Bonaventure was born in Bagnoregio, Tuscany in 1221,the year Saint Anthony arrived in Assisi and when Saint Francis was 38 years old. It is said that he was cured of a serious illness by Saint Francis when he was 4 years old. He entered the Franciscan Order as a young man, and after his novitiate was sent to study under a great teacher ,Alexander of Hales, who greatly admired the talent and virtue of the young religious. But Bonaventure did not only set himself to study, he devoted many hours in contemplating Christ’s suffering. After his ordination he devoted himself with great energy to the salvation of souls. When he was just 27, because his knowledge was so deep and extensive , he was appointed professor of theology at the University of Paris, where St . Thomas Aquinas was also teaching. He was much acclaimed, because he grasped theology with his heart as well as his mind. Saint Thomas once visited him while he was writing the life of Saint Francis. He found Bonaventure raised in ecstasy above the earth. He withdrew quietly saying to his friend ; “Let us leave a saint to write about a saint”. Another time ,Thomas asked Bonaventure from which books he obtained his great knowledge. Bonaventure pointed to the crucifix in his library. In 1257 Bonaventure was unanimously chosen to be Minister General of the Friars Minor. He governed the Order for 18 years and reorganised it into Provinces throughout the world. He drew up guidelines for following Francis’s Rule, but his work of administration did not prevent him from finding time to talk to the simplest brother ,or carry out some of the lowliest duties in the convent. It was he who said that the Angelus bell should be rung daily in all Franciscan churches. All this time he continued to preach and write books of great learning.He always refused promotiou in the church ,until Pope GregoryX obliged him to accept the bishopric of Albano, and the Cardinal’s hat. He was consecrated by the pope himself, who then entrusted to him the direction of the Council of Lyon’s. It was through his efforts at this council that the Eastern Greek churches were united to the church of Rome. However the work of the Council was a great strain on his health and he fell ill after the third session . The end came quickly. The Pope himself administered the last sacraments. With his eyes fixed on the crucifix, Bonaventure died during the night between 14th and 15th of July, 1274 at the age of 53. The pope and all the members of the Council attended the funeral. He was canonised in 1482 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1547. His books are well worth studying ,”The Soul’s journey into God ” : The Tree of Life ” ” The Life of Saint Francis”
Aroused by all things to the love of God, Saint Bonaventure rejoiced in all the works of the Lord’s hands, and from these joy producing manifestations, he rose to their life giving principle and cause. In beautiful things he saw Beauty itself. Through His vestiges imprinted on creation ,he followed his Beloved everywhere, making from all things a ladder by which he could climb up and embrace Him who is utterly desirable.