A new biography that reveals the saint as his best friends knew him to be.
Chiara Mercuri argues that the familiar Francis of the catechism and popular anecdote does not begin to take into account the complexity of the real person, because Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a successor of Francis, essentially created “another” Francis. It was Bonaventure, a man who never knew Francis personally, who came to define the great saint. In the mid-1300s, every one of the approximately fifteen hundred Franciscan friaries and about four hundred Claretian convents possessed a copy of the Life of St. Francis by Bonaventure. Today there are some 400 of these writings remaining from the 1200s and 1300s. That is an enormous number that confirms the determination with which Bonaventure pursued his decision to affirm a new image of Francis.
Why was he so determined to recreate the life of the saint who gave his name to the largest spiritual movement that Christendom had ever seen? The effect was to wipe out any trace of the testimony of Francis’s closest companions, and to impose a new, ethereal, almost disembodied image of the follower of Christ.
Mercuri takes the reader back in time to the real Francis of Assisi, revealing with wisdom and clear scholarship the complexities of the social, family, religious, and economic dynamic of the Middle Ages, and the concentric circles of those who knew and wrote about St. Francis from firsthand knowledge. This is a biography of the world’s most popular saint – for everyone!