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Saint Bonaventure

“Incline thine ear, O Lady, to hear my prayers: and turn not away from me the beauty of thy face. Turn our mourning into rejoicing: and our tribulation into joy.”

St Bonaventure, The Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St Bonaventure

Saint Bonaventure was an Italian Franciscan, theologian and Philosopher in addition to being the Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He is known as the Seraphic Doctor and is honored as a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Bonaventure was born in the year 1221 at Bagnoregio which was at the time part of the Papal States. His parents were Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria di Ritella but other than a miraculous rescue from an untimely death when he prayed prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi, very little is known about his early life. He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris and received his Masters degree in 1257 alongside Saint Thomas Aquinas. He was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order and though he was selected for the post of Archbishop of York he was never consecrated and resigned the appointment in October of 1266. In his time in the Order Saint Bonaventure was instrumental in navigating the Friars as they internally were embroiled in conflicts over the interpretation of poverty. He offered organized spiritually based on the visions of Saint Francis.

“As “pride is the beginning of all sin,” (Eccl. x, 15) so humility is the foundation of all virtue. Learn to be really humble and not, as the hypocrite, humble merely in appearance.”
Saint Bonaventure, Holiness of Life

Saint Bonaventure played a pivotal role in the election of Pope Gregory X and was given the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano. Pope Gregory X also personally requested Saint Bonaventure's attendance at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274. Saint Bonaventure died shortly after this council under mysterious circumstances - he died on July 15th, 1274, in Lyon.

Saint Bonaventure was canonized in 1482 and his feast day was initially inserted in 1568 to July 14th as the feast day of July 15th was occupied by Saint Henry. In 1969 it was classified as an obligatory memorial and moved to the date of his death on July 15th.

Saint Bonaventure's writings are extensive and cover a wide range of theology while maintaining a warm and comforting tone:

  • Bonaventure Texts in Translation Series, St. Bonaventure, NY, Franciscan Institute Publications (15 volumes):

    • On the Reduction of the Arts to Theology, Translation, Introduction and Commentary by Zachary Hayes, OFM, vol. 1, 1996.

    • Journey of the Soul into God - Itinerarium Mentis in Deum translation and Introduction by Zachary Hayes, OFM, and Philotheus Boehner, OFM, vol. 2, 2002. ISBN 978-1-57659-044-7

    • Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity, translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 3, 1979. ISBN 978-1-57659-045-4.

    • Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ, translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 4, 1992.

    • Writings Concerning the Franciscan Order, translated by Dominic V. Monti, OFM, vol. 5, 1994.

    • Collations on the Ten Commandments, translated by Paul Spaeth, vol. 6, 1995.

    • Commentary on Ecclesiastes, translated by Campion Murray and Robert J. Karris, vol. 7, 2005.

    • Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, translated by Robert J. Karris (3 vols), vol. 8, 2001–4.

    • Breviloquium, translated by Dominic V. Monti, OFM, vol. 9, 2005.

    • Writings on the Spiritual Life, [includes translations of The Threefold Way, On the Perfection of Life, On Governing the Soul, and The Soliloquium: A Dialogue on the Four Spiritual Exercises, the prologue to the Commentary on Book II of the Sentences of Peter Lombard and three short sermons: On the Way of Life, On Holy Saturday, and On the Monday after Palm Sunday, vol. 10, 2006.]

    • Commentary on the Gospel of John, translated by Robert J. Karris, vol. 11, 2007.

    • The Sunday sermons of St. Bonaventure, edited and translated by Timothy J. Johnson, vol. 12, 2008.

    • Disputed questions on evangelical perfection, edited and translated by Thomas Reist and Robert J. Karris, vol. 13, 2008.

    • Collations on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, introduced and translated by Zachary Hayes, vol. 14, 2008.

    • Defense of the mendicants, translated by Jose de Vinck and Robert J. Karris, vol. 15, 2010.

  • The Life of Christ translated and edited by William Henry Hutchings, 1881.

  • The Journey of the Mind into God (Itinerarium mentis in Deum), Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993. ISBN 978-0-8722-0200-9

  • On the Reduction of the Arts to Theology (De Reductione Artium ad Theologiam), translated by Zachary Hayes, (Saint Bonaventure, NY: Franciscan Institute, 1996. ISBN 978-1-57659-043-0

  • Bringing forth Christ: five feasts of the child Jesus, translated by Eric Doyle, Oxford: SLG Press, 1984.

  • The soul's journey into God; The tree of life; The life of St. Francis. Ewert Cousins, translator (The Classics of Western Spirituality ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. 1978. ISBN 0-8091-2121-2.

  • The Mystical Vine: a Treatise on the Passion of Our Lord, translated by a friar of SSF, London: Mowbray, 1955.

  • Life of St Francis of Assisi, TAN Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-89555-151-1

  • The Road to Union, written by Thomas J Herbst,Frati Editoridi Quaracchi, 2005

  • Pocket Bonaventure, written by Thomas J Herbst, Franciscan friar, Tau Publishing, 2020

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