Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Nicholas Bonet

Franciscan theologian and missionary (d. 1360)

Click to enlarge

Bonet, NICHOLAS, Friar Minor, theologian, and missionary, date of birth uncertain; d. 1360. Probably a Frenchman by birth, he taught theology with great success at Paris, where he received the title of “Doctor Pacificus” (The Peaceful Doctor) on account of his suave and tranquil mode of lecturing. Bonet took an important part in the dispute concerning the beatific vision which was warmly discussed during the pontificate of John XXII and finally settled by the decree of his successor, Benedict XII, “Benedictus Deus”. As a member of the papal embassy sent by Benedict XII to Kublai Khan, grandson of the famous conqueror Genghis Khan, Bonet exchanged the comparative ease and comfort of the professor of theology for the arduous and perilous labors of the missionary. The Franciscan missions in Tatary were founded as early as the year 1245 by the zealous apostles of the Faith, Lorenzo da Portogallo and Giovanni da Plan Carpino; and in his desire to see the great work which was inaugurated by them and continued by the saintly Archbishop John of Monte Corvino kept up and extended, the great khan was induced to send an embassy to Benedict XII to petition for new laborers in the missions of Asia. The pope received the legates with every mark of honor and, acceding to the wish of the Mongolian monarch, commissioned four religious of the order of Friars Minor as his legates, on whom he conferred all the Apostolic faculties and privileges necessary for their missionary labors. These were John of Florence, afterwards Bishop of Bisignano in Calabria, Nicholas Bonet, Nicolas da Molano, and Gregory of Hungary. The embassy bearing letters from the pope to the khan left Avignon towards the end of the year 1338, and after a long and arduous journey arrived at Peking in China, the residence of the Tatar emperor at the beginning of 1342. The missionaries were encouraged in their apostolic labors by the kindly attitude of Kublai Khan and succeeded in founding numerous Christian settlements throughout the vast Mongolian empire. About the year 1346 they set out again for Italy. Part of the homeward journey they made by sea and the remainder, from the Kingdom of Persia, by land, arriving in Avignon at the beginning of the year 1354. Shortly after the return of the missionaries, Bonet was consecrated titular Bishop of Mileve in Africa in recognition of his devoted services while on the mission of Mongolia. Among the writings of Nicholas Bonet, the “Tractatus de conceptione B. Mariae Virgins jussu Clementis V scriptus”, the “Formalitates e Doctrines Scoti” and his “Commentarius in IV libros sententiarum” deserve special mention.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!