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Superna caelestis - Pope Clement XIII - The Papal Library

by Catherine Frakas 17 Mar 2021

Superna caelestis Encyclical of Pope Sixtus IV by which Bl. Bonaventure, Cardinal Bishop of Alba, Is registered in the Canon of the Saints April 14, 1482 Supernal, celestial fatherland, the City of Jerusalem, whose own participation is in itself, so rejoices in the salvation of all the elect, that the more outstanding are the merits of these, the more copious does it also receive the joys of the rewards. Which having been placed in an ecstasy of his mind the Prophet Isaias seems to have understood, when he said (Is. 12:6) Exult and rejoice, dwelling of Sion, since great in your midst is the Saint. Therefore do the choirs of all the Angels exult, who, anxious over the inhabiting of the empty thrones, begin to conduct (souls) from virtue to virtue, to those blessed mansions, from which the proud spirits were hurled down, via humility. All the souls of the just also exult, who have followed the footsteps of Christ and also all the faithful friends of God as much as from the Old as from the New Testament, who, having contemned the vanities of this age, rejoice together in the multitude of fellow citizens. Let the heaven exult in praise, let the earth resound with joys, since the generation of the Saints has brought gladness to very many. For mightily does the piety of the faith demand, that what is conducted for the salvation of the many, be celebrated everywhere with common joys. In truth does the Pontiff of the union of the blessed especially rejoice, and the sacred assembly of the Doctors, who shine in Heaven as stars for perpetual eternities, among whom saint Bonaventure, as a new luminary, from this valley of tears to the celestial (place), which is Jerusalem on high, with God calling him, migrating (onward), has lept forth. We however, who, with God disposing, having been carried up to the apex of the Apostolate, exercise the care of the Christian flock, which on account of the pleasant debt of the pastoral office, We aspire with intense desire to form into the college of the Saints, as We ought, to the Church Militant, for whose edification and increment, We have caused the same Bonaventure to be registered in the catalogue of the Saints, we can by no means speak unsuitably: Exult today and praise, dwelling of Sion, that is the Christian religion, in which as on Mount Sion there dwells by means of the True Faith the True God, since great in your midst is the Saint. Certainly: In the midst of the Church He opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him with the stole of glory, (Eccli. 15:5), and He crowned him at the gates of Paradise, in which with the Angels he rejoices in the one glory and felicity. Let us therefore be glad and exult, since that celestial Curia has from us, him to whom the care for us pertains, who protects us with his own merits, whom he instructs with his examples, illumines with his doctrines and confirms with his miracles; whom God gave to all peoples as a glory and honor, whose memory is held in benediction. For he wrote such things concerning divine things, that it seemed the Holy Spirit spoke in him. So piously, religiously and holy did he live, that his life assembled in this writings, and what he wrote he would teach by example. In which the virtue of morals and the clarity of signs have been so thoroughly proven, that, with the greatest suitable merits and miracles, to him is due the testimony of true sanctity by the Church Militant. For when in the strong flower of youth, when human things are not valued as things to be thrown away, he would dedicate himself to the divine service, having entered the religion of Blessed Francis, to which he strove through arduous deeds, he advanced so much in diligent reading and assiduous prayer, that one could deservedly say with Wisdom: I have desired, and understanding is given to me. (Wis. 7:7) For having been illuminated by Him, who illumines every sense, who is Light, Way, Truth and even Life, he obtained in the space of a few years incredible knowledge (scientia), and he did not bind up the talent entrusted to him by the Lord in a handkerchief, nor did he bury it in the earth, but as a most wise dispensor he converted it for the common usefulness. For in the crowded lecture halls of Paris he reigned from a chair, where explaining in detail the hidden things of the Scriptures, not only did he by his own voice benefit many, but he even left very many of the best books, both in sacred letters and in the primary sciences, as monuments, which would be for the benefit of all time afterwards. Great in doctrine, not less in humility and in the merits of life, whom Alexander of Hales, the Doctor Clarissimus, to whom he handed himself over to be trained, experienced him to be of such innocence and dove-like simplicity, as he was accustomed to say, that it seemed to himself, that in him Adam had never sinned. Great also in the Order of Friars Minor, by whom as one of the very many after blessed Francis it benefited. For having been called to its helms and created Minister General, with God inspiring them, he showed himself to be such to his own subjects, that in him that word of the Lord seemed to be fulfilled: Let him that is your greater, be your minister. (Mt 20:26; 23:11). For greater in wisdom and in the integrity of morals, he exercised the office of prelate with such charity, that willingly humble, his hands were filled ministering to his inferiors, as a good soldier of Christ, now with doctrine, now with admonishments, now with fraternal exhortation, now even with bodily service. Nor did he only guard those things which had been piously and holy instituted by Blessed Francis himself, but he even added many other arrangements, which, with the growing number of friars, seemed to be necessary. He also divided his own Order into provinces and custodies. Great also was he in dignity in the Roman Church. For growing strong in the fame of his innocence, doctrine and prudence, by Pope Gregory X, Our predecessor of happy memory, he was called to the honor of the Cardinalate, so that he might employ his works in the greatest and most difficult things which were happening in those times, regarding whom Gregory himself employed a new example on account of the vast merits of the man. For immediately he entrusted to him the Church of Alba, which was not accustomed to be committed to any but older cardinals. This best of men and most beloved by God did not deceive the expectation of the Supreme Pontiff and the Sacred College. But presiding in the Council of Lyons and directing all things to the praise of God, having allayed discords and borne away difficulties, he was of the greatest use to and ornament of the Church Herself. Which things he recognized openly, that the Lord established him as a testament of peace and made him a prince, so that the dignity of his priesthood would be forever, whom inane glory did not puff up, nor riches drive to the left (i.e. among the goats on judgement day); but persevering in faith and leniency, faithful to God, merciful to the poor, just to all, he so put off this corruptible body, that with the Apostle he can say: I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith, as to the rest a crown of justice has been set aside for me. (2 Tm 4:7). Who even if from his perseverance alone he could have been believed to be a Saint, according to that (saying): Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Apoc. 2:10), however there followed after his death many and very great miracles, which offer certain evidence of his sanctity and induce us to the veneration of him, whom God manifested by his preceding merits to be venerated. For the Omnipotent God Himself, to manifest the power of His own virtue and to disclose the cause of our salvation, often even honors His faithful elect, whom he crows in Heaven, in the world, working signs and prodigies in his memory, whereby heretical depravity is confounded, and the orthodox faith guarded. We give thanks, therefore, to God as much as We can, because He has considered us worthy, through whom this canonization is celebrated, which though, with the divine, extant monuments of letters and trembling miracles, could have already long ago been (celebrated) in due form, however never before this had it been sought with such diligence either by princes or by others. In Our time, Our most dear sons in Christ, Frederick the forever august Emperor of the Romans, the illustrious kings: the most Christian Louis of the Franks, Ferdinand of Sicily and Matthew of Hungary; and also the beloved sons, the noblemen Alphonsus of Calabria, John Mazencio of the Venetians, John Hacam (who in Italian is called Giovanni Galeazzo Sforza) of Milan, and John Burbon, (all) distinguished dukes; moreover the citizens of Florence, Siena, Lyons, Paris and, that which bore such a beaming light, Bagnoregio, with such earnestness and such perseverance requested it from Us that We would think it hard and impious to resist them in a thing so pious, which they even seemed to request as having been moved by God. The assiduous prayers of our venerable brother Julian, Bishop of Savina, Protector of the Order itself were added, and also (those) of our beloved sons Francis Samson, the Minister General, and Peter of Rudolf, the Procurator of the said Order, a professor of Sacred Theology, who in the name of their General Chapter requested it as something just and due. We had read most studiously the divine writings of this Saint, by which, after We were permitted to understand something after a lifetime, we were always delighted. We had heard also from the more ancient friars of the aforesaid Religion and indeed from grave men, that even those of greater age had known that the fame of the sacredness of his life was constant; We were accustomed to know of the many and greatest miracles, nor was there on that account any doubt in our mind, but that he had triumphed in the Church Triumphant in Heaven and merited veneration upon earth. But mindful, that We had entered in same Order of Minors by vow, in which, with divine grace assisting, We had progressed in both sacred letters and religious customs and had exercised the same offices of ministry, and thence to the dignity of the Cardinalate, so that We might recognize that through similar steps We had been elevated to the apex of the pontificate, with the Lord disposing, through which Saint Bonaventure himself was carried up to the unwithering glory of the Church Triumphant, lest in this We seem more ably moved by our own affection than in due devotion, We applied that diligence and gravity, which the magnitude of the matter demanded. For We committed to three of Our venerable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, to order an inquiry into the truth of the miracles. And since one of these, with the process begun, as it pleased God, had passed from this life, We suggested another Cardinal in the place of the defunct, for whom when he was already deceased, We substituted another. Nor content with this, when the process itself had already nearly been completed, and those who had been delegated had reported most faithfully; We however, to whom it did not seem that in proceeding such solemnity, as is required, was observed, ordered it to be begun anew. At last, when it had been thoroughly proven from more abundant reporting and the faith of more worthy witnesses concerning this undertaking, that many and great miracles were worked by God through this Saint, which in the sight of the multitude had been determined, We, lest We seem to resist the Holy Spirit, who through the mouth of the Prophet commands that God be praised in His Saints, in a secret consistory of Ours, it having considered the case of this matter, had the votes of Our venerable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, concerning a canonization of this kind, examined. And since one and the same had been the opinion of all, namely that he should be registered among the number of the Saints: We thereupon held a public consistory, in which, with a great multitude of bystanders, We publicly proclaimed aTriduumm of prayers and fasting, so that God Omnipotent might deign to manifest to us what would be the best course of action in this matter, nor suffer, that His Church Militant to err, who strove to conform Herself to that Triumphant. Thereupon with the Triduum elapsed, We commanded all who were prelates in the Roman Curia to assemble, who to a man having been questioned, what seemed must be done, agreed upon one opinion, and determined that Blessed Bonaventure must be canonized. We therefore, following the command and will of God and attentive, that it be just and due, that God honor in Heaven those whom we praise with a office of veneration and glorify on earth, since He Himself is more powerfully praised and glorified in them, who is praisable and glorious throughout the ages, did establish this day to be celebrated for the canonization of the same Saint Bonaventure in the midst of the Basilica of the Prince of Apostles in the City, in which the greatest multitude of every kind and order streamed together. There, with all remaining things legitimately transacted, the aforesaid Procurator of the Order of the Minors, standing in the middle, proclaiming the saying of the blessed John the Apostle with a clear voice, namely: There are three, who give witness in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit (I John 5:7), proved also, with the process concerning the aforementioned things having been held, that the very Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity had borne witness: namely the Father in the power of his miracles, the Son in the wisdom of his doctrine, and the Holy Spirit in the goodness of his life. And on that account not only in the names of all, who begged that this canonization be accomplished, but even on the part of the each mem

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