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The Road To Assisi: The Essential Biography Of St. Francis

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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 he did. His brothers had to guard him closely as he died in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Fr 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 he did. His brothers had to guard him closely as he died in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Francis of Assisi? Paul Sabatier, 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. This updated, twenty-first century edition of Sabatier’s biography is supplemented by the insights of many other scholars and writers, from Bonaventure and Dante to G. K. Chesterton and Umberto Eco.


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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 he did. His brothers had to guard him closely as he died in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Fr 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 he did. His brothers had to guard him closely as he died in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Francis of Assisi? Paul Sabatier, 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. This updated, twenty-first century edition of Sabatier’s biography is supplemented by the insights of many other scholars and writers, from Bonaventure and Dante to G. K. Chesterton and Umberto Eco.

30 review for The Road To Assisi: The Essential Biography Of St. Francis

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Pretty good book that got better after a sort of slow start. For the first few chapters, it seemed as though the author was getting sidetracked writing about things that weren't all too relevant in regards to Francis' life. But that was just at the beginning. What I liked best about the book was that it didn't just glorify Francis. It also explored some of his flaws as well. Although I admit that I do think this was probably done completely unintentionally by the author. In many areas of the book, Pretty good book that got better after a sort of slow start. For the first few chapters, it seemed as though the author was getting sidetracked writing about things that weren't all too relevant in regards to Francis' life. But that was just at the beginning. What I liked best about the book was that it didn't just glorify Francis. It also explored some of his flaws as well. Although I admit that I do think this was probably done completely unintentionally by the author. In many areas of the book, the author makes Francis seem somewhat bossy and possibly even power-hungry in some respects. Raising his voice to members of his order. Barking commands. Where to sleep. What to eat. When to eat. What to clean. Where to preach. What work to do. Whoaaaaaa. Easy there boss man. Have some wine and relax. It also appeared very important to him to have disciples in the same manner of Jesus, which, to me, comes across as mildly arrogant as well. I mean come on, whether you had a vision of being another chosen one or not, there's only one Jesus. He has no equals. The author also shows Francis' hypocritical side. Anybody who knows anything about Francis knows he is a devout lover of animals. There are stories of him talking to birds and wolves, and refusing to stomp on worms or spiders. He even forbid his followers to have books because a great amount of sheep-skin was used for paper. Yet he was a meat-eater and even used fox-skin for warmth during a cold period. Huh? In similar hypocritical fashion, despite trying to emulate Jesus as best he could, there are a couple stories showing his unforgiving side, even to the point of holding a grudge on one particular individual towards the end of his life. He told one of his disciples how criminals are always welcome in his order, yet he kicked out one of his members for failing to obey one of his orders. My favorite story is of him forcing one of his members to consume donkey excrement as a penalty for speaking badly about one of the other members. Hmmmmm. For someone trying to emulate Jesus in every possible way, I'm not sure if that's the way to go about doing it. I mean, I don't ever recall Jesus saying, "Hey Mary Magdalene you freaking slut, get over here and eat this sheep dung." Maybe I'm wrong though. With all that being said, Francis was an exceptional human being. Showing generosity, compassion and humility a vast majority of the time. And equally as brave and courageous to leave a life of luxury he was born into to voluntarily take up a life of poverty (not unlike the Buddha) while helping others, treating everybody equally and preaching Jesus' word. If everybody that walked the earth was like Francis, I think we'd have a pretty good world to live in. But not even saints are perfect. Just like the book itself. Very good, but short of perfect.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    A book about the life and times of St. Francis and his contemporaries. Sabatier wrote this book in 1894 and it was a bestseller when published. It is a well researched book that gives a vivid picture of St. Francis's everyday life and the struggles of Christian church. Maybe this is why it was on the Vatican's forbidden book list. A book about the life and times of St. Francis and his contemporaries. Sabatier wrote this book in 1894 and it was a bestseller when published. It is a well researched book that gives a vivid picture of St. Francis's everyday life and the struggles of Christian church. Maybe this is why it was on the Vatican's forbidden book list.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Informative history of St Francis life. A bit slow at times.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I craved more literal information. I have very little understanding as to why St Francis is so revered.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alasdair Kay

    A well researched and edited book . A good opening and faster to the Saint

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richard Hedrick

    Now rather dated with annotations that interupt rather than illuminate.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cyd

    This is Sabatier's original, somewhat legend-enhanced bio of St. Francis, with Sweeney's updates via sidebars and notes. This is Sabatier's original, somewhat legend-enhanced bio of St. Francis, with Sweeney's updates via sidebars and notes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Geo Forman

    The author devoted his later life to historical writing after serving his early years as a pastor in Strasbourg. First published in 1894, this edition is wonderfully annotated by a very able religious author with an additional 100 years of research at his disposal. This is my first introduction to St. Francis. Knowing basically nothing about him other than the well known pictures of him surrounded by wildlife, the entire book was revelatory to me. Francis started out as a spoiled, party boy in Ass The author devoted his later life to historical writing after serving his early years as a pastor in Strasbourg. First published in 1894, this edition is wonderfully annotated by a very able religious author with an additional 100 years of research at his disposal. This is my first introduction to St. Francis. Knowing basically nothing about him other than the well known pictures of him surrounded by wildlife, the entire book was revelatory to me. Francis started out as a spoiled, party boy in Assisi. He ended up turning his back on his inheritance after a revelation while rebuilding a small chapel not far from Assisi. Instead of fighting the church, he accepted the priests and pope thereby gaining their acceptance. He surrendered control of his order when he realized he could no longer govern such a rapidly growing family. He would chastise others in the order when they strayed from his ideals of poverty and serving others. He was particularly incensed when the order started building monasteries rather than living simply in huts and caves. Requires another reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathie Harper

    I became intrigued by St. Francis after visiting one of his monasteries on a recent trip. I knew some of the basics about him but wanted a more in-depth overview. This book written by a French Protestant in the 19th century fulfilled that desire. The additions of updated material by a contemporary theologian helped to clarify the text and make it more accessible. Though dense at times, the writing somewhat stilted maybe due to it's origins in a different language, it provided me with a sense of I became intrigued by St. Francis after visiting one of his monasteries on a recent trip. I knew some of the basics about him but wanted a more in-depth overview. This book written by a French Protestant in the 19th century fulfilled that desire. The additions of updated material by a contemporary theologian helped to clarify the text and make it more accessible. Though dense at times, the writing somewhat stilted maybe due to it's origins in a different language, it provided me with a sense of Francis's life, his journey as a Brother, and the foundation often fraught with conflict around the founding of an order that still exists today. After reading this, I can see St. Francis's influence and light shine through in our current Pope. The journey of humility and concern for the disenfranchised of the world continues.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rev. Linda

    Furthering my study of St. Francis, I decided to read a reprint of the biography by Sabatier that was published in 1894..it has been annotated with excellent historical data. Takes a look at the life of St. Francis from the perspective of the times in which he lived. One excerpt was a good example of how St. Francis lived: "On a pilgrimage to Rome, the journey was marked by an important incident. Many a time when surroring the poor he had asked himself if he himeself wold be able to endure pover Furthering my study of St. Francis, I decided to read a reprint of the biography by Sabatier that was published in 1894..it has been annotated with excellent historical data. Takes a look at the life of St. Francis from the perspective of the times in which he lived. One excerpt was a good example of how St. Francis lived: "On a pilgrimage to Rome, the journey was marked by an important incident. Many a time when surroring the poor he had asked himself if he himeself wold be able to endure poverty. No one knows the weight of a burden until he has carried it upon his own shoulders. He desired to know what it is like to have nothing and to depend for bread upon the charity or caprice of the passerby (p. 15)."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristine Hicken

    This 19th century biography of St. Francis is considered one of the best. I can recommend The Road to Assisi to anyone interested in the life of one of Catholicism’s favorite saints. I was hoping for something of a more personal nature, but it was a solid biography of the man, the founding of his Friars and the difficulty he had in keeping the church from changing his ideas; mostly about poverty.

  12. 4 out of 5

    CX Dillhunt

    Started reading in Siena, finished in Barcelona five weeks later. This book was a big influence on my thinkig & writing on this trip, espec. Siena & my time at the glass studio. A must read for any interested in San Francesco! A translation by Jon M. Sweeney of Paul Sabatier's 1894, Vie de S. Francois d'Assise; "edited with a a an in-depth introduction and in valuable annotations by Sweeney. A unique co-authoring results. Started reading in Siena, finished in Barcelona five weeks later. This book was a big influence on my thinkig & writing on this trip, espec. Siena & my time at the glass studio. A must read for any interested in San Francesco! A translation by Jon M. Sweeney of Paul Sabatier's 1894, Vie de S. Francois d'Assise; "edited with a a an in-depth introduction and in valuable annotations by Sweeney. A unique co-authoring results.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Of course I had heard of St. Francis but did not really know anything about his life. Now I do. Quite the little nut case. I am not convinced that one must live such a bereft life to exhibit saintliness. Abusing oneself seems to fly in the face of the gift of life. However, he is quite a fascinating figure nonetheless.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this in Assisi which made it very real--the surroundings are so beautiful! Even though St. Francis lived in the middle ages, it's amazing how many parallels there are to our times. His doctrine of simplicity and love for God's creation are timeless. I read this in Assisi which made it very real--the surroundings are so beautiful! Even though St. Francis lived in the middle ages, it's amazing how many parallels there are to our times. His doctrine of simplicity and love for God's creation are timeless.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sister

    I liked this book. I decided that since I was at a Franciscan retreat center it would be a good place to do some reading about their patron saint. It was basic enough that I learned a lot about St. Francis and could keep up with the references of the retreat director. I definitely recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Jennings

    Still one of the most readable and enjoyable biographies of St Francis of Assisi

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My limited knowledge on Catholicism was a bit of a hindrance, but I understood most of thid and enjoyed learning a little more about the man and his place in history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Excellent scholary biography about St. Francis of Assisi founder of the Franciscian order of The Poor Men

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steven Tryon

    A superb biography of a complex and beautiful man.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tommy O'Keefe

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dominic DiPrisco

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bill Eaves

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diana

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jason Lesher

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elpy Dee

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