Born in 1221 in central Italy, St. Bonaventure was given the name "John." As a very young child, St. Francis of Assisi prayed over him to be healed of a serious childhood disease. It was said that St. Francis could intuit peoples’ character; be prophesized about St. Bonaventure’s future greatness. It was St. Francis who coined the expression, O Buona Ventura, which means what "good fortune" he will have. The name stayed with him.
St. Bonaventure entered the Franciscan Order, and after finishing his studies he became close friends with St. Thomas Aquinas while in Paris. For his astute knowledge and vibrant faith, St. Bonaventure is known as a "Doctor of the Church." In addition to theological and philosophical works, St. Bonaventure has left us numerous spiritual treatieses, some of which have been translated into English including the Journey of the Soul to God, Tree of Life, and The Life of Saint Francis.
Although St. Bonaventure was a man of the highest intellectual attainments, he would emphasize that a fool’s love and knowledge of God may be greater than that of a humanly wise man. To reach God, he said, "little attention must be given to reason and great attention to grace, little to books and everything to the gift of God, which is the Holy Spirit." Above all he emphasized charity: "For in truth, a poor and unlearned old woman can love God better than a Doctor of Theology."
St. Bonaventure served as Minister General of the Friars Minor (the Franciscan Order). Bonaventure was nominated as archbishop of York in 1265 by Pope Clement IV, but asked humbly not to be elevated. In 1273, Pope Gregory X obliged him to assume a greater place of honor, that of Bishop-Cardinal of Albano, one of the seven suburb dioceses around Rome. Bonaventure enjoyed special veneration even during his lifetime because of renowned teaching and writing, his preaching of the Word of God, his stainless character, his spiritual power to reconcile opposites, and for the miracles attributed to him.
St. Bonaventure’s Feast Day is celebrated on July 15.