The Road to Assisi: The Foundational Biography of St. Francis

Overview

He conversed with both the Pope and the sultan. He transformed a taste for fine things and troubadour poetry into greater loves for poverty and joyful devotion to God. He never intended to found a traditional religious "movement," but nevertheless, he did. As he died, his brothers had to guard him closely in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Francis of Assisi? Where did he come from and what can we learn from his life? Paul Sabatier (1858-1928), a French Protestant and ...
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Overview

He conversed with both the Pope and the sultan. He transformed a taste for fine things and troubadour poetry into greater loves for poverty and joyful devotion to God. He never intended to found a traditional religious "movement," but nevertheless, he did. As he died, his brothers had to guard him closely in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Francis of Assisi? Where did he come from and what can we learn from his life? Paul Sabatier (1858-1928), a French Protestant and the first modern biographer of St. Francis, sought to find the man beneath the layers of myth and legend. Sabatier portrayed a fully human Francis, much like each of us in our awkwardness, insecurities, and fear, but also a gentle mystic and passionate reformer who desired to live as Jesus taught his disciples. The Road to Assisi presents Sabatier´s biography for today´s twenty-first century reader. With helpful explanations and annotations by Jon M. Sweeney, Sabatier´s narrative is supplemented with the insights of many other scholars and writers, from Bonaventure and Dante to G. K. Chesterton and Umberto Eco.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First published in France in 1894 and out of print for several decades, Paul Sabatier's biography of Francis of Assisi was considered the first modern account of the saint, sifting through layers of myth and legend to discover the flawed but extraordinary man who inspired so many people. Now, Sabatier's text is dusted off for a contemporary audience. Jon Sweeney's The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of Saint Francis, by Paul Sabatier, offers an excellent introduction to the text, helpful sidebars and notes and fascinating illustrations, not only to introduce readers to the saint but to aid them in engaging "personally with Francis, the human being." Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This biography of St. Francis is essentially a reworking of the 1894 classic Vie de S. Fran ois d'Asaise by French Protestant Paul Sabatier (1858-1928). Translated into many languages, it became the main source of information about the simple man from Assisi and controversial enough to be placed on the infamous Roman index of banned books. Today, under the editorial guidance of Sweeney (Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions), this balanced, long-out-of-print work is again in the hands of readers. Sweeney has carefully updated the language of the 19th-century text, corrected errors, and supplied sidebar commentary of salient historical facts, taking into account much of what has been written about St. Francis both before and after the Sabatier biography. The original text, which maintained a delicate balance between scientific investigation and hagiographic "myth," has been retained here. In addition to honoring the Sabatier text, Sweeney provides a glossary of terms, a full index, summaries of major characters associated with St. Francis, and a current bibliography of recommended readings, all to assist the reader in truly encountering St. Francis of Assisi. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries collecting religious biography. [This book has been selected for the BOMC, Literary Guild, and History book clubs.-Ed.]-John-Leonard Berg, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Platteville Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557253286
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
The Annotated Life of St. Francis
1. His Youth and Family
2. Stage of Conversion (Spring 1204-Spring 1206)
3. The Church About 1209--Part 1
4. The Church About 1209--Part 2
5. Struggles and Triumph (Spring 1209-February 24,1209)
6. First Year of Apostolate (Spring 1209-Summer 1210)
7. St. Francis and Innocent III (Summer 1210)
8. Rivo-Torto (1210-1211)
9. Portiuncula, Early Companions, and Their Work (1211)
10. Brother Francis and Sister Clare
11. Francis's Love for All Creatures (Autumn 1212-Summer 1215)
12. His Inner Life and Wonder-Working
13. The Chapter-General of 1217 and the Influence of Ugolino
14. St. Dominic and St. Francis
15. The Egyptian Mission: Preaching to the Sultan (Summer 1218-Autumn 1220)
16. Crisis in the Order (Autumn 1220)
17. Francis's Doubts and Weaknesses
18. The Brothers Minor and Learning (1222-1223)
19. The Stigmata (1224)
20. The Canticle of the Sun (Autumn 1224-Autumn 1225)
21. His Last Year (September 1225-End of September 1226)
22. Francis's Will and Death (End of September-October 3, 1226)
Four Tales from The Little Flowers of St. Francis
1. The Source of Joy, or, Francis and Leo Walking in the Freezing Rain
2. Francis Saves and Nurtures the Turtle-Doves
3. How Francis Delivered a Brother from the Hold of the Devil
4. When Francis and Rufino Preached in Their Breeches to the People of Assisi
A Few Notes about the Editing of Sabatier
Glossary of Terms
Summaries of Major Characters
Sources/Recommended Reading
Index
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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Trials of Peace for St Francis

    I have been an admirer of St. Francis since my youth. I have, however, not known many specifics of his life. This biography was helpful to understand the man in his own times. This book was originally written by Sabatier in French in 1906. This English edition follows the Houghton's translation but the editor adds helpful annotations to provide more historical background, or expand on various aspects of the story.

    This is an admirable, readable, and inspiring book, which develops a realistic portrait of Francis as a product of his times, including some of the puzzling, and irritating acceptance of and commitment to some beliefs or assumptions of the ignorant age, and a puzzling commitment to the formalities and liturgy of the Catholic Church, including obedience to authorities whom he felt were unspiritual and unaware of the spiritual realities he felt had been revealed to him as the basis of his mission in life.

    His commitment to humility and deference became his undoing at the hands of the unscrupulous, power-oriented Cardinal Ugolino, who later became Pope Gregory IX. This manipulator wrested the new, unique and troubling Franciscan order from Francis' control with his acquiescence, because Francis felt obligated by the consistency of his own Rule of life and mission to bow to Ugolino's demand, after months of badgering in which he kept trying to make his viewpoint and call clear.

    Francis never gave up on his attempt to faithfully follow the insights of his calling to non-conformity. Because of the changes made by Ugolino, even before Francis' death, his order had become just one more of the hierarchy's ecclesiastical arms, opposite to the original intention of the founder.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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