Saint of the Day – 26 October – Blessed Bonaventura of Potenza OFM Conv (1651-1711) Priest and Religious of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Miracle-worker, blessed with the gift of prophecy – born on 4 January 1651 of Potenza, Naples, Italy as born Carlo Antonio Gerardo Lavanga and died on 26 October 1711 in Ravello, Italy of gangrene while singing a psalm during a religious ecstasy.
Bonaventura was born of poor but virtuous parents in Potenza in the kingdom of Naples. A pious priest gave the boy instructions in Latin. At the age of 15, Bonaventura received the Franciscan habit among the Conventuals. After his profession, he resumed his studies with great ardour but his zeal for perfection was less ardent.
His superiors sent him to Amalfi, where he lived eight years under the guidance of an eminent director of sauls. This spiritual director trained his pupil above all in humility, self-abnegation and obedience and Bonaventura achieved a high degree of perfection in these virtues.
One day Bonaventure told his master that the key to the sacristy was lost. “Well,” said his master with a smile, “then you will have to look for it in the well, get a rod and fish it out.” Promptly Bonaventura went to the well and with rod and line fished for the key. It was not long before he actually drew it out. God rewarded him in a miraculous manner for his blind obedience.
As a priest he laboured with remarkable success. His words, conduct, prayer and mortification combined to produce blessed results. His simple sermons made a deep impression on all hearts. At times, a single word of hi,s was enough to move the most hardened sinner to contrition.
At various times he was appointed guardian of a convent but his humble pleas were always successful in changing the mind of his superiors. Obedience at length compelled him to accept the position of novice master. In this office he sought to inculcate in his pupils, above all, the practice of humility and obedience.
When an epidemic broke out among the townsfolk, Bonaventura at once sacrificed himself. Fearless of contracting the disease, he hastened from end-to-end of the town, rendering every possible service to the stricken, even the lowliest and administering the sacraments to them. He cured many miraculously, he multiplied their insufficient provisions by his blessing and he foretold future events.
After Bonaventura had been a shining model of virtue among his brethren for 45 years, he felt that his last hour was at hand. While the community gathered about his bed during the administration of the last sacraments, the dying man in touching words begged pardon of his superior and the community for his many faults and infractions of the rule, as he called them.
Deeply moved, the superior handed him the crucifix and amid abundant tears, the servant of God kissed the feet of the Saviour and then died peacefully on 26 October 1711. Pope Pius VI Beatified him in 1775.
Bishop Orazio Soricelli, Archbishop of Amalfi-Cava de ‘Tirreni , called a special jubilee year dedicated to the Blessed Bonaventura da Potenza in his archdiocese. The jubilee year opened on 26 October 2011, the third centenary of the death of the Blessed.