) have already appeared in this series. And in due course the Dominicans too began to write books that have found their way into the spirituality sections of our libraries. In the critical edition of the works of Savonarola (1452-1498) there are two volumes of Operette Spirituali, and, before that, there are the Spiritual Letters of Bl. John Dominic (c. 1355-1419), not to mention the works of the famous German Dominican mystics, Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1328), Bl. Henry Suso (c. 1295-1366) and John Tauler († 1361), or the Treatise on the Spiritual Life by St. Vincent Ferrer (c. 1350-1419), or the writings of St. Catherine of Siena (c. 1347-1380). But in the thirteenth century, the century of the Dominican Order's birth, one is hard pressed to find any spiritual books at all, let alone "spiritual classics". There are the letters of Bl. Jordan of Saxony, which fill a slim volume and which have a modest claim to be regarded as a classic (some of them are included in this volume); there is an unpublished treatise from the end of the century, written by the novice master of Toulouse for the encouragement of his novices, but, though it enjoyed a certain success in the Order, it is certainly no classic. There are the German writings of Mechtild of Magdeburg (c. 1207-c. 1282), who was for a time associated with the Dominicans; but she was not actually a Dominican, and, in fact, ended her days as a Cistercian nun. As we . . .

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