Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

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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."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801450709
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 04/20/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 499,952
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Part I The Life

1 "When I Was in My Sins," 1181-1205 3

2 The Penitent from Assisi, 1206-1209 19

3 The Primitive Fraternity, 1209-1215 34

4 Expansion and Consolidation, 1216-1220 54

5 Francis Returns Home, 1220-1221 72

6 Rules and Retirement, 1221-1223 91

7 The Way of the Cross, 1223-1225 110

8 From Penitent to Saint, 1225-1226 126

For Further Reading 143

Part II Sources and Debates

Preliminary Note 149

List of Abbreviations 151

On the "Franciscan Question" 153

On Chapter 1 171

On Chapter 2 189

On Chapter 3 207

On Chapter 4 223

On Chapter 5 236

On Chapter 6 249

On Chapter 7 261

On Chapter 8 271

Bibliography 279

Index 293

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Francis of Assisi: A New Biography 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The biography is carefully researched and avoids legends of the famous saint. The latter half of the book discusses the sources, scholarship, and how to approach a historically sound life. Informative reading.