Bonaventura

1221-1274. “Prince of Mystics” (according to Leo XIII). Born near Viterbo, Italy, and baptized John (“of Fidanza”), he believed that St. Francis's (of Assisi*) intercession rescued him from a dangerous childhood illness. In 1238 or 1243 he entered the Friars Minor, then read arts and theology at Paris, lecturing on Holy Scripture there (1248-55). After some difficulty with the secular doctors and finally by order of Alexander IV, he was awarded the doctorate there for his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard* and the treatise De Paupertate Christi. Though not yet thirty-six, he was elected minister-general of the Friars Minor and preserved the order from division between the “Spirituals” and Observants. Having declined the archbishopric of York (1265), he was compelled to accept the see of Albano (1273) and a cardinalship; and he was responsible for Gregory X's election in 1271. He attended the Council of Lyons* (1274) and contributed to the short-lived reunion with the Greek schismatics. Alexander of Hales,* his mentor at Paris, noted “Adam did not seem to have sinned in Bonaventure.” His works are christocentric, saturated with Scripture, and learned in the Fathers. Itinerarium mentis in Deum emphasizes the folly of human wisdom when compared with the illumination God waits to give the Christian. Bonaventura's mysticism is founded on dogmatic and moral theology, believing contemplative prayer to be no extraordinary grace. Union with God turns on wanting to pay the price. Holding simple sanctity high, he also emphasizes the gift of knowledge, and rejects the doctrine of the immaculate conception.

See E. Gilson, La Philosophie de Saint Bonaventure (in études de Philosophie Médiévale, iv) (1924; ET 1938).