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St. Bonaventure of Bagnoreggio

Homily for the Feast of St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoreggio

St. Bonaventure, is known as "the seraphic doctor" because of his burning love for God. As a priest, St. Bonaventure was a great preacher who inspired people to share his love for God. He was also great scholar with a subtle mind who wrote extensively and was able to use reason to expose sophistry and refute erroneous opinions. St. Bonaventure had a brilliant mind which was refined by a superb education. He understood the message of the Gospel which enjoined him to used his scholarship and his education to enlighten the world

Unlike the Gnostics of yesterday and today, who believe that you can only find enlightenment by gaining access to some secret knowledge, Christ revealed his teaching to all. It is the humble who accept it. St. Bonaventure taught that the key to unlocking the treasure of the grace Christ offers is self-surrender. Whereas, worldly wisdom, pride and supposed cleverness get in the way of a relationship with God.

St. Bonaventure said “If there is anyone who is not enlightened by this sublime magnificence of created things, he is blind. If there is anyone who, seeing all these works of God, does not praise Him, he is dumb; if there is anyone who, from so many signs, cannot perceive God, that man is foolish.” He also said “In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known, God Himself is hidden within.”

Bonaventure was born in Tuscany circa 1221 and given the name Giovanni. According to legend, when he was about four years old he had a severe illness. The doctors who treated him couldn’t do anything for him and he was dying. In desperation his mother brought him to St. Francis of Assisi who was preaching in the area. St. Francis prayed over him and he was immediately healed. St. Francis also sensed his future greatness and prophesied "O Buona ventura" (Oh blessed things to come!) So when he entered the Franciscan Order, he was given the name Bonaventure.

At the age of thirty-five, he became the General of the Franciscan. He’s considered the second founder of the Franciscan Order. St. Bonaventure was known for his cheerfulness. This was a fruit of his inner peace. He himself said “A spiritual joy is the greatest sign of the divine grace dwelling in a soul.” He was chosen to be Bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X. Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence is currently in this area. When the papal envoys found him to give him the cardinal’s hat, St. Bonaventure was at a monastery washing dishes. Since his hands were full of grease, he asked them to leave it hanging on a tree until his hands were free to take it.

He died suddenly during the night of July 14-15, 1274, during the Council of Lyons. His secretary believed he had been poisoned. He was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1482.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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