Richard of St. Victor

Giovanni di Paolo, "Paradiso Canto 10" 

In his “On Trinity and Creation”, Richard of St. Victor (c.1100-1173) writes about the nature of the mystic ascent towards the Divine, which shows us some of the inspiration and background for Dante’s Paradiso:

“You see our starting point, our destination, and the steps of our ascent: by means of hope and love [we ascend] from Faith toward Divine Knowledge, and through Divine Knowledge [we ascend] toward Eternal Life.”

This resembles the idea of moving towards the Empyrean in the Comedy through questioning and learning in the Spheres, as the Pilgrim is growing spiritually. Richard also describes what is expressed in the final moments of the Paradise:

“[..] it is a unique gift and superior to everything else to fly up to this heaven on the wings of contemplation, and to fix the eyes of the mind on his radiance.”

The role of rationality is underlined as well, with the following claim in the Preface:

“Nor should we be satisfied with the knowledge (notitia) of eternal truths which is through faith alone, if we do not also apprehend that knowledge which is through rational comprehension (intelligentiam)”.

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