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Richard of St.-Victor

Scholar and mystic. Born in Scotland, at an early age he entered the abbey of St.-Victor in Paris, becoming superior (1159) and prior (1162). Learned in Scripture and the Latin Fathers and given to theological questions and contemporary problems, he—like his esteemed master, Hugh of St.-Victor*—possessed great grammatical, dialectical, and rational ability. He shared more with Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury (using his rationes necessariae method), and Bonaventura than with Abelard, Peter Lombard, and Gilbert de la Porrée. Contemplation he practiced and understood, breaking it down into six stages; and his Benjamin minor and Benjamin maior demonstrate these processes personally. Each stage corresponds to the progressive categories of knowledge—imaginatio and ratio to intelligentia—and has its own object from the visible to the spiritual and invisible. In De Trinitate he tried to understand the personal nature of God, which led to analyzing supreme goodness. This teaching was not followed later, although his mystical theology had influence through Bonaventura and the Franciscan school. He adumbrated Aquinas, but also believed more in speculative reasoning to unravel doctrines like the Trinity. He also wrote Liber de Verbo incarnato; De statu interioris hominis; De Emmanuele; and Adnotationes mysticae in psalmos.

See A.M. Éthier, Le ’De Trinitate’ de Richard de Saint-Victor (1939), and G. Dumeige, Richard de Saint-Victor et l’idée chrétienne de l’amour (1952).