Monday, July 15 is the feast day of St. Bonaventure. A Doctor of the Church and a Franciscan Friar, St. Bonaventure had an eventful life. He was a theologian and a philosopher from Bagnoregio (Italy). Born in 1221, he died on July 15, 1274 in Lyons (France). His full Christian name was Giovanni di Fidanza. A mystery arises surrounding Giovanni’s name change to Bonaventure. We have no definitive solution to this query, but we do have a legend that emphasizes Franciscan continuity.
St. Francis of Assisi
It is said that when Giovanni di Fidanza was a baby he was very sick. Desparate to save their child, Giovanni’s parents brought him to Francis of Assisi who uttered the exclamation, “O buona ventura” or “Oh, good fortune.” Thus cured through the interecession of Francis of Assisi, Giovanni became Bonaventure.
Although the above story cannot be proved, it works very well on an inspirational level. The Conventual Franciscans today do their best to reflect the Franciscan way of life in everything that they do. They refer to Francis and all other friars not as a historical figures from the near or distant past, but as brothers who are alive and with God today. This sense of connection through time strongly suggests a respect for history. By remembering the past, Franciscans try to learn from it, always keeping in mind their vocation to serve God by serving their communities.