> Lent through a Franciscan Lens – Saint Bonaventure

Lent through a Franciscan Lens – Saint Bonaventure


St. Bonaventure

By S. Patricia Larkin OSF

When he was born in 1221 in Tuscany, St. Bonaventure received the name Giovanni De Fidanza. It was changed to Bonaventure after an exclamation of St. Francis of Assisi when, in response to pleading by the child’s mother, the Saint prayed for his recovery from a dangerous illness and, foreseeing little John’s future greatness, Francis cried out, “O Buona Ventura,” O Good Fortune.

At age 22, Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order. When he took his vows, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies under the celebrated Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan. Bonaventure continued his courses under John of Rochelle and, while in Paris, became a good friend of St. Thomas Aquinas. He also enjoyed the friendship of King St. Louis and received the degree of Doctor.

Bonaventure was 35 years old when he became general of the Franciscan Order; he restored calm when internal dissensions disturbed peace. He did much for the Order and wrote The Life of Francis. He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but he begged not to be forced to accept the dignity. Pope Gregory X obliged him to take a more significant position, that of Cardinal and Bishop of Albino, one of the Sees of Rome. Before his death, Bonaventure abdicated his office as General of the Franciscan Order. He died on July 15, 1274, while assisting at the Second Council of Lyons.

St. Bonaventure’s vibrant faith and theological and philosophical works still inspire people worldwide. A wonderful quote from his book, “Six Wings of The Seraph:” “Prayer illuminates the mind and stimulates the desire for true good. It gives us the strength to fulfill our responsibilities and assures that our actions are virtuous. It discourages sin; it harmonizes and synchronizes our words and actions.”

We celebrate St. Bonaventure’s feast day on July 15.