Saint of the Day – 31 March – Blessed Bonaventure Tornielli OSM (1411-1491) Priest of the Servite Order, called the “Apostolic Preacher”, Confessor, Biblical expert, Missionary Preacher – born in 1411 in Forli, Italy and died on 31 March 1491 of natural causes, aged 80 years old. Patronages – Missionaries, Catechists.
The Roman Martyrology says of him: “In Udine, in the territory of Venice, Blessed Bonaventure Tornielli, Priest of the Order of the Servants of Mary, who moved the villages to penance with his preaching in various regions of Italy. He died as an octogenarian, while preaching a Lenten sermon.”
Bonaventura Tornielli was born in 1411 in Forlì to the nobleman Giacomo Tornielli and he received a devout family education.
He enlisted into the Servite Order in 1448, where he became noted as a Biblical expert and was later Ordained as a Priest. He completed his studies in Venice in 1454 and earned his Master’s Degree in his Theological studies. After he was Ordained to the Priesthood, he made preparation for a life of apostolic work, by a year in solitude. After this period of retirement, he began to preach eloquently and successfully.
He became noted for his love of contemplative silence in which to meditate on the Gospel, while also preaching sermons and missions in the Papal States and in other Italian cities, all on the subject of repentance.
His fame for personal holiness spread at a rapid pace even to the ears of Pope Sixtus IV who named him as the “Apostolic Preacher.” Fr Bonaventura served for an unknown duration as his order’s Vicar-General. In this office, he gave proof of wonderful administrative ability and charity.
In 1468 he led a sermon before the Senate of the Republic of Venice (also to them in 1482) and in 1488 at the San Marco Basilica. He also led sermons in Florence at the Cathedral at the request of their Senate and also at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in 1481 . He preached during a period of plague in 1476 in both Bologna and Perugia . In 1483 he served as Prior of the San Marcello convent in Rome and there decided to retire, with six others, to a hermitage after receiving papal permission to do so. This was short lived, for Pope Sixtus IV on 31 May 1483, requested that he preach in the Papal States.
Fr Bonaventure participated in the General Chapter of his Order in 1485 in Vetralla and again in 1488 at Bologna where he preached.
It was said that he walked barefoot regardless of the weather conditions and also refrained from consuming both meat and wine. Fra Filippo Albrizzi wrote: “He was a priest of great holiness. His beard was unkempt, his feet were bare, suffering the heat of summer and the freezing cold of winter. He never wore shoes and his feet were often seen to be bleeding.” Fr Bonaventure also slept either on the floor or on a bed of wooden planks.
Fr Bonaventure died on 31 March 1491 – on Holy Thursday – in Udine where he was preaching during the Lenten season.
In 1507 the Lieutenant Andrea Loredan was on a trip from Venice to Udine when he fell ill and was cured, after turning to the late Fr Bonaventure for intercession. His remains were moved in 1509 to Venice to the Church of Saint Mary of the Servants that Loredan himself oversaw. His remains were relocated to the private home of a Servite priest – due to the Napoleonic invasion. In 1971 his remains were moved to Udine. In both Udine and the City of Venice, a cultus grew up around him, it was marked by many miraculous cures. This cultus was confirmed in 1911 when he was Beatified by St Pope Pius X.
Oh God, who didst impart to Blessed Bonaventure, the Confessor, the grace of recalling sinners to repentance, grant we beseech Thee, through his merits and intercession, that we may also weep over our sins, so that, renewed in heart and will, we may serve Thee faithfully, until death. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen