PPN Celebrates the “Seraphic Doctor”: San Buenaventura of the Franciscan Order.

PPN Celebrates the “Seraphic Doctor”: San Buenaventura of the Franciscan Order.

The Four Churches Walk from Patronato Pro Niños
Thu, Feb 27, 10am
In the Jardin in front of
the Parroquia, 9:45am
No Reservations needed
350 pesos donation taken onsite.

By Cheryl Young

The Dark Ages in Europe are loosely defined as the 1,000 years after the fall of Rome to the beginning of the Renaissance around the 15th century. While historians debate how “dark” this period really was in terms of intellectual achievement, philosophy was one branch of medieval academia which produced many exceptional scholars.

One such scholar was St Bonaventure (San Buenaventura, ca1221-1274), an Italian Franciscan who studied, taught, and preached in Paris and called St Thomas Aquinas, the renowned Dominican theologian, a close friend. As I delved deeper into this man’s life, I was surprised that several sources believed that he had found his way to God through poison. Why would anyone want to poison a man so respected, learned, and moderate in his views? He had written the officially sanctioned biography of the Franciscan founder, and had been featured in Paradise by Dante. He was awarded the title of “Seraphic Doctor” (a seraph is one of the highest ranking angels), and had written treatises that successfully reconciled the mysticism of his order with the rationalism of the philosopher Aristotle, whose ancient works had recently been rediscovered. It was no mean feat for a conservative theologian. He said, “I do not intend to advocate new opinions, but to reweave the common and approved ones.”

He was described by an admiring writer as “genuinely devoted to the idea of the evangelical life.” However, in a departure from accepted Franciscan doctrine, he advocated that friars should study and learn basic theology to better communicate to their followers: he even wrote a theological “study guide” for their use. At the time, theological training was not necessary for followers of St. Francis. All that was required of a friar was to take vows of poverty, forgo all worldly possessions, and then go into the world to preach, seeking alms only for clothing and food.

Perhaps in those vows we find a poisonous motive. After 17 years of study, he was asked to leave academia and work to reunite the Franciscans. The order was split over the insistence on poverty: Bonaventure sided with those who believed in those original vows. It was a time of unrest and conflict in the order and after his sudden death it splintered further into many factions which were never truly reconciled.

Learn more about religious and art history by taking the Churches Walk on February 27! Patronato Pro Niños volunteers have been enthusiastically conducting walks in San Miguel de Allende for over 25 years to collect donations to fund the work of doctors and dentists who provide medical services to children. PPN is a well-regarded, 50-year-old Mexican nonprofit organization that provides medical, dental, and psychological care to children in San Miguel whose families cannot afford these services. In 2019 there were 9,274 children served: that is more than 750 per month!

All walks are conducted in English. Private walks can be arranged. Contact Christina 415 152 7796. historicalwt@patronatoproninos.org.