Reviews

When Saint Francis Saved the Church

Monday 13 October 2014
 
THIS is a work of popular history in the style of Thomas Cahill’s bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilisation. Author Jon Sweeney presents an account of the beloved St Francis of Assisi as a hinge in the history of the Christian faith, who in just 14 years—from 1205 to 1219—transformed the Church and continues to remain an inspiration in our own time, hence the book’s subtitle, ‘How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages’.

The author’s numerous previous books include several on St Francis and Franciscan spirituality, and he was translator of the saint’s own writings in Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings (2013).

Here he writes: ‘... there are signal figures who are catalysts for rapid change. They are worth focussing on, not only because examining their lives closely helps us understand a previous era, but because understanding them can tell us something important about who we are today. Francis of Assisi was such a figure: extraordinary, seemingly unlike (and inaccessible to) us normal people. Yet studying his life offers us a way to understand ourselves and our place on this planet better. Francis originated a spirit that still animates us, nearly 800 years after his death.’

 
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