William of Melitona (Middleton)

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WILLIAM OF MELITONA (MIDDLETON)

Franciscan theologian variously listed as de Mideltoun or de Militona; b. Middleton (?), England; d. 1260 or before. In 1245 he was in Paris in the company of alexander of hales and john of la rochelle. By 1248 he was certainly a master in theology and in that capacity was part of the commission that proposed the condemnation of the Talmud (see Chartularium universitatis Parisiensis, ed. H. Denifle and E. Chatelain, 4 v. (Paris 188997) 1:209). Some time later he was charged with completing, in collaboration with other friars, the Summa theologica of Alexander of Hales, left unfinished at the death of its author in 1245. William was also part of a commission of five friars that studied the rule proposed by (Bl.) Isabella, sister of (St.) Louis IX, King of France, for a monastery she intended to found at Longchamp, near Paris. The last certain mention of William is at the general chapter of the Friars Minor held at Narbonne on May 23, 1260, when suffrages were requested for him and for others who had died since the last general chapter held in Rome in February 1257. William was distinguished not only for his knowledge but also for his holiness and is listed in the Martyrologium Franciscanum under date of September 15.

William's principal work is the Quaestiones de sacramentis composed between 1245 and 1249. It is divided into six parts: De sacramentis in genere (69 qq.), De sacramento baptismi (52 qq.), De sacramento confirmationis (15 qq.), De sacramento altaris (75 qq.), De poenitentia virtute (34 qq.), and De poenitentia sacramento (25 qq.). It is the most extensive and the most important work written on the sacraments before those of bonaventure and thomas aquinas. It had great influence on two anonymous compilations, one in Brussels (Bibl. Regia, cod. 1542) and the other in Assisi (Bibl. Comunale, cod. 182), and Bonaventure himself used it. Rearranged, modified, and often noticeably enlarged, it was also incorporated in the fourth book of the Summa Halesiana that William had been assigned to complete. He also compiled the Opusculum super missam [ed. A. Van Dijk, Ephemerides liturgicae (Rome 1887) 53 (1939) 311349], which explains the meaning of clerical tonsure, of liturgical garments, of the altar, of canonical hours, and of the Mass. Twentyfour of his Quaestiones disputatae, dealing primarily with theological and moral problems, have been discovered; with the exception of a fragment here or there, they are all unpublished. The manuscript codices attribute to William a long series of commentaries or marginalia on the scriptures (see F. Stegmüller, Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi, 2 v. [Würzburg 1947], nn. 292766), but the authenticity of these is not certain; they may be the work of a Dominican contemporary, William of Alton.

Bibliography: Introduction, Quaestiones de sacramentis, ed. c. piana and g. gÁl (Bibliotheca Franciscana scholastica medii aevi 2223; 1961) 5*33*. v. natalini, "Natura della grazia sacramentale nelle Quaestiones de sacramentis di Guglielmo de Militona," Studi Francescani 58 (1961) 6292.

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