ST. BONAVENTURE, PATRON SAINT OF ENVERGA UNIVERSITY
Dr. Saint Bonaventure (c. 1217-74) was a Christian theologian and minister general of the Franciscans. He is considered one of the greatest scholastic thinkers of medieval Europe and is called the Seraphic Doctor because of his mystical holiness.
St. Bonaventure whose real name is Giovanni di Fidanza was born in Bagnoregio near Viterbo, Italy, the son of John of Fidanza and Maria Ritella. He went to the University of Paris in 1235 where he studied under Alexander of Hayler and John of Le Rochelle. He joined the Franciscans in 1243 taking the name Bonaventure and progressing in his theological studies to become a master (professor) of theology in 1254.
During this period he wrote a commentary on the Scriptures, the Breviloquium, and like his contemporary Thomas Aquinas worked to integrate Aristotelian insights into the Augustinian tradition. Bonaventure accepted much of Aristotle’s scientific philosophy, but he rejected what he knew of Aristotle’s metaphysics as insufficient because the light of the Christian faith did not guide Aristotle.
He took the doctrine of the illumination of the human mind (the soul) by the divine, a means of identifying truth or falsity of judgment, from St. Augustine. His Journey of the Mind to God (1259) and his short mystical treatises reflected his concern with the way the soul recognizes and unites with God.
Noted for his learning and good judgment, Bonaventure was elected minister general (superior) of the Franciscans in 1257 at a time when the order was divided over how strictly it could, as an order, observe St. Francis’ commitment to poverty. He healed the division and thus came to be regarded as the order’s second founder. He wrote the official Life of St. Francis of Assisi in 1263, traveled, and preached the Franciscan way of life.
Pope Gregory X (1271-76) made him cardinal archbishop of Albano in May 1273. Bonaventure assisted in the preparations for a council at Lyons called to repair the breach with the Eastern Church. He died at Lyons on July 15, 1274.
Pope Sixtus IV declared Bonaventure a saint in 1482, and in 1587 or 1588 Pope Sixtus V designated him a Doctor of the Church. St. Bonaventure’s feast day is July 15. He was chosen to be the patron saint of the University because of his saintly life, divine teachings, and inspiring academic achievements, that students can emulate as a role model.