St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor
St Bonaventure Receiving the Banner of St Sepulchre from the Madonna
Because of the spirit that filled him and his writings, he was initially called the Devout Doctor; but in more recent centuries he has been known as the Seraphic Doctor after the “Seraphic Father” Francis because of the truly Franciscan spirit he possessed.
At the age of twenty-two, St. Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order. After he made his vows, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies under the celebrated Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a Franciscan. When Alexander died, Bonaventure continued his course under his successor, John of Rochelle. In Paris he became the intimate friend of the great St. Thomas Aquinas. He received the degree of Doctor, together with St. Thomas Aquinas. Like St. Thomas Aquinas, he enjoyed the friendship of the holy King, St. Louis.
Bonaventure was known as a brilliant teacher and a powerful preacher. At the age of thirty-five he was chosen General of his Order and became known as its second founder. He restored a perfect calm to the Order where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. He did much for his Order. He wrote 500 sermons and composed The Life of St. Francis. He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. He was nominated Archbishop of York by Pope Clement IV, but he begged not to be forced to accept that dignity. Gregory X obliged him to take upon himself a greater one, that of Cardinal and Bishop of Albano , one of the six suffragan Sees of Rome. He died while he was assisting at the Second Council of Lyons, on July 15, 1274.
Some of his written works include:
Perfection of Life
The Threefold Way
Patron: Bowel disorders.
Symbols: Cardinal’s hat; ciborium; communion.
Often portrayed as: Cardinal in Franciscan robes, usually reading or writing.
“When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than that proceeding from the mouth. “
~ St. Bonaventure
To learn more about St. Bonaventure, see the Catholic Encyclopedia.