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BONAVENTURE


650


BONAVENTURE


of St. Clare and of St. Anthony, convoked a general chapter of the order of Pisa at which his newly com- posed life of St. Francis was officially approved as the standard biography of the saint to the exclusion of all others. At this chapter of 1263, Bonaventure fixed the limits of the different provinces of the order and, among other ordinances, prescribed that at nightfall a bell should be rung in honoiu- of the An- nunciation, a pious practice from which the Angelas seems to have originated. There are no grounds, however, for the assertion that Bonaventure in this chapter prescribed the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the order. In 1264, at the earnest request of Cardinal Cajetan. Bona- venture consented to resume the direction of the Poor Clares which the Chapter of Pisa had entirely re- nounced the year before. He required the Clares, however, to acknowledge occasionally in \\Titing that the favours tendered them by the Friars were voluntarj' acts of charity not arising from any ob- ligation whatsoever. It is said that Pope Urban IV acted at Bonaventure's suggestion in attempting to establish uniformity of observance throughout all the monasteries of Clares. About this time (1264) Bonaventure founded at Rome the Society of the Gonfalone in honour of the Blessed Virgin which, if not the first confraternity instituted in the Church, as some have claimed, was certainly one of the earliest. In 1265 Clement IV, by a Bull dated 23 No- vember, nominated Bonaventure to the vacant Archbishopric of York, but the saint, in keeping with his singular humility, steadfastly refused this honour and the pope yielded.

In 1266 Bonaventure convened a general chapter in Paris at which, besides other enactments, it was decreed that all the "legends" of St. Francis WTitten before that of Bonaventure should be forthwith destroyed, just as the Chapter of Narbonne had in 1260 ordered the destruction of all constitutions before those then enacted. This decree has excited much hostile criticism. Some would fain see in it a deliberate attempt on Bonaventure's part to close the primitive sources of Franciscan history, to sup- press the real Francis, and substitute a counterfeit in his stead. Others, however, regard the decree in question as a purely liturgical ordinance intended to secure uniformity in the choir "legends". Be- tween these two conflicting opinions the truth seems to be that this edict was nothing more than anothei' heroic attempt to wipe out the old quarrels and start afresh. One cannot but regret the circumstances of this decree, but when it is recalled that the appeal of the contending parties was ever to the words and actions of St. Francis as recorded in the earlier " legends ", it would be unjust to accuse the chapter of "literary vandalism" in seeking to proscribe the latter. We have no details of Bonaventure's life between 1266 and 1269. In the latter year he con- voked his fourth general chapter at Assisi, in which it was enacted that a Mass be sung everj- Saturday throughout the order in honour of the Blessed Virgin, not, however, in honour of her Immaculate Concep- tion as Wadding among others has erroneously stated. It was probably soon after this chapter that Bonaventure composed his "Apologia pauperum", in which he silences Gerard of Abbeville who by means of an anonjTiious libel had revived the old university feud against the Friars. Two years later, Bonaventiu'e was mainly instrumental in reconciling the differences among the cardinals assembled at Viterbo to elect a successor to Clement IV, who had died nearly tliree years before; it was on Bonaventure's advice that, 1 September, 1271, they unanimously chose Theobald Visconti of Piacenza who took the title of Gregory X. That the cardinals seriously authorized Bonaventure to nominate himself, as some A\Titers aver, is most improbable. Nor is there


any truth in the popular story that Bonaventure on arriving at Viterbo advised the citizens to lock up the cardinals with a view to hastening the election. In 1272 Bonaventure for the second time convened a general chapter at Pisa in which, apart from general enactments to further regular observances, new decrees were issued respecting the direction of the Poor Clares, and a solemn anniversary was instituted on 25 August in memorj- of St. Louis. This was the first step towards the canonization of the holj' king, who liad been a special friend of Bonaventure, and at whose request Bonaventure composed his " Office of the Passion ". On 23 June, 1273, Bonaventure, much against his will, was created Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, by Gregorj' X. It is said that the pope's envoys who brought him the cardinal's hat found the saint washing dishes outside a convent near Florence and were requested by liim to hang it on a tree nearby until his hands were free to take it. Bonaventure continued to govern the Order of Friars Minor until 20 May, 1274, when at the General Chapter of Lyons, Jerome of Ascoli, afterwards Nicholas IV.was elected to succeed him. Jleanwhile Bonaventure had been charged by Gregorj' X to pre- pare the questions to be discussed at the Foiu'teentli Oecumenical Council, which opened at Lyons 7 Mav, 1274.

The pope himself presided at the council, but he confided the direction of its deliberations to Bona- venture, especially charging him to confer with the Greeks on the points relating to the abjuration of their schism. It was largely due to Bonaventure's efforts and to those of the Friars whom he had sent to Constantinople, that the Greeks accepted the union effected 6 July, 1274. Bonaventure twice addressed the assembled Fathers, on 18 May, during a session of the Council, when he preached on Baruch, v, 5, and on 29 Jmie, during pontifical Mass cele- brated by the pope. While the council was still in session, Bonaventure died, Sunday, 15 July, 1274. The exact cause of his death is unkno'mi, but if we may credit the clu-onicle of Peregrinus of Bologna, Bonaventure's secretary, which has recently (1905) been recovered and edited, the saint was poisoned. He was buried on the evening following his death in the church of the Friars Minor at Lyons, being honoured ^ith a splendid funeral which was attended by the pope, the King of Aragon, the cardinals, and the other memljers of the council. The funeral oration was delivered by Pietro di Tarantasia, O.P., Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, afterwards Innocent V, and on the following day during the fifth session of the council, Gregorj- X spoke of the irreparable loss the Church had sustained by the death of Bona- venture, and commanded all prelates and priests throughout the whole world to celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul.

Bonaventure enjoyed especial veneration even during his lifetime because of his stainless character and of the miracles attributed to him. It was .\lex- ander of Hales who said that Bonaventure seemed to have escaped the curse of Adam's sin. And the storj' of St. Thomas visitino; Bonaventure's cell while the latter was wTiting tlie life of St. Francis, and finding him in an ecstasy is well known. "Let us leave a saint to work for a saint ", said the Angelic Doctor as he withdrew. When, in 1434, Bona- venture's remains were translated to the new church erected at Lyons in honour of St. Francis, his head was found in a perfect state of preservation, the tongue being as red as in life. This miracle not only moved the people of Lyons to choose Bonaventure as their special patron, but also gave a great impetus to the process of his canonization. Dante, â– nTiting long before, had given expression to the popular mind by placing Bonaventure among the saints in his Par- adiso ", and no canonization was evermore ardently