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Pope speaks on St. Bonaventure, unity of faith and culture

Catholic World News - March 03, 2010

Continuing his series of weekly talks on the great figures of Church history, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about St. Bonaventure (1217- 1274) at his regular Wednesday public audience on March 3. St. Bonaventure, he said, was "a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government."

Born Giovanni da Fidanza, the great saint took the name Bonaventure when he entered the Franciscan order. He was soon recognized for his remarkable intellect, in particular his mastery of the Peter Lombard's Sentences, the standard theological text of that era. His own writings-- which would eventually include the most complete available biography of St. Francis of Assisi-- helped to establish "the harmony between faith and culture" in the 13th century, a time when the Christian world was experiencing tremendous intellectual vitality.

St. Bonaventure was a prime example of the scholar who provides instruction through a life of obvious virtue, the Pope observed: "The Church is enlightened and beautified by the faithfulness to their vocation of these sons and daughters of hers, who not only put the evangelical precepts into practice but, by God's grace, are called to observe the evangelical counsels and thus bear witness - with their poor, chaste and obedient lifestyle - to the fact that the Gospel is a source of joy and perfection."

In 1257 St. Bonaventure was elected minister general of the Franciscan order, which had already grown to include more than 30,000 members in less than half a century since its founding. Later hee was consecrated a bishop and raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Gregory X. The Pope asked St. Bonaventure to coordinate preparations for the Council of Lyons, which was called in a bid to heal the schism between Rome and the Byzantine world. St. Bonaventure participated in the early sessions of that council, but died before its conclusion-- following his great contemporary, St. Thomas Aquinas, who had died on his way to Lyons.

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