St. Bonaventure (Feast: July 15)
St. Bonaventure, “The Seraphic Doctor”, was born Giovanni di Fidanza in the vicinity of Viterbo, Tuscany in 1221. Nothing is known of his childhood except the name of his parents: Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Fidella.
Legend has it that when seriously ill as a child, his mother took him to St. Francis of Assisi. As the saint prayed over him, he was shown the infant's future spiritual greatness and exclaimed, “O, buona ventura!” O good fortune!”
He entered the Franciscan Order at age twenty-two and after taking his vows, was sent to Paris to study under the great Alexander Hale, and then John de la Rochelle.
In Paris he became close friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, and both received their doctorate at the same time. Like St. Thomas, Bonaventure was held in high esteem by King St. Louis IX.
Already while in Paris he was a great preacher and discourser and wrote Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, a work covering the whole field of scholastic theology.
He wrote extensively on philosophy and theology throughout his life.
It is said of St. Bonaventure that he united in himself two elements: tender piety and profound learning, from whence proceeded all that is most noble, sublime, great and beautiful in the Middle Ages.
At thirty-five Bonaventure was chosen General of the Franciscans, and restored peace in the place of disturbances generated by internal dissensions. While some friars were for an inflexible severity, others were for a more relaxed rule.
The saint steered the wise road of balance, reforming and restoring the spirit of his order and writing a life of St. Francis. It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas once entered Bonaventure’s cell while he was writing this biography and found him in ecstasy, “Let’s leave a saint to write about a saint,” said the Angelic Doctor.
In 1265, Pope Clement IV nominated Bonaventure to the archbishopric of York, which the saint humbly turned down to the acquiescence of the Pope.
But in 1273 Pope Gregory X elevated him to ecclesiastical dignity, and made him Cardinal, Bishop of Albano. At the Council of Lyons, he was the Pope’s right hand in preparing the matters to be addressed. Before the council began, St. Bonaventure abdicated the office of minister general of his order.
The Council of Lyons was instrumental in the effective reunion of the Greeks, a union desired by Emperor Michael Palaeologus. St. Thomas died on the way to this council, and St. Bonaventure was the council’s outstanding figure. But amidst his triumph, Bonaventure died rather suddenly during the night of July 14-15. According to the chronicle of his secretary, Peregrinus of Bologna, discovered in 1905, Bonaventure was poisoned.
He was canonized in 1482, and declared Doctor of the Church in 1588.
DAILY QUOTE for January 22, 2021
SAINT OF THE DAY
St. Vincent Pallotti
One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.