Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

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Today's readings | Saint of the Day

Saint Bonaventure was born in central Italy in 1221. As a boy, he was cured of a serious illness through the prayers of St. Francis. St. Francis was an inspiration to Bonaventure and because of that, Bonaventure entered the Franciscan order and later became a professor of theology at the university in Paris. He later became Minister General of the Franciscan order was made Cardinal-Bishop of Albano. He died at the Council of Lyons in 1274.

Bonaventure was a Franciscan, theologian, and doctor of the Church; a learned and holy man. In fact, he was known for his ability to unite theology and spirituality. He was a great mystic while remaining an active teacher and preacher, all of which shows the best of the Franciscan order.

Today's Gospel says that no disciple is above his teacher. Bonaventure was ever mindful of this, and took great inspiration from his teacher, St. Francis. The inspiration of Francis was what led him to study philosophy and theology, and to enter the Franciscan order. In Bonaventure's writings, we learn that he had many other teachers as well. This comes from his writing, Journey of the Mind to God:

Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strengthy of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

So Bonaventure had many teachers: St. Francis, St. Philip, St. Paul, and even King David the Psalmist. And in his pursuit of study and holiness he strove to become as much like them as he could. The example we receive from him is to find who our teachers may be. Who is it who has instructed us in wisdom and holiness? Who has led us closer to Christ? Who has taught us to pray in our bad times as well as our good times? These people have been teachers to us. They may be parents, loved ones, teachers, friends, co-workers, priests, deacons, or catechists. Whoever they were, Bonaventure would have us become like them, so that others might grow in the ways that we have and become God's holy people.