Friday, July 15, 2011

St. Giovanni di Fidanza

Today is the feast of St. Giovanni di Fidanza. He is never called that, actually; he is usually called St. Bonaventura, or some variation of that. According to the story, Bonaventure was very sick as a child, and his parents brought him to St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis took the young Giovanni in his harms and exclaimed, "O buona ventura!" (O good fortune!), and it stuck. We actually don't know where he gets the name; this legend is first attested a few hundred years after Bonaventure's death. We do know, from Bonaventure himself, that his parents did take him as a child to St. Francis because of a serious illness, but the link with his name seems purely apocryphal. It was a very fitting name, though; Bonaventure was indeed Good Fortune for the Franciscan Order, since he was in charge of the Order during its most difficult years, constantly holding it together while it was in danger of breaking apart. He died at the Council of Lyons in 1274; the (unsubstantiated) rumor has always existed that he was poisoned. There were Spiritual Franciscans who thought he had betrayed St. Francis's vision, but no one has ever been named as a likely suspect for it. Possibly the rumor only arose due to the suddenness of his death.

From one of his most popular works:

Therefore he who wishes to ascend to God must, avoiding sin, which deforms nature, exercise the above-mentioned natural powers for regenerating grace, and do this through prayer. He must strive toward purifying justice, and this in intercourse; toward the illumination of knowledge, and this in meditation; toward the perfection of wisdom, and this in contemplation. Now just as no one comes to wisdom save through grace, justice, and knowledge, so none comes to contemplation save through penetrating meditation, holy conversation, and devout prayer. Just as grace is the foundation of the will's rectitude and of the enlightenment of clear and penetrating reason, so, first, we must pray; secondly, we must live holily; thirdly, we must strive toward the reflection of truth and, by our striving, mount step by step until we come to the high mountain where we shall see the God of gods in Sion [Ps., 83, 8].

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.