Saint Bonaventure, also known as St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, was an Italian theologian, philosopher, and mystic who lived in the 13th century. He was born in Bagnoregio, Italy in 1217, although some accounts say 1221. He died on July 15th, 1274, in Lyon, France. His parents were Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella.
Saint Bonaventure is considered the patron saint of the Franciscan Order, as well as of Bowel Disorders and Intestinal Diseases. He was a prominent figure in the development of Scholasticism, which sought to reconcile Christian theology with the philosophy of Aristotle. He also played a key role in the spiritual renewal of the Franciscan Order.
Bonaventure fell ill while a boy and, according to his own words, was saved from death by the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi. He joined the Franciscan Order in 1243 and was appointed Minister General of the order in 1257. In this role, he worked to establish a balance between the strict observance of the Franciscan rule and the need to adapt to the changing times. He also worked to combat heresy within the order, particularly the teachings of the Spiritual Franciscans.
Bonaventure was a prolific writer and composed works on theology, philosophy, and mysticism. His most famous work is "The Journey of the Mind to God," which is a guide to contemplative prayer. He also wrote commentaries on the works of Aristotle and the Bible, as well as sermons and hymns.
Saint Bonaventure is said to have received the stigmata, or the wounds of Christ, while he was meditating on the crucifixion. He was also a close friend and advisor to Saint Thomas Aquinas, and the two men shared a deep respect for each other's work, despite their philosophical differences.
During the Council of Lyon in 1274, Bonaventure was appointed to lead the discussions with the representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church. Although the discussions did not lead to a full reconciliation between the two churches, they laid the groundwork for future efforts at ecumenism. His death, at the council, was viewed as the loss of a wise and holy man, full of compassion and virtue, captivating with love all who knew him.
Saint Bonaventure's writings continue to be studied and admired by theologians and philosophers to this day. His life and teachings serve as an inspiration to all those who seek a deeper understanding of God and a closer relationship with Christ. He was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV on April 14th, 1482, and his feast day is celebrated on July 15th.