Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

Francis of Assisi: A New Biography Review

Among the most beloved saints in the Catholic tradition, Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226) is popularly remembered for his dedication to poverty, his love of animals and nature, and his desire to follow perfectly the teachings and example of Christ. During his lifetime and after his death, followers collected, for their own purposes, numerous stories, anecdotes, and reports about Francis. As a result, the man himself and his own concerns became lost in legend.

In this authoritative and engaging new biography, Augustine Thompson, O.P., sifts through the surviving evidence for the life of Francis using modern historical methods. The result is a complex yet sympathetic portrait of the man and the saint. Francis emerges from this account as very much a typical thirteenth-century Italian layman, but one who, when faced with unexpected crises in his personal life, made decisions so radical that they challenge his own society--and ours. Unlike the saint of legend, this Francis never had a unique divine inspiration to provide him with rules for following the teachings of Jesus. Rather, he spent his life reacting to unexpected challenges, before which he often found himself unprepared and uncertain. The Francis who emerges here is both more complex and more conflicted than that of older biographies. His famed devotion to poverty is found to be more nuanced than expected, perhaps not even his principal spiritual concern. Thompson revisits events small and large in Francis's life, including his troubled relations with his father, his contacts with Clare of Assisi, his encounter with the Muslim sultan, and his receiving the Stigmata, to uncover the man behind the legends and popular images.

A tour de force of historical research and biographical writing, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography is divided into two complementary parts--a stand alone biographical narrative and a close, annotated examination of the historical sources about Francis. Taken together, the narrative and the survey of the sources provide a much-needed fresh perspective on this iconic figure. "As I have worked on this biography," Thompson writes, "my respect for Francis and his vision has increased, and I hope that this book will speak to modern people, believers and unbelievers alike, and that the Francis I have come to know will have something to say to them today."

Title:Francis of Assisi: A New Biography
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Libby

    Francis of Assisi is everybody's favorite saint, you know, the sweet faintly hippieish guy who preached to the birds and invented the Christmas creche, right? Well---sorta right. This new bio by Augus...

  • Katie

    Francis of Assisi is the most malleable of medieval saints. People started projecting ideologies onto him within a few years of his death and the process has continued up to the present, to the extent...

  • Andrew

    As some folks know, I am a secular Franciscan. But even it wasn't part of our Rule, I would still be reading books about the life of Francis of Assisi. I first became acquainted with the saint around ...

  • Pat

    I wanted this book to be exceptional, and in a way it was. Certainly well researched and dispassionately written, I found it to be strangely cold and souless. It certainly does a good job of pointing ...

  • Patrick T.

    Perhaps the best way to begin a discussion of Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson, O.P. — a rich, austere and complex portrait of one of the most famous and admired saints in Ca...

  • Maria Virginia Ross

    Life changing. I love this book because it's focused on fact on legend! Read my full review here: http://www.saintsandrecipes.com/st-fr......

  • Patrick

    A real solid biography written at a scholarly but accessible level. Great introduction to Francis....

  • Susan Frances

    Who was Francis of Assisi and how did he come to be the founder of a unit of the Catholic Church known as the Franciscan Order, which continues to survive today? Author Augustine Thompson traces the a...

  • Br. Fred Jaxheimer

    I chose this book because it was described as a scholarly historical work that was described as unique and insightful by readers. The first half of the book is nicely flowing historical narrative. The...

  • P.e. lolo

    I have read other books about ST. FRANCIS, but this book made him more as a person and some one that was easier to relate to. There are parts of the story that are the same as in other books but this ...