St. Bonaventure

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St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure (1221 – July 15, 1274) was an extraordinary Franciscan man of holiness and a miracle-worker. It was Alexander of Hales who said that Bonaventure seemed to have escaped the curse of Adam's sin.[1] To know him was to love him. An active preacher, a renowned teacher, and a good friend of St. Thomas Aquinas. Known as one of the greatest of theologians, Bonaventure's mystical writings constitute his chief title to fame. He is called the Seraphic Doctor and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Sextus V in 1588.

Early life

Born in Bagnorea, Tuscany Italy as Giavanni (John) to father Giovanni di Fidanza and mother Ritella. As a child, John was seriously ill and his mother begged St. Francis of Assisi to intercede through prayer. He recovered and was preserved from death. At his Baptism he was given the name Bonaventure, "Good fortune!" As a young man, he joined the Roman Province of the Franciscans. Completed his education under tutelage of Alexander of Hales at Paris University and became a professor at the greatest school of theology in the medieval world. Bonaventure taught alongside St. Thomas Aquinas. Bonaventure was elected as minister general of the whole Franciscan Order at age 36 in 1257.


He initially restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions within the Order.[2] He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. Composed a book on the life of St. Francis. Made an impression for his authentically Franciscan devotion towards the Passion of our Savior; amongst his works is to be found an office of the Passion which he composed for the personal use of the saintly King Louis IX.[3] According to Bonaventurian, the practical goal of spiritual endeavor for all is a lofty contemplative prayer, union with the divine wisdom. Was selected as Archbishopric of York by Pope Clement IV but in humility refused the position. Eight years later, Pope Gregory X compelled him to accept the see of Albano and made him a Cardinal.


Before his death he abdicated his office of General of the Franciscan Order. He was assisting at the Second Council of Lyons when he died peacefully before the council had ended July 15, 1274. On hearing of Bonaventure's death, Pope Gregory X said, "A man of eminent learning and eloquence, and of outstanding holiness, he was known for his kindness, approachableness, gentleness and compassion."


Mentioned prominently by Dante in Paradiso, XII, 127ff


"When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth."


  • Commentary on the Franciscan Rule, his biography of St. Francis
  • "Itinerarium mentis in Deum" -Journey of the Soul to God
  • "De triplici via", The Threefold Way -complete summa of medieval mystical doctrine
  • "Soliloquium", a sort of dialogue containing a rich collection of passages from the Fathers on spiritual questions
  • "Lignum vitae", a series of forty-eight devout meditations on the life of Christ
  • "De sex alis seraphim", a precious opuscule on the virtues of superiors
  • "Vitis mystica", a work on the Passion
  • "De Perfectione vitae", a treatise which depicts the virtues that make for religious perfection
  • The mind's road to God
  • The Psalter of the blessed Virgin Mary
  • "Journey of the Mind into God"
  • "Collationes in Joannem" and "Collationes in Hexameron", commentary on the Fourth Gospel


  1. St. Bonaventure Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. St. Bonaventure Catholic Online
  3. St. Bonaventure 1221-1274 Catholic Information Network