St. Bonaventure


St. Bonaventure, O.F.M. (Italian: San Bonaventura; 1221 – 1274)



Saint Bonaventure: Bishop, Doctor, Apostle of Truth



St. Bonaventure, was an Italian medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher and known as "the seraphic doctor". He was born at Bagnorea in Tuscany in 1221. Almost nothing is known of his childhood, other than the names of his parents, Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella. He received the name of Bonaventure in consequence of an exclamation of St. Francis of Assisi, when, in response to the pleading of the child's mother, the saint prayed for John's recovery from a dangerous illness, and, foreseeing the future greatness of the little John, cried out "O Buona ventura"-O good fortune!


At the age of twenty-two, he entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris, possibly under Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan, and certainly under Alexander's successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253, he held the Franciscan chair at Paris and was proceeded as Master of Theology. In Paris, he became the intimate friend of the great St. Thomas Aquinas. He received the degree of Doctor, together with St. Thomas Aquinas.



At the age of thirty-five, he was chosen the seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. He did much for his Order and composed the Life of St. Francis. He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but he begged not to be forced to accept that dignity. Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyon in 1274. Before his death, he abdicated his office of General of the Franciscan Order. He died while he was assisting at the Second Council of Lyons, on July 15, 1274. The only extant relic of the saint is the arm and hand with which he wrote his Commentary on the Sentences, which is now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St. Nicholas. St Bonaventure was canonized on 14 April, 1427 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 14 March, 1587 by Pope Sixtus V. He is known as the "Seraphic Doctor" (Latin: Doctor Seraphicus). Many writings believed in the Middle Ages to be his are now collected under the name Pseudo-Bonaventura.


Pictures of St. Bonaventure