St. Bonaventure reached heights of spiritual, intellectual and ecclesial achievement as one of the greatest saints of the Middle Ages, but he always remained firmly grounded in humility.
St. Bonaventure was likely born in 1217 in Cività di Bagnoregio, north of Rome. He was named Giovanni after his father and it’s unclear how he came to be known as Bonaventure, which means ‘good fortune.’
As a small child, St. Bonaventure was cured of a serious illness through the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, which possibly influenced his decision to become a Franciscan.
While studying in Paris, St. Bonaventure met another humble religious destined for greatness: St. Thomas Aquinas. Over the course of seven years the two scholars formed a deep friendship.
“For a parallel friendship one must go back to the days of David,” wrote Dominican Father Placid Conway, in Saint Thomas Aquinas of the Order of Preachers (1225-1274): A Biographical Study of the Angelic Doctor. “And it came to pass…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 19:1)
One day St. Thomas and a companion found St. Bonaventure in his cell writing the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Rather than interrupting his work, St. Thomas said of his Franciscan friend, “Let us leave a saint to write about a saint.”
It is believed that Sts. Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas received doctorates on the same day.
Like St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure became one of the greatest thinkers of his time, writing many important philosophical and theological works.
He is known as the Seraphic Doctor because of his deep and ardent love for God. His motto was: “I do not wish to know Thee, except to love Thee,” and “I shall study Thee solely to love Thee!”
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