The poverty of Francis of Assisi according to Bonaventure and its relation to poverty in John of the Cross

Lyn Marie Falzon Scheuring, Fordham University


This dissertation studies the spirituality of poverty in Francis of Assisi and in John of the Cross and deals with both exterior and interior poverty. Francis' practical and radical exterior poverty is in conformity to the kenotic image of Christ crucified. The dissertation limits itself to Bonaventure's interpretation of Francis, drawing chiefly from the former's Legenda major, Sermones, and the Apologia pauperum. Bonaventure deeply realized that the exterior poverty of Francis originated from his burning love for the Crucified, and that an exterior Franciscan poverty would be meaningless if not based on Christ. In Christ crucified we find a mystical consciousness which relates John of the Cross to Bonaventure. For John also holds that Christ crucified is the reason for divesting oneself of any interior or exterior thing which does not lead to God. An inner detachment based on conformity to Christ is then the basis for the poverty of Francis and John. In his spirituality, John of the Cross emphasizes interior poverty. Major texts used in this study are Subida del Monte Carmelo y Noche oscura from Obras de San Juan de la Cruz, Doctor de la Iglesia edited by Silverio de Santa Teresa and primarily based on "The Codex of Alcaudete" from the Silverian Archives in Burgos and the "Hispalense Codex" in the National Library of Madrid. John of the Cross and Francis of Assisi as interpreted by Bonaventure, provide a comprehensive picture of the spiritual path of poverty. The very meaning of the practice of poverty from a spiritual point of view is detachment from all that does not conform to Christ, stripped and crucified. John was the great articulator of this principle three centuries after Bonaventure who had expressed the same mystical dimension in the poverty of Francis. These models from the past offer a challenge to contemporary Christians--perhaps caught in a web of false values, self-interest, or consumerism--to identify with the poor and forsaken of this present age, by following a spiritual path of poverty in conformity to Christ.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Scheuring, Lyn Marie Falzon, "The poverty of Francis of Assisi according to Bonaventure and its relation to poverty in John of the Cross" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9020022.