OK – I have 2 confessions to make:

1.)  It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted either a blog or a book review.  No excuses…just a promise to TRY to be more regular with contributions 🙂  I wanted to get this review posted for St. Francis’ Feast Day on Oct. 4th…Can anyone tell me where the month of October went?  How is it almost November?  I think I am stuck in a time warp.

2.) In this post, I am reviewing a new biography about St. Francis of Assisi written by a Dominican…and I began reading it wholly based upon the fact that I really like the picture on the front cover.

And I am so glad I did.

Fr. Augustine presents a portrait of St. Francis as unique as the icon on the cover…and as realistic too.  Regarding the cover, the artist who painted this image actually met St. Francis.  And so, very likely, this is what he looked like.  And I think it can be said that the portrait that Fr. Augustine Thompson paints is quite realistic as well, having ‘met’ Francis through the many and varied sources of that the author sifted through.

The book is broken down into two sections.  The first is a readable biography (though, I would suggest that perhaps having some background info on the Saint would help make the biography more digestible and make the approach to the Saint’s life more well-rounded).  The second is an annotated examination of the historical sources about the Saint.  This section helps to unpack how the author reached his conclusions.

The two points that I found most thought-provoking about the biographical section are:

  1. Again and again, the author highlights the common thread that runs throughout the Saint’s life (post-conversion), and especially in his writing.  Before reading this, I would have supposed that this common thread would be his love for Lady Poverty.  But again and again in this book we see that it was actually his two-fold love for the Eucharist and the Priesthood.  Being a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, striving to follow in St. Francis’ footsteps, I found this to be especially consoling.  Our Order is dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration, and committed in a particular way to prayerful intercession for priests.  Realizing the primacy that this held in the heart of St. Francis, I rejoice to know these same loves hold pride of place in my heart as well! – and in the communal heart of our Order.
  2. This book presented a very unique perspective on the interior sufferings of St. Francis, his struggles, and his purification.  And it was fearsome.  I applaud the author for so condensing a great number of sources and distilling a vast number of opinions and speculations, then supporting his conclusions so systematically.

Reading this bio, I feel as though I know St. Francis in a different way, see him in a very human light, and love him even more.    Thank you, Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.!