Saint Bonaventura da Bagnoregio is the philosopher of love.
“A good, affable, pious and merciful man, full of virtue, loved by God and by men … God had given him such grace, that all those who saw him were pervaded by a love that the heart could not conceal”
The end of man’s life is the love of God. Saint Bonaventura da Bagnoregio is the philosopher of love not only because he saw in the human soul an infinite tendency that pushes it towards the love of God, but also for that respect with which one turns to creation, understood as an expression of God.
And this is the ultimate and most profound faithfulness to the spirit of Franciscan mysticism. He himself tells that as a child he fell ill with a disease that was leading him towards death, but then he was healed by Saint Francis himself who, making a sign of Cross on him, pronounced these words: “Bona ventura” which means ‘Good luck’. He was healed and he was called Bonaventura ever afterwards.
Giovanni Fidanza was his actual name. Saint Bonaventura was born in Bagnoregio, near Viterbo, on an uncertain date that many place in 1218 and that, however, is between 1217 and 1221. He had the same name of his father, who was a doctor.
He studied in Paris and, during his stay in France, he entered the Order of Friars Minor. He taught theology at the University of Paris and formed a most highly reputed school around him.
In February 1257 he was elected Minister General of the Order, a post he held until 1274, the year of his death, during which he produced admirable essays on wisdom, prudence, marked equilibrium, in a difficult period of settlement of the Order.
Some of the most famous works of the Franciscan master date back to this period: the Quaestiones disputatae de scientia Christi, the Quaestiones disputatae de mysterio Trinitatis, the Breviloquium, the De reductione artium ad theologiam, as well as numerous biblical commentaries.
He traveled a lot for the needs of the Order and Pontifical assignments. In 1273 Bonaventura was elected cardinal and bishop of Albano Laziale. From November 1273 he waited for the presidency of the preparatory works and then for the celebration of the Ecumenical Council of Lyon (May 7 – July 17, 1274). He died on July 15, two days before the end of the Council.
He was canonized by Sixtus IV in 1482. Pope Sixtus V, on March 14, 1588, named him “inter praecipuos et primarios” doctor of the Latin Church. St. Bonaventure was called an occult doctor. He wrote numerous works of theological and mystical importance, and the “Legenda maior“, official biography of St. Francis, inspired by Giotto for the cycle of the Stories of St. Francis.
The philosophy of San Bonaventura is influenced by a multiplicity of traditions, which include both the thought of Aristotle and that of St. Augustine. In this journey – “Itinerarium mentis in Deum“, things are presented as signs of God’s love and the task of man is to be able to interpret them.
Everything from thought to nature (steps to reach God) finds its origin and meaning only within God. And this is the ultimate and most profound fidelity to the spirit of Franciscan mysticism.