This is confirmed also by the testimony of William Flete O.S.A., a hermit at Lecceto who in a letter sent to his Provincial in England in 1380 to assure him that the new Prior General was a decided promoter of the Augustinian Observantine movement.
However, Bonaventure’s time as Prior General ended after only fifteen months. This was because he was listed among the twenty-nine new cardinals created by Pope Urban VI in September 1378 to replace the thirteen cardinals who shortly before abandoned the Pope Urban and paved the way for the Great Western Schism. He was named cardinal-priest of Saint Caecilia - the first member of the Order of St Augustine to be made a cardinal.
As a cardinal, he acted for Pope Urban VI. For this reason, Bonaventure of Peraga shared the responsibility for organizing theological studies at the University of Bologna. In this connection it should be added that in the register of the University of Bologna, comprising the period from 1364 to 1500 and containing the names of the nine new founders, the 447 Doctors of the University, and fifty scholars who had received their doctors degrees at Paris or some other university but had been incorporated with the studium generale Bononiense, Bonaventura is listed as follows: "Magister Bonaventura de Padua of the Order of Hermits, as much a man of divine literature as he is a distinguished doctor of secular literature.”
With the exception of another Augustinian, Magister Andreas de Mediolano, to whose name a later hand has added "a man most expert in the Greek language," none of the remaining 504 magistri was found worthy of similar epithetical praise'.
Fifteen years later Bonaventure had to engage himself anew in the same kind of task. Named cardinal in 1378 by Urban VI, he was one of the three cardinals chosen by the same pope to adapt the already mentioned statutes of BoIogna to the other universities of ltaly.
The other cardinals involved were the Dominican Nicholas Caracciolo and the Franciscan Thomas of Frignano. They were entrusted with this task because the Great Western Schism in that same year had eliminated the University of Paris as a suitable place of study for students and teachers of the Roman obedience. The work of the three cardinals was completed around 1380.
Bonaventure’s martyrdom appears to be simply a legend. He always strongly defended the rights of the Church, and this brought him into conflict with his kinsman, Francis, Prince of Carrara, who was the ruler of Padua. The legend proposes that, when crossing the Tiber via the bridge of Sant’Angelo to visit the Vatican, he was struck by an arrow. The Prince of Carrara was said to have been responsible.
A serious problem is that Bonaventure’s reputed death by arrow was never mentioned in the century after his death, but only surfaced in 1494. In fact, in 1393, the new ruler of Padua, who was the son of the supposed assassin, was definitely one of the benefactors of the Augustinian Order.
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: Castel Sant'Angelo bridge, Rome.
Picture 2: Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome.
Picture 3: Statue of angel on the bridge.