St. Francis of Assisi: The Legend and the Life

St. Francis of Assisi: The Legend and the Life

by Michael Robson

Paperback

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Overview

St Francis of Assisi is arguably the most popular, the most accessible and the best loved of all the saints. In his lifetime he was regarded as a saint. Today he is claimed, by Christians and non-Christians alike, as a spiritual focus for groups and people concerned with the sanctity of creation, with ecumenism, with inter-faith matters, and with animal rights. The myth of Francis is one that has immense relevance for our time. Here, historian and theologian Michael Robson looks behind the myth and discovers a man, growing up in a particular time and place, deeply influenced by the people around him. Robson's Francis is not the idealized saint whose strings are pulled from above by an all-controlling God, but a man whose life's journey, with its struggles and doubts, loves and hates, was profoundly affected by his relationships with men and women in his own family, in the Church, and in his own city, and by the wider political context of thirteenth-century Europe. Who were these people? How was it forged, the legend of this man whose spiritual legacy to the world has proved so influential? This unique and scholarly book is a biography with a difference, approaching the life of Francis through the thoughts and writings of those who knew him: his parents, the local bishop, Pope Innocent III, Cardinal Ugolino, St Anthony of Padua, and, of course, St Clare. As such, it will prove a source of delight and fascination to lovers and followers of the saint himself, to historians, and to anyone who ever wondered what the connection is between real life and saintliness, and also how living with a legend affects those who come into contact with it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780225668766
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2000
Pages: 305
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.75(d)

Table of Contents

Introductionvi
Acknowledgementsxii
Abbreviationsxiii
Glossaryxv
Chronologyxx
1Peter Bernardone1
Christianity and medieval Assisi1
Francis's family7
Troubled relations between Assisi and Perugia12
Military ambition thwarted by sickness15
Francis and the leper18
Beginnings of a vocation22
2Bishop Guido II of Assisi31
Episcopal appeal and Francis's renunciation32
Guido as the vicar of San Rufino and patron saints of Assisi38
Guido's defence of his episcopal heritage41
Benevolent episcopal intervention43
Incipient fraternity46
Guido at the papal court48
Guido, Francis and Clare51
Francis's respect for bishops and priests54
Francis's death and canonization56
3Pope Innocent III62
The papacy and St Francis62
Innocent III and reform groups69
Francis's quest for papal approval71
Lateran IV, ecclesiastical reform and Francis77
Franciscans and the restoration of the Church86
4Lady Poverty94
Poverty and the conversion experiences94
Wealth and divisions in society98
The monastic world and Francis100
The reappraisal of the apostolic life103
Gospel texts and poverty105
Povetty embraced112
Imitation of the Poor Christ and nuptial imagery115
Medieval perception of Francis and his fraternity118
5Ugolino, cardinal protector and then Pope Gregory IX126
The growth of the fraternity126
The meeting in Florence130
Appointment of a cardinal protector132
Cardinal and Francis137
Francis instructs Ugolino139
Interventions by Ugolino142
Approval of the Rule144
Gregory IX and the Franciscans147
6St Anthony of Padua and the development of theological study158
Anthony's early life158
An Augustinian canon at Lisbon and then Coimbra (c. 1210-20)160
Friar Anthony165
The ministry of preaching168
Measures to combat the spread of heresy170
Francis and the need for theological study172
The origin of Franciscan schools174
Anthony, patron of Franciscan schools176
Franciscan perception of theology178
The debate about studies180
7St Clare, the faithful custodian of Francis's ideals187
Clare's family187
Manifestations of a vocation and Francis's impact188
Clare's conversion191
Temporary refuge and family opposition195
San Damiano and the vocations of Francis and Clare199
Francis's reliance on Clare202
Clare in Thomas of Celano's biographies205
Clare and the Roman Curia209
8Francis as the herald of the great king218
An enlarged cloister218
Francis's preaching220
Francis the teacher and actor224
Francis's praise of God in song and musical instruments228
Sermons in parishes230
Sanctification of the piazza232
Ministry of peace and reconciliation234
Ecumenical reconciliation236
Communion with all creation239
9St Francis's death, burial and posthumous influence on the fraternity249
Medieval conventions regarding the burial of saints250
Arrangements for the death and burial of Francis254
Francis's death at the Portiuncula and burial at San Giorgio258
The proclamation of Francis's stigmata262
Towards canonization265
Basilica of St Francis and the Sacro Convento267
Francis's posthumous influence on an expanding fraternity270
The biographies and the portrait of the exemplary friar273
Bibliography281
Index290

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