March 3, 2010. "Dear Brothers and Sisters, In our catecheses on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to Saint Bonaventure, an early follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and a distinguished theologian and teacher in the University of Paris.
There Bonaventure was called upon to defend the new mendicant orders, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, in the controversies which questioned the authenticity of their religious charism. The Friars, he argued, represent a true form of religious life, one which imitates Christ by practising the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Elected Minister General of the Friars Minor, he served in this capacity for seventeen years, at a time of immense expansion accompanied by controversies about the genuine nature of the Franciscan charism. His wisdom and moderation inspired the adoption of a rule of life, and his biography of Francis, which presented the Founder as alter Christus, a passionate follower of Christ, was to prove most influential in consolidating the charism of the Franciscan Order. Named a Bishop and Cardinal, Bonaventure died during the Council of Lyons. His writings still inspire us by their wisdom penetrated by deep love of Christ and mystical yearning for the vision of God and the joy of our heavenly homeland.
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from Nigeria, Japan and the United States. To the pilgrims from Sophia University in Tokyo I offer my prayerful good wishes that the coming centenary of your University will strengthen your service to the pursuit of truth and your witness to the harmony of faith and reason. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s abundant blessings!"