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.
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, Inc.
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August 31, 2004
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