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St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio  

Peter Loewen

[Giovanni di Fidanza]

(b c1217; d July 14, 1274). Italian composer, theologian, and minister general of the Order of Friars Minor. According to his 15th-century biographer Mariano of Florence, Bonaventure was born the son of a physician (Giovanni) in the village of Bagnoregio. He entered the faculty of Arts at the University of Paris in 1234, and might have joined the Franciscans there as early as 1238. Under the tutelage of the first four regents master of the Franciscan School, he discovered the writings of Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury, Hugh of St. Victor, and Aristotle, which were essential to his formation as a scholar.

Bonaventure was given license to dispute and preach in the convent as a bachelarius formatus (1252–3) and then as a doctor (1254–7) before being named regent master on August 12, 1257; but that year (February 2, 1257), he was elected minister general of the order, which brought him to Assisi in February of ...

Article

Pecham, John  

Peter Loewen

[Johannes de PeschamPeccanusPischanoPisanoPithyano]

(b Patcham, Sussex, c1230; d Mortlake, Surrey, Dec 8, 1292). English composer, Franciscan scholar, provincial minister, and archbishop of Canterbury. Pecham joined the Order of Friars Minor in Oxford c1250 after studying at the Cluniac Priory at Lewes. He studied the liberal arts at Oxford, and theology in Paris. From 1269 to 1271, Pecham fulfilled the offices of Franciscan lector and regent master of theology at the University of Paris, and then served in the same capacity at the University of Oxford between c1272 and 1276. He became provincial minister of the Franciscans in England in 1276, and in 1277 was appointed lecturer in theology for the papal curia (lector sacri palatii). Pecham was appointed archbishop of Canterbury on January 25, 1279, and he continued in this position until his death. Pecham’s body was buried in Canterbury Cathedral, though his heart was preserved in the Franciscan church in London....

Article

Serra, Junípero  

Margaret Cayward

[Miguel José ]

(b Petra, Majorca, Spain, Nov 24, 1713; d Mission San Carlos Borromeo, Alta California [now in Carmel, CA], Aug 28, 1784). Spanish Franciscan friar and founder of the Alta California missions. Baptized Miguel José, upon joining the Franciscan order at age 17 he took the name of Junípero, after a companion of St. Francis. In 1742 Serra obtained a doctorate in theology at the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he was a professor of theology. Known as a forceful and zealous preacher with a resonant voice, in 1749 Serra sailed for New Spain to become a missionary. He served in the missions in the Sierra Gorda from 1750 to 1758, and the missions he administered there prospered. In order to better serve the indigenous population he served there, he learned the Otomí language. In 1758 Serra was recalled to the San Fernando College in Mexico City, where he remained until ...

Article

Seyoum, (Liqe Mezemmiran) Moges  

Jonas Westover

(b Shoah, Ethiopia, 1949). Ethiopian singer, church musician, and liturgical scholar, naturalized American. Seyoum began studying music at the age of eight and attended various religious schools in his homeland. As he grew older, he began to learn new types of performance, including the Bethlehem style of singing, Christian chant, and sacred dance. At 17 years of age, he was already named a quanygeta, or “leader of the right hand side,” an important position among Ethiopian church musicians (also called dabrata). He quickly rose from deacon to marigeta, the leader of the musicians. He spent ten years in Greece learning more about liturgical practices and then came to the United States in 1982. Seyoum settled in Alexandria, Virgina, and joined the Debre Selam Kidist Mariam Church in Washington, DC. He became a leader there, and his remarkable musical skills have led to the preservation of many traditional elements of the Ethiopian Christian tradition in America. To codify and disseminate these practices, Seyoum released a six-CD set of liturgical materials. He has memorized the entirety of the Ethiopian Psalter (Dawit) and has intimate knowledge of other sacred books, such as the Ethiopian Hymnary. Seyoum is an expert of instrumental church practices, including those that are tied to the extremely complicated notational system from Ethiopia that includes more than 600 symbols. He is also the only living master of the prayer staff and its movements (an art called ...

Article

Watts, Isaac  

Esther R. Crookshank

(b Southampton, England, July 17, 1674; Stoke Newington, London, Nov 25, 1748). English hymn writer, clergyman, scholar, and author. Watts wrote hymns from age 20 for his Southampton congregation and from 1702 served as pastor in London. After giving up public ministry for health reasons in 1712, he exerted great influence on Puritan leaders in the American colonies through extensive correspondence and his published collections, which contained nearly 700 hymns and psalm paraphrases.

With The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1719) he undertook large-scale reform of Dissenting (non-Anglican) worship by writing new “Christianized” versifications of the Psalms; he believed the Psalter required revision to fit it for New Testament worship. His reform succeeded far beyond his expectations for many reasons, including the strong appeal of his vigorous, singable lyrics to Puritan ministers and worshippers in colonial New England, where they took deep root. Called the “liberator of English hymnody,” Watts produced psalm paraphrases and hymns that broke the grip of strict metrical psalmody in use for over a century in Protestant Britain and North America. Dozens of American compilers produced ...