The Use of Imagination, Emotion, and the Will in a Medieval Classic: The Meditaciones Vite Christi
By Lawrence F. Hundersmarck
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, Vol. 6:2 (2003)
Introduction: In the early fourteenth century a work known as the Meditaciones Vite Christi sought to probe the inexhaustible meaning of Scripture. The work, long attributed to St. Bonaventure,was composed by an Italian Franciscan, John de Caulibus from San Gimignano. Caulibus’s Meditations on the Life of Christ was offered as a series of imaginative reconstructions of the Gospel accounts to serve the religious needs of a Poor Clare nun for whom he served as spiritual advisor. To meet her needs, Caulibus created what would prove to be an immensely popular and influential book that had the capacity to make the Gospel account of the past dynamically alive in the present. In Meditations on the Life of Christ, the scenes of salvation are presented as eyewitness accounts. Caulibus sketches scenes with words and images that creatively fill in the details of the life of Christ and that are calculated to touch the nun’s emotions and move her will. The text seeks to make the nun see and feel, and to prompt the reform of her life by conforming it to the life of Christ.