Franciscan Doctor of the Church: 1221-1274
+ Bonaventure was born in Tuscany in 1221. As a boy, he met Saint Francis of Assisi and he was inspired to enter the Franciscan Order in 1243.
+ He was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order in 1257, at a time of crisis for the order as various factions began to interpret the teachings of Saint Francis in different ways. Bonaventure stressed the basic Franciscan values, especially poverty.
+ A brilliant thinker and gifted writer, he saw study and learning as being important for the friars’ ministries of preaching and teaching.
+ In 1273, Bonaventure was named cardinal-archbishop of Albano, Italy. He became a key figure in the theological and philosophical disputes of his day.
+ Saint Bonaventure, the “Seraphic Doctor,” died in 1274 while taking part in the Council of Lyons. He was canonized in 1482 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1588.
Among Saint Bonaventure’s writings is a treatise on religious life known as Concerning the Perfection of Life. This was written for Saint Isabelle of France and her community of Poor Clares at Longchamps. Isabelle was the daughter of another saint: Saint Louis IX, King of France.
“On earth… we may contemplate the divine immensity through reasoning and admiration; in the heavenly homeland, on the other hand, through the vision, when we are likened to God and through ecstasy… we shall enter into the joy of God.”—Saint Bonaventure
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday
of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure,
we may benefit from his great learning
and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.