Triumphant Jerusalem’s sempiternal glory and the never withering crowns of the Saints, most happily reigning with Christ Holy Mother Church admiring these with joy, militant upon this earth, truly hastening to the same crown of justice, does not cease to preach that God is wonderful in His Saints. Nor truly do they alone celebrate with exceptional praises the distinguished victories and the very bright merits of the Saints, but the same Saints, whom God wonderfully honors, She Herself also piously venerates and cares for, established (as She is) upon their preaching and salutary docrine, founded upon their blood, instructed by their illustrious works of charity and their example, She is helped each day by their fervent prayers before God. Wherefore She greatly studies those things due to that celestial Hierarchy, where all are ordered in perfect charity, to conform Herself to that norm and image, indeed in as much as She is allowed in the exile of this passing world. For just as there are many mansions in that great house of the greatest Head of a household, heaping with all good things, and just as those blessed souls enjoy a certain wonderful variegated beatitude of one glory, so the Catholic Church, which is the effigy of that one celestial, arranged (as She is) as a battleline in a military camp, (and) having been illumined by a divine light, acknowleges and distinguishes those sacred orders in the veneration that must be exhibited to the Saints of God. And so while She praises the glorious chorus of Apostles, the laudible number of Prophets, the army of strongest Martyrs and offers honors to the other Saints in their place and order with due ceremony, in one spirit of charity and in a similar pious affection of devotion does She exult manifoldly. Truly among those most blessed choirs of Saints, whose memory is celebrated by all the faithful with a merited religious cult, there shines forth in distinguished splendor the order of holy Doctors eloquently ennumerated by Paul the Apostle, when he said, “And He gave some indeed as Apostles, others however as Prophets, others truly as Evangelists, others however as Pastors and Doctors,” whom He constituted vigorous and faithful cultivators and workers in His vinyeard, “for the work of ministry, for the edification of the Body of Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:12) These are those, concerning whom divine Wisdom shouts: “They who make Me shine forth will have eternal life.” (Eccli. 24:31). Concerning these the Angel spoke in the presence of Daniel: “Moreover they who are learned, will shine like the splendor of the firmament, and they who train many unto justice, will be as stars for perpetual eternities” (Dan. 12:13) Finally these the Savior Himself, Christ the Lord, decorates with that distinguishing eulogy: “He who does these things and teaches them, will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 5:19) Since however at all times the study and doctrine of the sacred Doctors has been useful and salutary in the Church of God, this fact itself demonstrates that it is greatly fruitful and planely necessary, when, with the furor of the horibile name of christian persecutors repressed, in the very peace of the Church there were roused up more vehemently the wars of heresy. For then the traps and fallacies of the heretics, who, with the devil instigating, did not discontinue to overseed tares in the field of the Lord, by the care and diligence of the Doctors in detecting, both the pestiferous and detestible errores were cut off by the sword of the spirit, and with the holy Doctors as attendants, the falsehood was layed low by the strength of catholic truth. Wherefore by every right are the holy Doctors designated in the Church with the name of the stars Hyades, who, in the very frigid winter and with the long nights of infidelity completed and the storm of persecution calmed, they then shone more brightly upon holy Church, after the sun of truth grew warm among the hearts of the faithful, and as the year opened truly more lucidly with new faith.
- 1. Truly already among these, whom the great Lord willed to fill with a spirit of intelligence, and whom each one has sent forth the utterance of his wisdom like a shower upon the Church of God, is St. Bonaventure numbered, as a Confessor, a Pontiff, and a exceptional Doctor in the same Catholic Church, he whom Our predecessor, Pope Sixtus IV, of happy remembrance, on account of the admirable sanctity of his life and very excellent doctrine inscribed among the number of the Saints.
- 2. For having been born at Bagnoregio in Tuscany, so that he might satisfy the pious vow of his mother, he entered as an adolescent into the Religion of St. Francis, by means of whose still recent footsteps the new soldier of Christ progressing humbly and constantly, drank the most healthful observance of regular norms with such ardor of spirit and avidity of heart, that there appeard in him the highest sanctity, and with innocence and chastity of life, holy humility, patience, meekness, disdain of earthly things, desire for those heavenly, he was an example to and the admiration of all. Inflammed in such great sweetness and fervor of divine love, his spirit was so rapt in God, that already as one introduced into the wine cellar of the Spouse and drunk with the best wine of charity, he seemed to gaze everywhere upon Jesus Christ Crucified and Suffering, and to dwell in His wounds. Truly to this exceptional holiness of life did this man of God join the great praise of outstanding doctrine, with God so disposing, so that for His glory and the utility of the Church, he would not only make very great progress in example, but in word and erudition. And so when in the study of the Sacred Letters, the reading of the holy Fathers and in the very necessary disicipline of scholastic theology, having been employed most diligently by Alexander of Hales, the distinguished theologian of that era, for a brief space of time, with the goodness of surpassing genius, by assiduous labor, and what is chief of all, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who molded him on all sides as a golden vessel for a chosen honor, he made such progress and arrived at such perfection of doctrine, that decorated in solemn custom with the distinctions of a Master in Theology in the frequented lecture hall of Paris, he taught sacred theology publicly in the same place.
- 3. Truly did he attain such great praise in the gift of interpreting and in the science of all theology, that the most learned men admired his doctrine and erudition. And indeed there are extant many, moving and very bright writings of this holy man, which still are of great utility to the Church and are not mediocre, by the benifice of God, everyone of which both erudite men, of Our age and ages past, have read with much fruit and very entirely approved, so great was he in theology, that they delcare him sufficient. For he left those monuments of his divine genius to those who would come after him, by which questions, very difficult and involuted with many obscurities, are explained methodically and in order, straightforwardly and lucidly, with a great bounty of the best arguments, the truth of the Catholic Faith is illustrated, pernicious errors and profane heresies are overthrown, and the pious minds of the faithful are admirably inflammed to the love of God and the desire of the celestial fatherland. For there was in St. Bonaventure something preeminent and unique, so that he stood out not only in subtlety of arguing, in facility of teaching, in cleverness of defining, but he excelled in a certain divine strength of thoroughly stirring up souls. For in writing with the greatest erudition he so conjoined an equal ardor of piety, that he would move the reader by teaching and it would sink into the recesses of the soul, and then he would prick the heart with certain seraphic stings and it would pour forth with a wonderful sweetness of devotion; admiring which grace poured out upon his mouth and pen, Our precedessor the Pontiff Sixtus IV, had no doubts in saying, that the Holy Spirit seemed to have spoken in him.
- 4. When therefore to the faithful servant so many and very bright talents have been entrusted by the Lord, that he increases these by exercising them for the utility of his brothers and by buying the treasures of heavenly grace, by divine counsel and with the greatest consent of his whole Order he was made, at Rome, the seventh Minister General after blessed Francis; in which duty of office he not only exhibited prudence, vigilence, and sollicitude, but he burned up with such ardor of fraternal charity and slaved for his brothers with such a self-abasement (demissio) of christian humility, that there was acknowledged in him that saying of the Lord: “Let him who is greater among you, be as your servant.” (Mt. 20:26)
- 5. Rather even Our Predecessor of pious memory, Pope Clement IV, who loved this holy man intensively and was delighted by his wonderful doctrine, obtained for him the distinguished Archepiscopate of York, so that so excellening in virtue and prudence he might run about in a broader field for the utility of the many. He truly, since he could not suffer to tear himself from the embrace of seraphic poverty, modestly and humbly, refused the offered dignity.
- 6. Moreover when Gregory X, the Supreme Pontiff, on account of the most grave situation of the Christian republic had proclaimed the General Council of Lyons, and searched eagerly for men outstanding in sanctity, doctrine and wisdom, whose strong and faithful works he would use for managing and arranging of this greatest matter, he chose first of all two of the clearest lights of that age from the two most flourishing Orders, of Preachers and of Minors, Saints Thomas and Bonaventure, whom he commanded to come in person. But when the other had fallen sick on his journey and had happily flown forth to the crown of glory, St. Bonaventure, having arrived at Lyons, was greeted most curteously by the Roman Pontiff, Gregory, who used to repose thus in his virtue and wisdom, to determine properly the parts of directing and administering the Council to be assigned especially to him. For which reason from the public utility and necessity of the Church, so that he would not only take part in the things of the Council, but preside over them, he decided to place the burning and shining light upon the highest candlestick, so that it would greatly brighten the house of God.
- 7. And so he immediately elected St. Bonaventure seeking no honors, but rather fleeing them, and indeed submitting to the Vicar of Christ and not refusing to undertake any labors for the Church just as in a theatre of the whole world he had (already) elected him to the Sacred College of Cardinals and to the order of Bishops; for he appointed him to the Church of Alba, the honor of which was accustomed to be given to the older Cardinal presbyters. He, who bore the fullest dignity, contributed at once to the glory of God and to utility of the Church. For indeed in the most ardous matters of the Council he performed the most uncommon tasks, defended the Catholic Faith most constantly, refuted depraved opinions most sharply, and by whose patience, doctrine, sanctity, and orations, the pastoral sollicitude of the Pontiff Gregory was so greatly aided, that with the disagreement of the schismatics removed by the mercy of God, Michael Palaeologus, the Emperor of the Greeks, and the oriental nations returned to the obedience, unity, and communion of the Apostolic See; and at last it was worthy to have him, whom in Greek they call Eutychius.
- 8. Therefore deservedly, when a little before in the same Council the strongest athlete of Christ had migrated forth from the pilgrimage of this life to the celestial fatherland, all grieved over his death, all deplored the common loss, all decorated his burial with tears and praises, but one before all others most truly celebrated the most holy man’s life conducted most uprightly his most proven morals, his very many labors undertaken for the Church, and his doctrine, esteemed in that Council itself with distinguished praise. This man was Peter, Cardinal of Tarantasia, of pious memory, a man outstanding in erudition and christian eloquence, who afterwards when raised up to the high rank of the pontificate, was named Pope Innocent V. Truly did the Supreme Pontiff Gregory X, himself, having lost a brother in the deepest affection of heart, greiving for his most faithful helper and counselor, testify openly with graver words, that the Catholic Church, which had received from the piety and doctrine of such a man the richest fruits, had lost greatly at his death. But truly has it been said by the Holy Spirit: “In eternal remembrance will be the just man.” (Ps. 111: 6) For he who in life was illustrious, was long after death made more illustrious, with God, who is admirable and glorious in His Saints, much approving him with very many signs and prodiges and with the greastest distinguishing miracles.
- 9. When the fame of whose miracles had gathered great strength among all men, the same Sixtus, Our predecessor, surveying them from the sublime watchtower of the Apostolic See, understood that the finger of the God, who alone works great wonders, was planely there. And so both on his own, and at the very many vehement requests of Frederick, Emperor of the Romans, of good memory, of kings, republics, dukes and cities, and the urgent demanding consent of nearly all the faithful, the Roman Pontiff had the worthy idea of registering that most outstanding man, the Cardinal Bishop, Bonaventure, among the Saints. Therefore with the greatest care and having examined both the exceptional sanctity of that diligent life and the truth of his miracles and having gathered these together, at last with all things, which pertained to this matter, duely and rightly accomplished, for the glory of God and the exaltation of the Catholic Church, in virtue of his own power and that bestowed upon him by God in blessed Peter the Apostle, he registered among the Saints the same blessed Bonaventure, with the consent of his brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and all the prelates, and he inscribed and aggregated him among the number of the Saintly Confessors, Pontiffs, and Doctors, and he commanded that his anniverary feast day be celebrated on the second Sunday of the month of July, and that an office be recited for him, just as for a Confessor, Pontiff, and Doctor throughout the universal Church, likewise with other decrees added, which are more fully contained in the letters of the same Sixtus.
- 10. And although this Doctor, St. Bonaventure, be glorious and most celebrated in the Catholic Church, and be greatly respendant in Heaven, where he is crowned with that crown, which God witholds for those who love Him, and although no human thing is lacking to him, who enjoys the good things with Christ, which neither the eye sees, nor the heart expects; nevertheless the charity of Christ and a burning affection of a certain devotion, by which for him We have been perpetually consumed from nearly Our first years, urges Us to consider how to rather propagate and explain his sanctity and to a greater extent his doctrine, as much as We are able with the help of the Lord. Indeed We are moved, that there is a part, of Our seraphic Relgion, in holy communion with him, in which We have been educated and versed for many years, and for whom as a for a most worthy mother, We should manifest every honor of piety and gratitude of heart; but much more do the glory of God, the pastoral office which We bear, the so many labors undertaken by this most holy man on behalf of the Church of God, and his so many illustrious merits urge Us, so conjoined as they are with the Roman Church, in whose broadest ranks and Senate he sat with the highest praise. Finally the utility of the universal Church moves Us, which can be always more and more richly captivated by the erudition of such a Doctor, especially when the ambushes and the diabolical machinations of heretics, by which they oppose most vehemently in this sad age that sacred theology, which is called Scholastic, admonish Us greatly, that We should retain, explain, and propagate this same theology, as something which nothing can be more fruitful for the Church of God. For with the divine gift of Him, who alone gives the spirit of knowledge (scientia) and wisdom and understanding, and who furnishes His Church throughout the lifetimes of generations, as is needed, with new benifits, and who provides Her with new supports, there has been discovered by Our ancestors, most wise men, Scholastic theology, which by two Doctors glorious above all, the angelic Saint Thomas, and the seraphic Saint Bonaventure, the most brilliant professors in this capacity, and first among those, who have been registered among the number of the Saints, with excellent genius, assiduous study, great labors and vigils have refined and decorated it, and have passed it on, to those who would come after, optimally arranged and in many ways very clearly explained. And indeed such a salutary understanding and practice of this science, which spread abroad from the richest sources of divine letters, Roman Pontiffs, holy Fathers and Councils, could certainly always bring the greatest assistance to the Church, either to understand and interpret, truly and sensibly, the Scriptures themselves, or to read through and explain the Fathers more securely and usefully, or to detect and refute the various errors and heresies. Truly in these last days, in which already there has come those dangerous times described by the Apostle, and the blasphemous, proud, seductive men who advance to what is worse still, erring and sending others into error, this (kind of theology) is necessary to sensibly confirm the dogmas of the Catholic Faith and confute heresies. And the state of affairs is such, that the judges are the very enemies themselves of the truth, by whom Scholastic theology has become dreadful to the greatest degree, who scarcely understand, by that apt and inner connected coherence of things and causes, in that order and arrangment, as by the training of soldiers in fighting, with those lucid definitions and distinctions, by that firmness of arguments and the sharpest disputations, that light is distinguished from shadows, and the true from the false, and their mendacity, involuted with many deceptions and fallacies, like a vestment borne away, is brought to light and stripped bare. In as much as therefore as these men begin to fight and overturn this most fortified citadel of Scholastic theology, so much more does it befit us to defend this unconquered defense of the Faith, and both to conserve and keep safe the inheritance of Our fathers, and to embellish, as much as we can, the keenest defenders of the truth with merited honors.
- 11. Wherefore, so that the erudition of the Seraphic Doctor may be diffused more broadly to the utility of the many, and so that from his books and works erudite and studious men may daily sieze more copious and more tastety fruit (which must not be doubted will add to the glory of this very Saint, though he is most blessed in heaven) We establish that indeed at first in Our kind City, in this basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles, a college by the name of Saint Bonaventure, in which sacred theology especially from the works and commentaries of this exceptional and devout Doctor is to be publicly explained.
- 12. Then also all his works, which can be found, whose editions are partly not yet carefully sought out nor even altogether evaluated under our authority, and partly already published, We are paying attention at the same time to them all in proper form, so that both what is most faultless be printed and that these be brough to light from Our Vatican press. However because from the very beginning of Our pontificate, with God, as We piously believe, inspiring, We have proposed constantly, to celebrate the name and merits of this holy Doctor among and for the sake of all men and to increase and amplify the faithful’s veneration of him, and We have also been sensibly and not moderately stirred to do this by the example of Our predecessor, Pope Pius V, of holy memory, most worthy of the Christian republic, and whom as a father We still revere and honor.
- 13. For he having been throroughly moved with religious piety and singular devotion, by which he was influenced in Saint Thomas of Aquinas’ regard, the honor of his Order and the ornament of the Catholic Church, desiring in the same manner to addorn the same Saint with suitable honors on account of his most outstanding merits in the Catholic Church, besides these ordered and decreed this, that his feast day be forever celebrated each year as a rite of double office according to the likeness of the four holy Doctors of the Church; which equal honor We indeed estimate should be alloted to St. Bonaventure, an exceptional Doctor, since among these such a fine conjuction and similitude of virtues, holiness, doctrine, and merits intervenes. For these “are the two olive trees and two candlesticks” (Apoc. 11: 4) lighting the house of God, who both with the fat of charity and the light of science entirely illumine the whole Church; these two by the singular providence of God appeared at the same time rising forth as two stars from the brightest families of model Orders, which have always been prepared as things most useful to holy Church in defending the catholic religion, and in undertaking all labors and dangers for the orthodox faith, from which, as from a fertile and well cultivated soil, daily by the grace of God fecund and fruitful plants are procreated, by this is meant those men outstanding in doctrine and sanctity, who energetically conduct the strong and faithful work of the bark of Peter, driven about by so many waves, and of the Roman Pontiff, holding (as he does) his key not without the greatest sollicitude. These two Saints, since they were contemporaries and given to the very same studies, students together, teachers at the same time, after they both had been summoned to the Council by Gregory X, the Supreme Pontiff, for similar reasons, honored, and in the pilgrimage of this life by fraternal charity, by spiritual familiarity, they have been very much conjoined in a fellowship of holy works, and at last migrating onward together with equal pace to the celestial fatherland, equally happy and glorious they enjoy to the full that sempiternal beatitude, where with the same affection of charity, as We piously believe, they pray for Us laboring in this vale of tears and implore the divine power of assistance, so that deservedly did the same Sixtus IV, acknowledging that these two Saints where thoroughly alike and almost twin brothers in Christ, establish, that Saint Bonaventure and St. Thomas must be adorned with a like perogative of veneration and honor.
- 14. Therefore because by Us both the charity of the seraphic Order, and the magnitude of the merits of Saint Bonaventure, and the utility and edification of the Catholic Church, whose helms have been committed by God to Us, though undeservedly, require, with the mature deliberation of Our venerable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, having been heard, from the counsel and unanimous consent of the same and from Our certain knowledge and the fullness of Apostolic power bestowed upon Us, by this Our perpetually valid constitution, that the doctrine of this very Saint Bonaventure, praised by Our abovesaid precedessors, Clement IV, Gregory X, and Sixtus IV, greatly approved in the Council of Lyons, employed also at the Council of Florence to explain difficult matters, testified to and commended by the authority of the gravest of men and worthy of an exceptional Doctor of the Church, We also greatly praise and commend in the Lord, and also the letters of the same Sixtus IV, which We want to be considered expressly at this moment, excepting the arrangement for celebrating the feast day of St. Bonaventure on the second Sunday of July, approving and renewing by the tenor of these (letters), We determine and declare, that St. Bonaventure himself, lawfully inscribed and ennumerated together with the company of the holy Doctors by the same Sixtus IV, by Apostolic authority with the tenor of these present letters, must be held and venerated among the preeminent and primary (Doctors), who excel in the guidance of theological ability.
- 15. And on account of that We, hoping in the Lord, that the nightly study of the Seraphic Doctor in doctrine and devotion, which We greatly desire to shine and burn among the clergy and christian people, will be the greatest help, We determine and will that his books, commentaries, smaller works, and in short all his works, be cited, published, and when it is demanded, employed, in the manner in which they have been most faultlessly published by Our Vatican press, as has been said above, just as are those of the other Doctors of the Church, who are exceptional, not only in private, but publicly, in lecture halls, academies, schools, colleges, in lectures, disputations, interpretations, addresses, sermons and in all other ecclesiatical studies and christian practices.
- 16. And nevertheless, so that a glorious remembrance of this wisest Doctor, if not for the sake of his own dignity, at least for the sake of human refinement, be refostered on account of his vast merits with more ardent study, We, induced by the example of Our precedessor, Pope Boniface VII, of happy remembrance, who gave instructions concerning the four holy Doctors, and that of Pope Pius V, concerning the aforesaid same St. Thomas, do precept, that his office be celebrated by all persons ecclesiastical, secular, and regular of whatever Orders as much in public as in private on the day before the Ides of July (with the aforesaid arrangement of Sixtus IV, concerning the second Sunday of the said month, not withstanding) and so that this should be explained and printed in the Calendars, with the name of the Doctor and the addition of “festum duplex”, even if in the reforms of the most recent breviaries and of the Roman Missal it had been arranged otherwise, and We determine that it cannot be judged nor interpreted otherwise than as had been ordained by Us above, by whomsoever endowed with whatever authority
- 17. Exorting all the faithful of Christ, of both sexes, in the city of Bagnoregio, which gave forth this most bright light, and those of the diocese, that they abstain on this same feast day from servile works, according to the custom of the Church: however so that the devotion of Christ’s faithful be enkindled to honor the feast day of this Doctor and to piously implore his power of assitance, more than it is, on which they might perceive themselves to be refreshed by this gift of celestial grace, by the mercy of the omnipotent God and entrusted with His authority to blessed Peter and Paul, the Apostles, We mercifully concede and grant in the Lord a plenary indulgence and remission of all sins, to all Christ’s faithful, of both sexes, who, gathered together as much in the said city and diocese of Bagnoregio, as in the very bright city of Lyons, where he fought the good fight lawfully, where with the race finished, the faith kept, he happlily migrated from this calamitous age to the reward and crown of his merits in Heaven, and in Our kind city, where in that Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles, a college had been erected by Us, as We have already said, devoutly honoring his very feast, as other festivities are usually observed according to the precept of the Church, truly penitent and having made a sacramental confession of their sins, would on the same day receive the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. To those who would truly visit the churches of the Friars Minor of St. Francis on the very day of the feast, from the first vespers until sunset on the day proper, pouring forth prayers there to God, as their own devotion might suggest, We remit ten years and as many forty-days of those penances enjoined upon them, or owed in any other manner whatsoever, by means of these present letters that will endure perpetually, which We do not want to be included under whatever revocations or limitations of indulgences.
- 18. Wherefore We command your fraternity and discretion by means of these Apostolic writings, to procure that whatsoever is contained in them be published solemnly in whatever of your provinces, cities, churches, and dioceses, and that by all persons ecclesiastical, secular, and regular of whatever Order, of whatever place and nation, they be observed perpetually inviolable.
- 19. Moreover We will, that to the copies of these present letters, even those printed, signed by the hand of any public notary, and endowed with the seal of any person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, there be exhibited everywhere that same straightforward faith, which would be exhibited to these present letters, if they were displayed or show to them.
- 20. To entirely no man therefore be it licit to infringe, or with rash daring to contravene, this page of Our approbation, renewal, decrees, declaration, determinations, precept, concession, grant, remission and command. If anyone however would presume to attempt this, he will know himself to have incurred the indignation of the omnipotent God and of His Apostles, Peter and Paul.
Given at Rome in the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord, one thousand five hundred and eighty-eighth, one the day before the Ides of March, in the third year of Our Pontificate.
Back to: 1400-1599 DOCUMENTS
Back to: CHURCH AND PAPAL DOCUMENTS