The Mystical Vine
A treatise on the Passion of Our Lord

Saint Bonaventure

Translated from the Latin by a Friar of S.S.F.
Edited by Matthew Dallman




The most profuse of these bloodsheddings is to be found in the piercing by the nails. Who could doubt but that our innocent Jesus must have poured out a tremendous amount of his sacred blood, when his hands and feet were pierced? In those streams of blood our rose became empurpled. Here we find the most ardent charity and suffered of the deepest dye. Ponder awhile the ardour of this rose of charity in the red of its suffering. Who ever endured such hard and painful things? And remember here that it is God himself who is the sufferer. He whose habit was to remove completely, or at least to alleviate, the violence of their pains in his servants, refused to allow any alleviation at all in his own case, and endured to the full the harsh wine-press of his passion.

Them he knew how to spare, but himself he refused to spare. The Gospel of Saint John witness to this in that passage, where we read how, on his captors saying that they were seeking him, he gave himself up to them, saying, “I am he. If therefore ye seek me let these go their way.”

O what ardour of a true charity—indeed of the truest charity! Here charity itself reveals itself and delivers itself over to the hands of its savage enemies. Charity seeks not to spare itself, but supplicates for the salvation of its own. And so our most gentle Saviour, the dear Jesus, after much derision, was seized both by the Jews and the Gentiles, and, after much shedding of blood was pierced by nails both in his hands and his feet, being at length fastened to the wood of the cross.

Examine and see how red this rose of sanguinary passion becomes in order to express its burning charity. Charity and passion vie one another: the one for more ardour, the other for a deeper red. But it is through the ardour of charity that the passion acquires its redness in a wonderful way, since apart from love there would be no suffering. And it is the redness of the passion that manifests so great and incomparable an ardour of charity.

But just as a rose closes when the cool of the night comes on, and opens right out in the warmth of the sunrise, its expanding petals proclaiming by their redness the welcome heat, so the most lovely flower of heaven, the most good Jesus, was for a long time shut up, as it were by the cool of the night, that is, the sin of the first man, the full bounty of grace not yet having touched it. But when the fullness of time at length drew near, he was warmed by the rays of a burning charity, and then, every part of his body becoming exposed, the ardour of the rose of charity flared up in the redness of his poured-out blood.

See then how our Jesus, so red, blossoms into a rose. Examine every part of his body. Where is there a flower not to be found? Look first at one hand, then at the other; look at each foot in turn. Perchance you may discover a rose there. Look into the opening in his side. There is not lacking a rose there, though it is less red, being mixed with water, for “there came out blood and water.” This is he that came by water and blood, even the most good Jesus Christ.

O dearest Lord and Saviour of all, O good Jesus, what can I do to shew my gratitude in a worthy manner? For from the very beginning of thy life, from thy birth until thy death so hard, yes, and after death, thou didst pour out thy blood for me alone. Thou hast been at pains thus to demonstrate the ardour of thy supreme charity in the frequent outpourings of thy blood. O how manifold and beautiful has thy rose become with its many petals! Who can count them all? Count the drops of blood, shed from the most loving Jesus’ side and from his body, and you will have the number of passion roses and their petals of charity, for each drop of blood is a petal.

The seventh of our Lord’s bloodsheddings has already been briefly spoken of, when we told of the opening in his side, “whence came out blood and water.” This is the source from which we have received the sacrament of Baptism.


© Akenside Press and Matthew C. Dallman, 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, Akenside Press.