He was born at Bagnoregio in Latium, not far from Viterbo. Almost nothing is known of his childhood, other than the names of his parents, Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria Ritella.
He entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris, possibly under Alexander of Hales, and certainly under Alexander's successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253 he held the Franciscan chair at Paris and was proceeded as Master of Theology. Unfortunately for Bonaventure, a dispute between seculars and mendicants delayed his reception as Master until 1257, where his degree was taken in company with Thomas Aquinas. Three years earlier his fame had earned him the position of lecturer on the The Four Books of Sentences—a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century—and in 1255 he received the degree of master, the medieval equivalent of doctor.
After having successfully defended his order against the reproaches of the anti-mendicant party, he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order. On 24 November 1265, he was selected for the post of Archbishop of York; however, he was never consecrated and resigned the appointment in October 1266. It was by his order that Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar himself, was interdicted from lecturing at Oxford and compelled to put himself under the surveillance of the order at Paris.
Bonaventure denied the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and championed the knowledge given by God to Christians, as being far superior to all forms of mere human wisdom.
Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and insisted on his presence at the great Council of Lyon in 1274. There, after his significant contributions led to a union of the Greek and Latin churches, Bonaventure died suddenly and in suspicious circumstances. The Catholic Encyclopedia has citations which suggest he was poisoned. The only extant relic of the saint is the arm and hand with which he wrote his Commentary on the Sentences, which is now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St. Nicholas.
Propers for Bonaventure - Bishop and Doctor.
O GOD, who didst make Bonaventure to shine and to burn as a Bishop and Doctor in thy Church; Grant that we may be so inwardly touched by his heavenly doctrine, that we may be filled with the sweetness of the love that dwelt in him; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - 2 Timothy 4:1-8
The Gospel - St Matthew 5:13-20
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