Medieval Bibliography #5:

  Francis of Assisi & the Mendicants

 - New Testament
 - Early Christianity
 - Medieval Christianity
 - The Reformation
 - Spirituality & Mysticism
 - Sacraments
 - 20th-Century Theology




#1: Surveys, Intros
#2: Benedict
#3: Gregory VII
#4: Anselm
#5: Francis of Assisi
#6: Thomas Aquinas
#7: Meister Eckhart


 compiled by William Harmless, S.J.

Creighton University 


   1. Francis of Assisi: Texts & Translation

   2. Francis of Assisi: Studies

   3. Bonaventure: Texts & Translations

   4. Bonaventure: Studies

   5. The Franciscan Order: Studies

   6. Dominic & the Dominicans: Texts & Studies

   7. Popular Medieval Spirituality





Few figures have captured the Christian imagination as powerfully as the early 13th-century charismatic reformer Francis of Assisi (d. 1224).  His radical commitment to poverty transformed how Christians saw Jesus and offered a relentless challenge to the power and riches of the medieval church.


Texts: The search for the historical Francis is ever bit as complicated as the search for the historical Jesus. The volume of medieval Lives of Francis of Assisi is staggering, running thousands of pages. The monumental collection of the lives of Francis is Fontes Franciscani, ed. Enrico Menesttò and Stefano Brufani (Assisi: Edizioni Porziuncola, 1995). This gathers the best Latin text of Francis's medieval biographers, including Thomas of Celano, Julian of Speyer, Bonaventure, as well as the famous Legend of the Three Companions. Much insight has come from the recovery of the surviving works of Francis himself. For a critical edition of the surviving Latin and Italian texts by Francis, see Kajetan Esser, Die Opuscula des hl. Franziskus von Assisi, Neue textkritische Edition, Zweite, erweiterte und verbesserte Ausflage besorgt von Engelbert Grau (Rome: Grottaferrata, 1989).




Regis J. Armstrong, J. Wayne Hellmann, & William J. Short, 4 vol., Francis of Assisi: Early Documents. (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1999-2001). This series is a remarkable achievement.  It includes the complete translation of all the early lives of Francis and all the essential documents of the early Franciscan and movement.  Solid translations and valuable notes.  This replaces the older Omnibus edition (ed. Marion Habig, see below).

  • Vol. 1: The Saint (1999). This contains the three works by Thomas of Celano as well as all the surviving writings of Francis himself.

  • Vol. 2: The Founder (2000).  This contains two of the most crucial lives of Francis: Bonaventure’s Legenda and the Legend of the Three Companions.

  • Vol. 3: The Prophet (2001).  This includes the popular Fioretti, or Little Flowers of St. Francis.

  • Vol. 4: Index (2002). Oddly published as a separate volume.

Regis Armstrong & Ignatius C. Brady, eds., Francis & Clare: The Complete Works, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1982).

Regis Armstrong, William J. Short, and J.A. Wayne Hellman, Clare of Assisi: The Lady: Early Documents (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 2007).

Regis Armstrong et al., eds., The Franciscan Tradition, Spirituality in History series (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010).

Marion A. Habig, ed., St. Francis of Assisi: Writings and Early Biographies, English Omnibus of Sources for the Life of St. Francis (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983).





Lawrence S. Cunningham, Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004). This study offers an excellent introduction to the life, times, and teaching of Francis of Assisi. Cunningham writes for a broad audience and teaches readers how to approach things with a critical eye, how to cut through the sentimentality that often clouds the radicalism and challenge of Francis’ life and message. He concludes with a helpful essay on recent studies on Francis and the Franciscans.


Michael Robson, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Francis of Assisi, Cambridge Companions to Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) paperback, $30. NEW. An excellent collection of essays on Francis and the early Franciscans.


Marco Bartoli, Clare of Assisi, trans. Frances Teresa (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1993).

Rosalind B. Brooke, The Image of St. Francis: Responses to Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Donal Cooper and Janet Robson, The Making of Assisi: The Pope, the Franciscans, and the Painting of the Basilica (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013) hardcover, $75. NEW.

Arnaldo Fortini, Francis of Assisi, trans. Helen Moak (New York: Crossroad, 1980).  Translation of 1959 work; thorough, but rather hagiographic.  Fortini was the former mayor of Assisi and spent years combing the city archives.

Chiara Frugoni, Francis of Assisi (New York: Continuum, 1998).

Adrian House, Francis of Assisi (New York: Paulist Press, 2001).

Leslie S. Knox, Creating Clare of Assisi: Female Franciscan Identities in Later Medieval Italy (Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008).

Jacques LeGoff, Saint Francis of Assisi, trans. Christine Rhone (New York: Routledge, 2003). A collection of essays on Francis and the Franciscans.  LeGoff attunes readers to the social context and dynamics.

Raoul Manselli, Saint Francis of Assisi (Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1988).

Joan Mueller, Clare of Assisi: The Letters to Agnes (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2003).

Joan Mueller, The Privilege of Poverty: Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Prague, and The Struggle for a Franciscan Rule for Women (Pennsylvania State University, 2006).

Michael Robson, The Franciscans in the Middle Ages, Monastic Orders series (Boydell, 2009).

Michael Robson, Saint Francis of Assisi: The Legend and the Life (New York: Continuum, 2000).

Roger D. Sorrell, St. Francis of Assisi and Nature: Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Augustine Thompson, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012) hardcover, $30. NEW.

John V. Tolan, Saint Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslm Encounter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Andre Vauchez, Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012) hardcover, $32.  NEW.

Kenneth Baxter Wolf, The Poverty of Riches: St. Francis of Assisi Reconsidered, Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).





Texts: For a critical edition of Bonaventure’s Latin works, see octoris Seraphici S. Bonaventurae opera omnia, 10 vol. (Quaracchi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1882-1902).  Bonaventure’s vast corpus of theological writings are slowly being translated (or re-translated); see George Marcil and Zachary Hayes, eds., Works of Saint Bonaventure (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1978-      ).  An older 5-volume translation by José de Vinck, The Works of Bonaventure (Patterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1960-1970), is still useful; it offers a complete translation of Bonaventure’s final work, the Collations on the Six Days (Collationes in Hexaemeron).




Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis, trans. Ewert Cousins, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1978).  Bonaventure’s mystical masterpiece is the Mind’s Journey into God (Itinerarium mentis in Deum). The theme of the ascent of the inner person to God is an ancient one—but Bonaventure brings the Franciscan depth and warmth of feeling to this age-old theme.  This volume also includes Bonaventure's classic Life of Francis.


Philotheus Boehner and Zachary Hayes, eds., Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, Vol. 2 of Works of St. Bonaventure, rev. ed. (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2002).  This recent translation includes the Latin text on facing pages and has excellent notes.





Zachary Hayes, “Bonventure: Mystery of the Triune God,” in Kenan Osborne, ed., The History of Franciscan Theology (St. Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1994).  Bonaventure (d.1274) was superior general of the Franciscans, a superb scholastic theologian, and a mystical writer of the first order.  While there are several fine introductions to Bonaventure’s theology, this one carefully balances precision, lucidity, and brevity.  The volume as a whole offers an excellent overview of the Franciscan contribution to medieval theology and devotes other chapters to Alexander of Hales, Duns Scotus, and Ockham.


J.G. Bougerol, Introduction to the Works of Bonaventure, trans. José de Vinck (Patterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1964).

Charles Carpenter, Theology as the Road to Holiness in St. Bonaventure, Theological Inquiries (New York: Paulist Press, 1999).

Ewert H. Cousins, Bonaventure and the Coincidence of Opposites (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1978).

Ewert H. Cousins, “Bonaventure’s Mysticism of Language,” 236-258, in Steven T. Katz, Mysticism and Language (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Ewert H. Counsins, “Francis of Assisi: Christian Mysticism at the Crossroads,” in Steven T. Katz, Mysticism and Religious Traditions (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1983), 163-190.

Christopher M. Cullen, Bonaventure, Great Medieval Thinkers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Ilia Delio, Crucified Love: Bonaventure’s Mysticism of the Crucified Christ (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 1998).

Ilia Delio, Simply Bonaventure: An Introduction to His Life, Thought, and Writings (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2001).

Etienne Gilson, The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure, trans. Illtyd Trethowan and Frank J. Sheed (Patterson, NY: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1965).

William Harmless, "Mystic as Cartographer: Bonaventure," Mystics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 79-105.

Zachary Hayes, The Hidden Center: Spirituality and Speculative Christology in St. Bonaventure (Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1992).

Zachary Hays, Bonaventure: Mystical Writings, Spiritual Legacy series (New York: Crossroad, 1999).

J.A. Hellmann, Divine and Created Order in Bonaventure's Theology, trans. Jay M. Hammond (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 2001).

Timothy Johnson, Iste Pauper Clamavit: Saint Bonaventure’s Mendicant Theology of Prayer, Europäische Hochschulschriften, Theology (Series XXIII), vol. 390 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1990).

Timothy Johnson, The Soul in Ascent: Bonaventure on Poverty, Prayer, and Union with God (Quincy, IL: Franciscan Press, 2001).

Bernard McGinn, The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism (New York: Crossroad, 1998), 87-116.

Joseph Ratzinger, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure, trans. Zachary Hayes (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1981).

George H. Tavard, Transciency and Permanence: The Nature of Theology According to Bonaventure (St. Bonaventure, NY: The Franciscan Institue, 1954).





John Moorman, History of the Franciscan Order: From its Origins to the Year 1517 (1965; Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988).  The first 100 pages of this offers a helpful portrait of Francis of Assisi.  It also has a discussion of one of the most interesting episodes in Church history: the fight between the Papacy and the Franciscan Spirituals.


David Burr, The Spiritual Franciscans: From Protest to Persecution in the Century after Saint Francis (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003).

David Burr, Olivi and Franciscan Poverty: the Origins of the Usus Pauper Controversy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989).

D.L. D’Arvay, Preaching of the Friars: Sermons Diffused from Paris Before 1300 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Malcolm David Lambert, Franciscan Poverty: The Doctrine of Absolute Poverty of Christ and the Apostles in the Franciscan Order, 1210-1323.

C.H. Lawrence, The Friars: the Impact of the Early Mendicant Movement on Western Society (New York: Longman, 1994).

Gordon Leff, Heresy in the Later Middle Ages: The Relation of Heterodoxy to Dissent, 1250-1450, 2 vol. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1967).

Kevin Madigan, Olivi and the Interpretation of Matthew in the High Middle Ages (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).

Bernard McGinn, The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism, 1200-1350  (New York: Crossroad, 1998).

Arthur Stephen McGrade, ed., William of Ockham: A Letter to the Friars Minor and Other Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).





Texts & Translations:

Simon Tugwell, ed., Early Dominicans: Selected Writings, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1982).  It has key documents from and about not only Dominic but his great co-worker and successor, Jordan of Saxony.  The bulk of the text is Humbert of Romans' great work, Treatise on the Formation of Preachers, which better than anything else defines Dominican spirituality.  The introductory essay by Tugwell is superb.


Simon Tugwell, ed., Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings, Classics of Western Spirituality 60 (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).



Aaron Canty, Light and Glory: The Transfiguration of Christ in Early Franciscan and Dominican Theology (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2010).

Kent Emery, Christ Among the Medieval Dominicans: Representations of Christ in Texts and Images of the Order of Preachers (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999).

W.A. Hinnebusch, A History of the Dominican Order: Origins and Growth to 1550 (New York: 1966).

C.H. Lawrence, The Friars: the Impact of the Early Mendicant Movement on Western Society (New York: Longman, 1994).

Richard Woods, Mysticism and Prophecy: The Dominican Tradition, Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998).





Jacques LeGoff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).  A brilliant case-study in the development of Catholic doctrine and spirituality.  LeGoff gives lengthy excerpts from hard-to-find sources—including  entertaining examples of medieval visions and dreams of purgatory. LeGoff claims purgatory was “invented” between 1150 and 1200.


Sarah Jane Boss, ed., Mary: The Complete Resource (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Caroline Walker Bynum, Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200-1336 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).

Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: the Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).

Caroline Walker Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (Cambridge, MA: Zone Books, 1992).

Caroline Walker Bynum, ed., Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).

Steven Chase, ed., Angelic Spirituality: Medieval Perspectives on the Ways of Angels, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 2002).

Celia Chazelle, The Crucified God in the Carolingian Era: Theology and Art of Christ’s Passion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

Georgiana Donavin, Scribit Mater: Mary and the Language Arts in the Literature of Medieval England (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011).

Giles Constable, The Reformation of the Twelfth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Jacques Dalarun, Robert of Arbrissel: Sex, Sin, and Salvation in the Middle Ages, trans. Bruce L. Venarde (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2006).

Richard K. Emmerson & Bernard McGinn, ed., The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992).

Ronald C. Finucane, Contested Canonizations: The Last Medieval Saints, 1482-1523 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011) hardcover, $65.  NEW.

Patrick J. Geary, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995)

Patrick J. Geary, Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

Fiona J. Griffiths, The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

Thomas Head, Hagiography and the Cult of the Saints: the Diocese of Orleans, 800-1200 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

David Albert Jones, Angels: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

David Keck, Angels and Angelology in the Middle Ages (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Aviad Kleinberg, Flesh Made Word: Saints’ Stories and the Western Imagination (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press / Harvard University Press, 2008).

Kevin Madigan, The Passions of Christ in High-Medieval Thought: An Essay on Christological Development, Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Chris Maunder, ed., The Origins of the Cult of the Virgin Mary (New York: Continuum, 2008).

Stephen Mossman, Marquard von Lindau and the Challenges of Religious Life in Late Medieval Germany: The Passion, the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Colin Morris, The Sepulchre of Christ and the Medieval West: From the Beginning to 1600 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Thomas F.X. Noble, Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians, The Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).

Ellen M. Ross, The Grief of God: Images of the Suffering Jesus in Late Medieval England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: the Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Miri Rubin, Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009)

Jeffrey Burton Russell, A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).

R.N. Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c.1215-c.1515, Cambridge Medieval Textbooks (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1995).

André Vauchez, The Laity in the Middle Ages: Religious Beliefs and Devotional Practice (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997).

Richard Viladesau, The Beauty of the Cross: The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts from the Catacombs to the Eve of the Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1987)

Nancy Bradley Warren, The Embodied Word: Female Spiritualities, Contested Orthodoxies, and English Religious Cultures, 1350-1700 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010)

C.S. Watkins, Supernatural in Medieval England, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Brett Edward Whalen, Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009).



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Revised: December 29, 2013

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  William Harmless, SJ