Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

St Bonaventure

Today is the feast of St Bonaventure, who died whilst attending the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274. Born in 1218 he became a Franciscan, head of the Order, composer of the Second, definitive, Vita of St Francis, and for hisd last year of life was Cardinal Bishop of Albano. There is an illustrated online life of him and introduction to his works here.

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio
St Bonaventure


My interest in him comes includes the fact that he was offered the Archbishopric of York in 1265, but declined it. What might have happened had he accepted and settled in England?

In connection with my work on Bishop Fleming whose personal theology may reflect Bonaventuran themes I learned something more about the Seraphic Doctor, and I need to do more thereupon, as well as for my own devotional interest.

A few years ago I attended an interesting lecture about the issues surrounding St Bonaventure at the Oxford Centre for Franciscan Studies. The speaker's argument was that although some Franciscans tend to see St Bonaventure and his second Vita as taming the spirituality of St Francis and confining it within ecclesiastical respectability, he however made a good case for the view that Bonaventure should be seen as maintaining the Franciscan vision. In his persuasive argument St Bonaventure expressed in scholastic theology the ecstatic ideals and insights of St Francis. To him Bonaventure provided a means whereby Francis'message could become part of the mainstream.

St Bonaventure



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