FIOR (Franciscan Institute Outreach - Malta)

10. Franciscan Schools of thought (2)

The Franciscan School of Paris

10.14. The Friars Minor were in Paris from the very beginnings of the Order. In 1217 Francis sent a group of friars to France. In 1218 the Friars Preachers (Dominicans) had their own "studium" at Saint Jacques, while the Friars Minor founded their "studium" in the dependency of the Abbey of Saint Denis, in 1219. In 1230 the Franciscan School moved to the "magnus conventus", at Saint German des Prés, which became the principal house of studies in the Order. The king St. Louis IX built a large friary for the Franciscans in 1234, and Gregory IX confirmed this donation in 1236. Thus the great convent of the Cordeliers (Franciscans) was founded together with the conventual church of St. Mary Magdalen. The university sermons on feast days were held at this place, just as they were held on Sundays in the large conventual church of St. Jacques of the Friars Preachers. The School of Paris soon became famous in its Franciscan output of philosophical and theological thought. On the philosophical level the Franciscan School of Paris gave importance to speculation, and to the studies of classical Greek philosophy (Plato, Aristotle), as it as handed down by the Mediaeval commentators such as Averroes and Avicenna. The Franciscan style of philosophical thought is markedly Platonic and Augustinian.

a. Alexander of Hales (1185/86-1245)

10.15. Alexander was born in Hales, Shropshire, in England. In 1200 he left for studies at the university of Paris. He became bachelor of arts in 1210 and a "magister regens" in 1220. He remains famous for his Commentary of the Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard. In 1229 he appears as one of the most outstanding philosophers and theologians of the Paris university. In 1231 he went to England, where he became canon of Linchfield and archdeacon of Coventry. In 1236 he was back in Paris, where he joined the Order of Friars Minor. In this way he introduced his university chair of professor into the Franciscan School. In this way the Friars Minor acquired their own chair in the university. Alexander of Hales is also famous for the "Expositio regulae quattuor magistrorum", a commentary on the Franciscan Rule, which he wrote in 1241 together with other masters of the Franciscan School of Paris, especially Jean De La Rochelle and Eudes Rigaud. Alexander took part in the Council of Lyon in 1245 and died in Paris during the same year. His main philosophical works include his "Summa Theologica", the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard and the "Quaestiones Alexandri".

b. Jean De La Rochelle (1200c-1245c)

10.16. This philosopher was a disciple of Alexander of Hales. He was born at La Rochelle and became a Franciscan in the province of Tours. He was a "magister regens" of the university of Paris from 1238 until 1245. He collaborated with Alexander in the Exposition of the Rule. He is author of the "Summa de anima" and the "Tractatus de anima et virtutibus".

c. Saint Bonaventure from Bagnoregio (1217-1274)

10.17. Giovanni Fidanza was born in 1217 in Civita di Bagnoregio in the Lazio region of Italy. In 1235 he was sent to Paris as a disciple of Alexander of Hales. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 1243. His other lecturers included Jean De La Rochelle and Eudes Rigaud. He became a bachelor of arts, wrote his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and became a bachelor of Scripture after commenting the Gospel of St. Luke. Together with Thomas Aquinas he had to defend the mendicants' cause against the secular masters of the university during a bitter quarrel in the years 1254-1257. In 1257 he was installed as regent master of the Franciscan School, but he was elected Minister General of the Order on 2 February 1257. As Minister General he was author of the Major Life of St. Francis (1260-1263) and of the Narbonne Constitutions (1260), plus many other mystical works, among which the "Itinerarium mentis in Deum" (1259). His last work, left unfinished, was of a philosophical nature, the "Collationes in Hexaëmeron". In 1273 he was nominated cardinal bishop of Albano and prepared the way for the Council of Lyon in 1274. He died on 15 July 1274 at Lyon. His philosophical-theological works also include a set of Disputed Questions, "de scientia Christi", "de mysterio Trinitatis", and "de perfectione evangelica", as well as a concise treatise called "Breviloquium" and a typical demonstration of the mediaeval concept of philosophy and theology in the "De reductione artium ad Theologiam". Bonaventure was a great leader of the Franciscan School of Paris. He placed all knowledge under the category of wisdom ("sapientia"), taking as a foundation of his thought Platonic philosophy and Augustinian voluntarism.

d. Matteo d'Acquasparta (1240-1302)

10.18. The home town of Matteo is Acquasparta, near Todi, in Umbria. He became a Franciscan in 1268 and passed on to Paris for his studies. There he became regent master in 1277. His teachers included Walter of Bruges, John Peckham and William De La Mare. St. Bonaventure was already Minister General when Matteo was in Paris. He also became a lecturer in the "schola sacri palatii" of the Roman Curia. During the General Chapter of 1287 Matteo was elected Minister General of the Order until 1288, when he was nominated cardinal and papal legate. He died in Rome in 1302 and is author of two main philosophical works, "Quaestiones de fide et cognitione" and "Quaestiones decem de cognitione".

e. Pierre Jean Olieu (1248/49-1298)

10.19. Olieu or Olivi was born in Hérault, France. He entered the Franciscan Order when still an adolescent. In 1261-1271 he was in Paris, as a disciple of Bonaventure and Matteo d'Acquasparta, together with John Peckham and Walter De La Mare. He became a bachelor of arts, but without receiving the rank of regent master. During his life as a friar he was involved in the controversy between the Community and the Spirituals. He definitely sided with the Spirituals, and was one of the leaders of this group. The General Chapter of Strasbourg (1282) nominated a commission of seven theologians of the university of Paris to examine the writings of Olivi, who had to appear in front of the commission in Avignon in 1283. Later on he was allowed to teach at the "studium" of the convent of Santa Croce in Florence, during the generalate of Matteo d'Acquasparta. Subsequently he taught at Montpellier and died in Narbonne in 1298. Olivi is author of a philosophical work entitled "Quaestiones in Secundum Librum Sententiarum".

© copyright FIOR-Malta
Text by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm



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