Bonaventurian Mary in Dante

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Much is said about the presence of Aquinas in Dante. This essay brings the Seraphic Doctor into the discussion.
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  Bonaventure, Dante and the Apocalyptic Woman Clothed with the SunAuthor(s): Rebecca S. BealReviewed work(s):Source: Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society, No. 114 (1996), pp. 209-228Published by: Dante Society of America Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40166601. Accessed: 23/02/2012 11:48 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.  Dante Society of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to  Dante Studies,with the Annual Report of the Dante Society. http://www.jstor.org  Bonaventure,Danteand theApocalypticWomanClothedWith the Sun REBECCAS. BEAL Paradiso,when Dante entershesphereof thesun,he and Beatriceare surroundedbya corona f twelvesoul-lights;hisfirst circle isencircledbyasecond,inCantoXII,nd then athird,n CantoXIV,othat beforehe leavesthe sunDanteperceivesthree concentric circles.Iconographically,hese threecirclesmostobviouslynscribe nto the sun asymbolicmageof theTrinityaconceptinvokedat the startof CantoX. Butas I haveshownelsewhere,hefirstcircleoftheologianscelebratingwithin thisheavenhaveanother unction:heyare describedas a crown anda garland, nd as suchareintegralo aspectaclepresentingBeatriceas the Womann the Sunfrom the twelfthchapterofApocalypse.1husthe twelvecirclingoul-lightsof CantoXcorrespondothe twelve starsofApocalypse12:1,andBeatrice,as she standswithin thesphereofthe sunand aboveheMoon,correspondso theApocalypticWomandescribednthesameverse: Etsignummagnumapparuitncaelo:mulieramictaole,et luna subpedibuseius,etincapiteeiuscoronastellarumduodecim [ Andgreatign appearedn heaven:a woman clothedwith thesun,andwith themoonunderherfeet,andonherhead a crown of twelvestars ].2Beatrice'sportrayaln CantosX-XIofParadisoccordswith thepresenta-tionsof theWomann the Sunin illustratedApocalypsemanuscripts,swellas withthemajorityfBiblicalmedievalcommentatorswhoread hefigureoftheApocalypticWomanasanimageof the Church.3DantealterstheApocalypticconographyof the WomanintheSun,however,sothat in CantoXIIBeatrice'sgarlandof twelve doctorsissur-roundedbyanother,onsistingof twelve moreluminaries; hen,in CantoXIV,dimly-seenthirdcircle oflightssurrounds heother two. While 209  DanteStudies, CXIV,1996 these secondand thirdcrownsarenecessarytothe trinitarianimageryofthecantos,theirintroductionshould also leadustoask how thesechangesinher crownaffectthecarefullyestablishediconographyof theApocalypticWoman. For ifDante'sappropriationofthefigureof theWoman inthe Sunbeginsbyestablishingthefigureof Beatrice as anecclesial,Church-related,versionof theWoman,when thepoetdoublesandtrebles thecrown sointegralto hericonographicalidentity,he com-plicatesthefigureinotherwaysas well.Thus the cantos of the sunbeginbyidentifyingBeatrice as theWomanintheSun;asThomas indicatesalmost in anaside toDante,she isthe one who iscrownedbythe first cir-cle oftwelve soullights: Tuvuo'saperdiquaipiantes'infiora/questa ghirlandache'ntornovagheggialabelladonna ch'al cielt'awalora (x,91-93, emphasis mine).4However,theiconograpyof the Womaninthe Sun graduallyshiftsinfocusfromBeatrice to Dante. InCantoXII,Dante andBeatricesharethespaceatthe center ofthecircling theologians: cosi diquellesempiternerose/volgiensicirca noile dueghirlande (19-20,emphasis mine);here the garlandsofroses now crownboth Dante andhislady, noi. Later inthe samecanto,Danteseems to achieve moreprominencethanBeatrice atthe center ofthe circles whenBonaventurerecallsthatDominic asked leave tofight perlo seme/delqualtifascianventiquattro piante (95-96,emphasismine),and thepointisunderscoredinCantoXIII,when Dante describes the double circle oftheologiansinterms of Ariadne'scrown, che circulavailpuntodov' to era (21,empha-sismine).Iamsuggesting,then,thatalthoughCantosx-xiestablishBeatriceas the Womanin theSun,DantePilgrimtakesthat roleaswell,at firstmetonymicallybyassociationwith Beatrice.Thefigureof theWomanin the Sunchangesat severallevels; first,andmostobviously,at the literallevel,intheadditionofcrownsandtheiden-tificationof thehumanfigurewho isthe focusofthosecrowns.Further,theallegoricalmeaningoftheimageshiftsas wellfromtheEcclesia-ori-entedallegoryof CantosX-xi.AsIshallarguein thispaper,in CantoXII,wherethefirstcircleoftheologiansandteachersis surroundedbyasec-ond,thissecondcrowningsuggeststhatDantealsowantstopresentanApocalypticWomanwithinthecontextofMarianandcontemplativetra-ditionsparticularlyas theimageisappropriatedinthesermonsandwrit-ingsofthefigureDanteplacesasspokesmanofthesecondcircleoftheologiansinthefourthheaven,theseventhministergeneraloftheFranciscanorder,St.Bonaventure.5 210  Bonaventure,ante nd heApocalypticomanlothedWith heSun,REBECCA. beal Bonaventurementions theApocalypticWoman inthe Sun inten of hissermons.6Inoneofthese,theWomanclearlyrefers toEcclesia,andBonaventure follows standard medievalexegeticaltreatments ofher,sothat one is struckbysimilarities between Bonaventure'sdepictionoftheApocalypticWoman and Dante's firstpresentationof Beatrice inthesun,inCantosX-XI.Thus,in asermon,delivered onthe Feast ofSt.Stephen(Dec. 26),Bonaventure mentions theApocalypticWoman,focuses ontheWoman'scrown,andexplicatesher twelve starsasacrownmadeupof doctors or teachers: Haec est coronadoctorum,quiaquiadiustitiamerudiuntmultosquasistellaeinperpetuasaeternitatesfulgebunt,ut diciturDanielis duodecimo [ Thisis a crown ofteachers,because 'thosewhoteachjusticetomanywillshineaseternalstarsforever,'as is said inDaniel12 ]7an nterpretationnot farremovedfromDante's ownpresentationofChurchdoctorsas thesoul-lights makingupBeatrice'sfirstcrown inthesun. Yetdespitethis and one other nod to the dominantexegeticalread-ingof theApocalypticwoman asEcclesia,themajorityofBonaventure'sallusionstoApocalypse12:1aremade withreferencetothe Woman as theVirgin Mary.8The context isparticularly mportant,for the saintincorpo-ratesreadingsofthefigureofthe Woman in theSun as Ecclesiaonlytwicein non-Marian sermons-the twojustnoted-but uses theimageineightof thetwenty-foursermonsgivenon feasts devoted toMaryrecorded intheQuaracchiedition:mostnotablyinfive of his six sermonson the feastof theAssumptionof theVirgin,oncein asermon on the feast ofthePurificationof theVirgin,and twice in sermons on theNativityof theVirgin.In all of these Mariansermons,the Womaninthe Sun is inter-pretedasMary.The number of useshe makes of thefigureinMarian sermonspointtoBonaventure'sprimaryassociation of thefigureof theApocalypticwomanwithMary,buttheydo not indicatethewayin whichthe saintappropriatesheimageandrelies on it for emotional and rhetoricalimpactas wellas for didactic content.Thus,forinstance,he often usesApocalypse12:1 atrhetorically significantmoments in hissermons: onceashis text and themajorimageofthesermon(DeAssumptionB.VirginisMariae,Sermo6);once as amajorpartof the introduction(DeAssumptionsB.VirginisMariae,Sermo5);three timesin hisconclusion(DeSancteStephanoMartyre,Sermo2;De SanctisAngelis,Sermo5;De Nativitate B.VirginisMariae,Sermo3);twice whileconcludingamajordivision of hissermon(PartIIof DeAssumptioneB.VirginisMariae,Sermo2,andPartI of 211
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