Francis of Assisi: The Life

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Overview

Francis of Assisi: The Life is an elegant and accessible biography of one of Catholicism's most beloved saints. Originally published as Part 1 of Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson, O.P., it stands alone as a richly informed portrait of a man whose complex faith and commitment continue to inspire today. A new introduction by Thompson places his biography in the context of continuing discussions about Francis's legacy, particularly the new Pope's decision to...

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Francis of Assisi: The Life

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Overview

Francis of Assisi: The Life is an elegant and accessible biography of one of Catholicism's most beloved saints. Originally published as Part 1 of Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson, O.P., it stands alone as a richly informed portrait of a man whose complex faith and commitment continue to inspire today. A new introduction by Thompson places his biography in the context of continuing discussions about Francis's legacy, particularly the new Pope's decision to adopt the saint's name.

From reviews of Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

"This is not a typical biography of Francis of Assisi (1181–1226). Thompson, a Dominican priest and church historian, bases his biography solidly on verifiable material. He seeks the historical Francis, not the Francis of legend, and succeeds admirably in this task. . . . A well-written, scholarly portrait of a saint whose biography has been based too often on legends."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Among Thompson's many keen yet painful insights into the historical Francis, one stands out and serves to bind together the entire narrative and to shed light on the discordant history of the Franciscan order: Leadership was an 'intolerable burden' to Francis, spiritually, 'one he wished to be rid of as quickly as possible.' . . . The stripped-down, bare-bones historical Francis of this biography is at once immensely likeable and deeply disturbing. He is appealing insofar as Thompson makes him seem much more like an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary things rather than a heaven-sent, self-assured prophet. His befuddlement, his inner turmoil, his inability to control events make him seem not just very human but also much like nearly anyone who is likely to pick up this book."—First Things

"Francis of Assisi so impressed the people of his own time that even before his death a rich field of stories, images, anecdotes, and reports of miracles had sprung up. These so enveloped the saint that many scholars have despaired of uncovering the man behind the legends. But this new, lucid study by Thompson largely achieves this goal. . . . An engaging, well-written new biography of the saint."—Choice

"I recommend this book strongly to anyone serious about understanding Francis of Assisi. I admire the clarity and brevity of the writing. With decisiveness, Thompson cuts through the conflicting medieval accounts of each event in Francis' life, adjusts for the hagiographers' spin and creates a credible chronology out of the blurry dates. His knowledge of medieval Italy allows him to provide insightful explanations of the legal, liturgical, and ecclesiastical practices of the time."—America

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The bottom line here is that Francis (1181-1226) was not born a saint.... As Thompson portrays him, Francis was not the cloying saint given to grand gestures as depicted by filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli and others. He was a human being who has been embellished nearly out of existence. This expert biography sets the record straight."—Diane Scharper,National Catholic Reporter(February 28, 2014)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801479069
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 433,691
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Augustine Thompson, O.P., is Professor of History at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. He is also the author of Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125–1325.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. "When I Was in My Sins," 1181–1205

2. The Penitent from Assisi, 1206–1209

3. The Primitive Fraternity, 1209–1215

4. Expansion and Consolidation, 1216–1220

5. Francis Returns Home, 1220–1221

6. Rules and Retirement, 1221–1223

7. The Way of the Cross, 1223–1225

8. From Penitent to Saint, 1225–1226

For Further Reading

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2013

    Professor Thompson, I admire your work. Truly, it would be a tr

    Professor Thompson, I admire your work.

    Truly, it would be a treat to sit in a class by this author, and learn from him in person, the way I learned from his book. His style is clear and bold, and teaches without confusing or making presuppositions about the reader. And the way the reader learns about Francis is through a deftly woven story, not just facts slathered across pages and slapped between two covers.

    This book is an amazing character study, both in choice of subject and in execution. Even those not primarily interested in the Church, or Francis of Assisi, would benefit from the example of word craft Professor Thompson gives us here, yet I find it highly unlikely that someone could read this book and walk away untouched by the story itself. With the extensive amount of research and material used and cited throughout, all of this is just a solid foundation for the fantastic story within the pages.

    The author sets forth his objective in the beginning: to provide a biographical account of Francis of Assisi, unmarred by the lofty tales spun in the religious fervor of his day, or by the clinical examinations of the 21st century historians. With the documents written by Francis and his followers placed in historical context as his guide, the author makes his own judgments and interpretations. He does not seek create his own “mythology”, and even gently refutes that of others, while creating a year by year reconstruction of Francis’s life.

    As a result Francis becomes very real. The lofty saint becomes relatable, yet still honored and venerated. The reader grows to respect the Man from Assisi in a new way, understanding why he was so influential, why he deserved the praise of his peers and followers. He becomes someone of integrity and great character, who struggled with very human problems, yet overcame. No longer myths and stained glass, but a real person, who influenced others through his walk and talk.

    Instead of legend, you get a legacy, and that is more enduring.

    I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley

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