Lagura: Preacher, thinker, bitter reviler

Fr. Flor Lagura SVD
·1 min read

YEARS before the famous Francis Bacon, England saw the birth of Roger Bacon in county Somerset, c. 1212.

The young Roger Bacon studied math and science at Oxford under Adam Marsh. He then proceeded to learn Greek and Latin as well as philosophy under the Franciscan friar Robert Grosseteste.

After finishing his studies, Roger Bacon entered the Franciscan order. Later, recognizing the talent of the young Franciscan, Oxford University hired him. Soon afterwards, Roger Bacon rocked the academia when he said that his contemporaries relied too much on poor translations of writings from Plato and Aristotle. Moreover, the commentaries used then were faulty and based on mangled translations done by Arabs. Finally, he targeted the Church pointing out that for priests to be effective preachers, seminary training must include math, science and the humanities. (At that time, the main requirement for the priesthood was to say the prayers and memorize the formula of the mass in Latin.)

Tales abounded on his being a "wizard," in alchemy. On the “destructive” side, Roger Bacon formulated the chemical composition of gunpowder, even though the Chinese claim to have invented it many years earlier.

His pursuits in the academic world culminated with the publication of his opus, The Greater Work (Opus Maius) where he pointed out that any pursuit for knowledge and wisdom, whether in science, philosophy or theology, will ultimately end up in God: the Fount of Wisdom. Moreover, Roger Bacon renewed his contention that future priests should have a solid background in the sciences and humanities in order to be effective ministers and preachers.

Years after his death in 1292, the Church as well as the academic and scientific worlds recognized his valuable contributions to knowledge, giving him the distinction, “Doctor Admirabilis.”