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Francis Of Assisi

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Francis Of Assisi.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Adrian House(Author)

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Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was the least dogmatic of saints, seeing himself as God's troubadour or fool. His life was rich in its succession of dramas. After his debauchery as a young playboy, merchant and soldier - he fought at the Battle of Collestrada - he stripped naked in court, abandoned everything he owned and devoted his life to the poorest and the sick. On his missions he walked over the Pyrenees barefoot, was shipwrecked, and crossed the lines during the Fifth Crusade to parley with the Sultan in Egypt. In 1224 marks similar to Christ's wounds appeared on his hands, feet and side, the first recorded case of stigmata.

Francis's feelings for creation, epitomised in his sermon to the birds, stimulated the realism of the Italian Renaissance artists; his vernacular poems inclined Dante to write The Divine Comedy in Italian not Latin. The first religious order he founded, for men, had a radical effect on social justice and the developing universities in Europe; his second order, the Poor Clares, for women, soon numbered hundreds, including royalty and half a dozen saints; his third, for laity sworn to peace, helped destroy the military power of feudalism.

But above all it is through his universal love that he has influenced the world for nearly eight centuries, drawing more than three million people every year to his tomb in Assisi.

In the Preface to Francis of Assisi Adrian House writes that the inspiration for writing his biography came while visiting an Anglican friary in Dorset where all the visiting guests, be they bishops, ex-prisoners, retired generals, travellers or alcoholic stockbrokers, were treated identically by the friars, making it impossible to know for certain who was who. At the start of a story so synonymous with the compassionate and loving acceptance of all forms of life, this anecdote serves as a powerful reminder of St Francis's enduring appeal and popularity--the man whom the French agnostic scholar Ernest Renan called "the only perfect Christian" after Christ.

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Book details

  • PDF | 352 pages
  • Adrian House(Author)
  • Pimlico; New Ed edition (1 Nov. 2001)
  • English
  • 4
  • Religion & Spirituality

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Review Text

  • By D. J. Favager on 26 December 2016

    This is not a work by either a theologian or a historian and is clearly intended for the general reader rather than the scholar. It seeks to set the events of Francis’ life in the wider context of the times but the background is only very lightly drawn. As well as narrating the life of the saint an attempt is made to analyse his experience and his significance. There are some helpful insights and the overall approach is sympathetic but not uncritical. Some attempt is made to examine the early sources but little emphasis is placed on the miraculous since the author feels that it lies outside the scope of the historian. Perhaps it would have been interesting to have included some more of his miracles to illustrate the way he was seen by contemporaries without having to pronounce on their authenticity. The book also tells something of the work of his fellow saint and admirer, Clare. The picture we are given of Francis is of a man who took humility to a pathological level and as a result ensured himself an early death. He certainly displayed genuine concern for his human brothers and sisters and for nature in the wider sense but one senses that much of his self-imposed austerity was affectation and exhibitionism (his tendency to naked protest suggests as much). It is surely possible to show loving concern for your fellow human beings and to reject materialistic culture without going to the lengths that Francis, Clare and their followers did. The extreme lengths to which he went to avoid pride and luxury make it very hard for a modern reader to admire Francis – his spirituality can hardly be in doubt but the manner of its manifestation is hard to recommend as a role model today. The author presents Francis as the most influential European of his time – beyond Popes and Emperors – and his lasting impact is indisputable but it is perhaps only because over time many of the less desirable influences have been filtered out that we can regard this lasting influence as a positive one. This book is an easy read for the non-specialist and will be acceptable to the secularist and believer alike.

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