Bonaventure, John Fidauza

, a celebrated doctor, cardinal, and saint of the church of Rome, was born at Bagnarea in Tuscany, 1221. He was admitted into the | order of St. Francis, about 1243; and studied divinity at the university of Paris under the celebrated Alexander de Hales, with so much success, that at the end of seven years he was thought worthy to read public lectures upon the Sentences. He was created doctor in 1255 along with St. Thomas Aquinas, and the year after appointed general of his order, in which office he governed with so much zeal and prudence, that he perfectly restored the discipline of it, which had been greatly neglected. Pope Clement IV. nominated him to the archbishopric of York in England; but Bonaventure disinterestedly refused it. After the death of Clement the see of Rome lay vacant almost three years, and the cardinals not being able to agree among themselves who should be pope, came at length to a most solemn engagement, to leave the choice to Bonaventure; and to elect whoever he should name, though it should be even himself, which, from his modest character, was not very probable. Accordingly, he named Theobald, archdeacon of Liege, who was at that time in the Holy land, and who took the title of Gregory X. By this pope he was made a cardinal and bishop of Albano; and appointed to assist at a general council, which was held at Lyons soon after. He died there in 1274, and was magnificently and honourably conducted to his grave; the pope and whole council attending, and the cardinal Peter of Tarantais, afterwards pope Innocent V. making his funeral oration. Sixtus IV. canonized him in 1482. He. has had the good fortune to be almost equally praised by popish and protestant writers, Bellarmine has pronounced Bonaventure a person dear to God and men; and Luther calls him “vir prtestantissimus,” a most excellent man. His works were printed at Rome in 1588, in 8 vols. folio. Excepting his commentary upon the master of the Sentences, they are chiefly on pious and mystical subjects, and have gained him the name of the Seraphic doctor. Brucker gives us the following account of his method of philosophizing, from his treatise “De reductione Artium ad Theologiam;” on the “application of Learning to Theology:” Human knowledge he divides into three branches, logical, physical and moral. Each of these he considers as the effect of supernatural illumination, and as communicated to men through the medium of the holy scriptures. The whole doctrine of scripture he reduces to three heads; that which respects the eternal generation and incarnation of Christ, the study | of which is the peculiar province of the doctors of the church; that which concerns the conduct of life, which is the subject of preaching; and that which relates to the union of the soul with God, which is peculiar to the monastic and contemplative life. Physical knowledge he applies to the doctrine of scripture emblematically. For example, the production of the idea of any sensible object from its archetype, is a type of the generation of the Logos; the right exercise of the senses typifies the virtuous conduct of life; and the pleasure derived from the senses represents the union of the soul with God. In like manner, logical philosophy furnishes an emblem of the eternal generation and the incarnation of Christ: a word conceived in the mind resembling the eternal generation; its expression in vocal sounds, the incarnation. Thus the multiform wisdom of God, according to this mystical writer, lies concealed through all nature; and all human knowledge may, by the help of allegory and analogy, be spiritualised and transferred to theology. How wide a door this method of philosophising opens to the absurdities of mysticism the reader will easily perceive from this specimen. 1

1

Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Dupin. Cave, vol. II. Fabric. Libl. Lat. Med. Brucker. Fielieri Theatrum. —Saxii Onomasticon.