Bonaventura, St., one of the most eminent of the scholastic divines of the thirteenth century, called also "the Seraphic Doctor," was born at Bagnarea, Tuscany, in 1221. His family name was Giovanni Fidanza. In 1243 he entered the Franciscan order, and studied at Paris under Alexander de Hales: afterward he taught divinity in the same university, and took his doctor's degree, together with Thomas Aquinas, in 1255. In the following year, upon the death of John of Parma, he was elected general of his order, whereupon he labored to reform its decayed discipline, and defended it warmly against the attacks of Giraldus of Abbeville and William de St. Amour. At a general chapter of the order, held at Pisa, he directed the Minorites every where to exhort the people, in their sermons, to pray to the Virgin and worship her when they heard the sound of the bell after compline. He also first introduced the establishment of religious confraternities, or sodalities of laymen, which he set on foot at Rome in 1270. In 1272 he had the singular privilege conferred upon him of nominating to the popedom, the cardinals being unable to come to any conclusion among themselves, and unanimously agreeing to leave the matter in the hands of Bonaventura, who named Theodore, archdeacon of Liege, known as Pope Gregory X. This pope, in gratitude, made him cardinal-bishop of Albano in 1274. He attended the first sessions of the Council of Lyons, but died before its conclusion, July 15th, 1274. He was canonized by Pope Sixtus IV in 1482. In philosophy, as well as theology, he was pre-eminent in his time. His special aim was to reconcile Aristotle with the Alexandrians. "In his commentary on Lombardus he contracts the sphere of speculation, and studies to employ the principles of Aristotle and the Arabians, not so much for the satisfaction of a minute and idle curiosity, as for the resolution of important questions, and to reconcile opposite opinions, especially in the important inquiries respecting individuation and free-will. Occasionally he rests his arguments rather on the practical destination of man than on theoretical notions-for instance, respecting the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The Supreme Good he affirms to be union with the Deity, by which alone mankind can attain a perception of truth, and the enjoyment of happiness. This leads him to ascribe all knowledge to illumination from on high (Reductio actionum ad Theologiam), which he distinguishes into four species-exterior, inferior, interior, and superior. He defines also six degrees whereby man may approximate the Deity, and refers to these six as many distinct faculties of the soul-an ingenious idea, and copiously detailed, but in a great degree arbitrary and forced (Itinerarium mentis ad Deum). Finding speculation insufficient for the attainment of the Supreme Good, he abandoned himself with all his heart to Mysticism." "In the scholastic theology, Bonaventura ranks after Thomas Aquinas in point of fertility and of speculative acuteness; while, as a mystic, he lacks the independence of the school of St.Victor. His characteristic merits are his ample comprehensiveness, both of thought and feeling, and his imaginative power, which, however, was always united with strict logical faculty. According to his scholastic principle, he set out with the purpose to bring the whole of human knowledge within the sphere of theology (De reductione artium in theologiam)" (Herzog, Real Encyclopedia, ii, 291). The worst feature of Bonaventura's influence was the impulse he gave to Mariolatry (Elliott, Delin. of Romanism, bk. 4:ch. 4:p. 763, Lond. ed. qvo). The beautiful hymn, Recordare sanctce crucis, was written by him; it is given, with a translation, by the Rev. H. Harbaugh, in the Mercersburg Review', 1858, p. 480. Among his other works on systematic theology, the Brevilcquum and Centiloquum are the most important. The former is called by Baumgarten-Crlsius the best manual of systematic theology produced in the Middle Ages. The best edition of it is by Hefele (Tub. 1845). He also wrote many mastico-practical treatises, e.g. De septem itinn. ceternitatis: - Stimulus Amoris: - Incendum Aonris, etc. Neander declares that " his great mind grasped the whole compass of human knowledge as it existed in his time." His writings are collected under the title Opera, Sixti V, Pont. Max., jussu emendata, etc. (Rome, 1588-96, 8 vols. fol.; also Venice, 1751, 13 vols. 4to). Contents, vol. i Principium S. Scripturee; Expositio seu Sermones 33 in Hexaemeron; Expositio in Psalterium, in Ecclesiasten, in Sapientiam et in Threnos Hieremice. Vol. ii Expositio in caput vi S. Matthaei, et in Evang. S. Lucce; Postilla in Evang. S. Johannis et Collationes in eundem. Vol. iii: Sermones de Tempore et de Sanctis. Vols. 4:v: Commentaria in iv libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi.
Vol. vi contains parts 1 and 2 of the Opuscula, viz.:
(1.) De reductione artium ad theolcgiam ; (2.) Breviloquium; (3.) Centiloquium; (4.) Pharetra (5.) Declaratio terminorum theolcgice; (6.) Principium compendiosum in libros Sententiarum; (7.) iv libri Sententiarum carmine digesti; (8.) De iv virtutibus card'nalibus; (9.) De vii donis S. S.; (10.) De iii tern nariis peccatorum; (11.) De resurrectione ad gratiam; (12.) Diceta Salutis; (13.) De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia.
(1.) Soliloqium; (2.) De meditatione vitae Di. N. J. C.; (3.) Libellus meditationum; (4.) De vii gradibus contemplationis; (5.) De v festivitltibus pueri Jesu;
(6.) Oficium de Passione Dominica; (7.) De S. Cruce, laudatio; (8.) Lignuum vite; (9.) Speculum de laudibus B. Marice; (10.) De Corona B. Marice; (11.) De compassione ejusdum; (12.) Philomela passioni Domini aptataper vii horas; (13.) De vii verbis Domini in Cruce; (14.) Psalteriun B. Marice majus; (15.) Id. minus; (16.) In Salutationem angelicam; (17.) In " Salve Regina."
Vol. vii contains part 3 of the Opuscula, viz.:
(1.) De institutione vitae Christiane; (2.) De regimine animce; (3.) Speculum animi; (4.) De exprceceptis; (5.) De gradibus virtutum ; (6.) Itinerarium mentis ad Deum ; (7.) De vii itineribus ceternitatis; (8.) Stimulus Divini amoris; (9.) Parvum bonum, sive incendiun amoris; (10.) Amatorius; (11.) Exercitiorum Spiritualium libellus; (12.) Fascicularius, (13.) Epistolce xxv memoralia complectens; (14.) Confessionale; (15.) De ratone confitendi; (16.) De puritate conscientia ; (17.) De praeparatione Sacerdotis ad Missam; (18.) Expositio Missce; (19.) De vi alis Cherubim; (20.) De vi alis Seraphim.
Vol. viii contains the Opuscula relating to monachism, viz.:
(1.) De triplici statu religiosorum; (2.) Speculum disciplince
(3.) ax passus Novitiorum; (4.) In regulam novitiorum; (5.) De processu religionis; (6.) De contemptu sceculi; (7.) De reformatione mentis; (8.) Alphabeturn boni monachi; (9.) De perfectione vite; (10.) Declaratio regulce minorun; (11.) Circa eandem regulam; (12.) Quare fratres minores preedicent; (13.) De paupertate Christi; (14.) Qtuod Christus et Apostoli nudis pedibus incedebant; (15.) Apologia evangelicce paupertats; (16.) Contra caluminiatorem regulce Franciscance; (17.) Apolg. in eos qui Ord. Min. adversantur; (18.) De nonfrequentandis Qucestlonibus; (19.) Collat. libel. ad Frat. Tolosates (doubtful); (20.) De reformandis Fratribus; (21.) Compendium theologice; (22.) De essentia, invisibilitate, et immensifate EI; (23.) De mystica theologia.
His life was written by Fessler (Berl. 1807).-Neander, Ch. Hist. 4:421; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. i, 356, 365; Neander, Hist. of Dogmas, p. 541, 577 et al.; Cave, Hist. Lit. anno 1255; Dupin, Hist. Eccl. vol. 11, ch. iv; Tennemann, Manual. Hist. Phil. § 265; Landon, Eccles. Dict. ii, 319; Hollenberg, Studien zu Bonaventura (Berlin, 1862, 8vo).