St. Bonaventure – on the value of sensing and measuring the world

  • Articles (book excerpts)
  • 5200 words total
  • Level: university

Two excerpts from the twelfth-century The Mind’s Road to God of Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, both of which focus on the use of the senses to study the world. St. Bonaventure writes of the use of the sense to observe the world, noting measurements of size, type, number, order etc. of the created things of this world. And, he writes, the

…creatures of this sensible world signify the invisible things of God, partly because God is the Origin, Exemplar and End, of every creature, and (because) every effect is a sign of a cause, and an example of an exemplar, and a way for the end, towards which it leads: partly from itsown representation; partly from a prophetic prefiguration; partly from angelic activity; partly from a superadded institution. For every creature by [ex] its nature is a certain likeness and similitude of that eternal Wisdom, and especially those things which have been assumed in the book of Scripture through the spirit of prophecy for the prefiguration of spiritual things; moreover more especially those creatures, in the likeness of which God has willed to appear as an angelic minister; but most especially that which He willed to institute for signification [ad significandum], which not only accounts for [secundum] the common name of sign, but also of Sacrament.

13. From all of which is gathered, that the invisible things of God from the creatures of the world, through those which have been made, are perceived as things understood [intellecta]. so that those who do not want to advert to these and to acquaint themselves with, bless and love God in all these are inexcusable so long as [dum] they do not want to be transfered from darkness into the admirable light of God. But thanks to God through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who has transferred us from darkness into His own admirable light , while through these lights given exteriorly to the mirror [speculum] of our mind in which divine things glitter, we dispose (ourselves) to reenter.

These articles have been selected by the Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science (, which is edited by the Advanced School for Interdisciplinary Research, operating at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, and directed by Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti.

Click here for the first part of this material from, and click here for the second part.

Click here for a slightly different translation of the first part of this material from The Journey to the Mind of God (translated by Philotheus Boehner), and click here for the second part.

Click here for the entirety of The Minds’s Road to God from EWTN.