Thursday, January 10, 2013

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure at the Council of Lyon
St. Bonaventure gets my vote for coolest name, so future children or pets should be weary. He was actually baptized as John, but the name change occurred sometime in his childhood before he joined the Franciscans and went to study at the University of Paris. At this time there were many divisions among Franciscans, and Bonaventure worked to bring more uniformity to the order by following the old Rule and steering the order in an intellectual course.  In 1260, he wrote on the life of St. Francis, which became the standard biography. In 1246, he founded the Society of the Gonfalone, one of the earliest confraternities of the Church. He wrote extensively on philosophy and theology, and by the age of 27, he was already a highly respected scholar.

In 1273, Bonaventure was rather unwillingly made cardinal-bishop of Albano. It is said that when he was brought his cardinal’s hat, he was busy washing dishes and instructed the messengers to hang the hat on a nearby bush so that anyone who wanted it could take it. His promotion to cardinal was done partly so he could help run the Fourteenth Ecumenical Council in Lyon, which took place the following year. He was specially charged with discussing the schism with the Greek representatives. Bonaventure died while the council was still in session, and it suspected that he was poisoned. 

He was declared a saint in 1482 and made a Doctor of the Church in 1557.In 1562, his shrine was plundered by Huguenots, who publicly burned his urn. His head was preserved by the superior of the order, but it disappeared during the French Revolution and has not been found.

St. Bonaventure's writings sound really interesting but, like many of the Doctors of the Church, intimidating. I want to read more of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, but I feel inadequately rooted in philosophy to just delve in. I need the Summa for Kids edition. Hopefully, I can start slowing working my way through the rich academia of the faith. I like knowing that my religion has such a strong, deep intellectual history. I will never run out of things to learn.

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