St. Bonaventure (Bishop and Doctor)

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) was a great Franciscan bishop and theologian. He was born in the town of Bagnorea in central Italy, and as a youth was cured of a serious illness through the prayers of St. Francis of Assisi. This, and the fact that one of his teachers at the University of Paris was a Franciscan, prompted Bonaventure to join the Franciscan order.

He remained in Paris for many years, preaching and teaching theology and Scripture; in 1257 both he and St. Thomas Aquinas (the great Dominican theologian) received the degree of Doctor of Theology. Some opponents of the Franciscans attacked the lifestyle of the monks; along with Aquinas, Bonaventure defended them, and in 1257 he was chosen general minister, or head, of the order. Bonaventure implemented many reforms during his seventeen years of leadership, and became known as the “second founder” of the order (after St. Francis himself).

In 1265 Bonaventure was nominated as bishop of York by the pope, but declined the position. Eight years later he was appointed cardinal of Albano; his humility is illustrated by the story that, when the pope’s messengers brought the red cardinal’s hat to him, he asked them to hang it on a nearby tree, as his hands were still wet and greasy from doing the dishes. St. Bonaventure wrote many works of theology, philosophy, and mysticism, and died in 1274.

Other Saints We Remember Today

St. Henry II (1024), Emperor

Blessed Simon of Lipnicza (1482), Priest and Religious

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