Daniel, from the Jaffa community, has sent us a brief article about Saint Bonaventure, a great Franciscan theologian and a doctor (teacher) of the Church whose feast is celebrated on July 15.*


Saint Bonaventure (Giovanni Fidanza) was born in about 1217 in Bagnorea, Italy. He was educated in the school alongside the Franciscan monastery in his native region. He later studied at the University of Paris where his teacher was Alexander de Halle, the founder of the Franciscan School.

In 1242, he entered the Franciscan order and was thenceforth known as Bonaventure. From 1248 until 1257 he taught in the University of Paris. On February 2, 1257, he was elected Minister General (head) of the Franciscan order.

 

bovaventure

He understood that the challenge for the monks to live the remarkable dynamism of the life of Saint Francis in a precise way was an impossible one. Therefore, he sought to adapt the ideal of monastic life to the period in which the monks lived. They served according to diverse apostolic projects with emphasis being put on the educational and the scientific. Thanks to him, many of the monks were holders of teaching chairs in the universities of Europe. Thus, the order bestowed on the world a great number of men of science.

During the 1260 Chapter of the order the first detailed constitution of the order was accepted, it being the work of Bonaventure. In 1273, Pope Gregory X bestowed the title of bishop on him and he served as Bishop of Albino. He left an indelible impression on the work of the Second Council of Lyons and during one of its sessions Bonaventure died, on July 15, 1274.

He left behind him an immense spiritual heritage: philosophical, theological exegetical and mystical writings as well as writings that relate to the Franciscan order and homilies. He also wrote two surveys of the life of Saint Francis. They were written at the request of the order in order to combat distorted images of the saint. They are written in figurative language and are based on the testimonies of Thomas Celini and other brothers of the order who lived with Francis.

Bonaventure, although known as a saint in the order shortly after his death, was officially proclaimed a saint in 1588 by Pope Sixtus IV. He was later proclaimed a "doctor" (teacher) of the Church. His feast is celebrated on July 15.*

(In the Holy Land, the feast is celebrated on July 17 because July 15 is the commemoration of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and July 16 is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel).