Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

July 15 | The Pursuit of Excellence

Saint Bonaventure

A.D. 1221–1274

If you told me that you wanted to become a great basketball player, I’d tell you to learn everything you can about Michael Jordan. 

If you told me that you wanted to become a great golfer, I would tell you to study Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Read books, watch videos, research their training techniques. If you want to be a great violinist, study other great violinists. If you want to be a great artist, study other great artists. 

And of course this same principle applies to those of us who want to become great Catholics. The spiritual life is a long and difficult journey, and we are all pilgrims on this path. There are many men and women who have gone before us who are willing to serve as our guides as we make this journey. 

Saint Bonaventure became a great Catholic through a lifelong study of the saints, including a few he knew personally.

Bonaventure was born under a different name in Italy in 1221. As a child, he became extremely ill, but was healed through the prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi. From then on, he went by the name of Bonaventure, meaning “Good Fortune.” 

He was also inspired to model his life after Francis and become a Franciscan. Bonaventure rose quickly through the Order, becoming the Minister General—a position Francis had also once held. He led the way Francis did: with humility, poverty, and love for the poor. Bonaventure also wrote the official biography of Saint Francis, still popular today, titled Legenda Major.

While studying at the University of Paris, Bonaventure also became a close friend of Thomas Aquinas. The two had very different ways of thinking—Bonaventure was deeply mystical, while Aquinas was focused on logic—and yet they learned deeply from each other.

But most of Bonaventure’s teachers lived long before him. He studied the Church Fathers and saints deeply. 

And of course, in his own way, he devoted all his studies to becoming more like Jesus. He once wrote: “In all your deeds and words you should look upon this Jesus as your model. Do so whether you are walking or keeping silence, or speaking, whether you are alone or with others. He is perfect, and thus you will be not only irreprehensible, but praiseworthy.”

Saint Bonaventure became a Doctor of the Church by studying the greats. Do you want to be one of the greats? Do you want to be a saint? That requires studying those who have come before you.

Whom will you study?


I will learn from the saints.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Feast Day: July 15

Feast Day Shared By: Saint Pompilio M. Pirotti

Patron Saint of: Bowel Disorders and Lyon (France)

Also Known As: The Seraphic Doctor

Canonized: April 14, 1482

Canonized By: Pope Sixtus IV

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