Who is St Bonaventure?

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), bishop and doctor of the Church, was a medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. According to legend, he became gravely ill as an infant and his mother took him to St. Francis to pray for his recovery. St. Francis had a vision of the child’s future greatness and exclaimed, “O buona ventura!” – O, good fortune! – and he was thenceforth known as Bonaventure.

St. Bonaventure entered the Franciscans at age 22, studied in Paris alongside St. Thomas Aquinas, and became general of his order of Franciscans at age 35. Pope Gregory X made him a cardinal and bishop of Albano (today part of Italy) and insisted on his presence at the Council of Lyon in 1274, where he contributed to efforts to unite the Greek and Latin Churches. Bonaventure died suddenly during the council. He was canonized in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. St. Bonaventure’s feast is celebrated on July 15.

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.