What a fascinating life that rich son of an Italian merchant had! Destined for a military career, Francis Bernadone chose to abandon everything so as to answer God's call. Poverty and humility would be his two constant companions. Disinherited by his father, Francis placed himself at the service of the poorest of the poor, lived exclusively on alms, and practiced charity among the lepers. The thirteenth century was in search of spirituality, and so disciples flocked to him, drawn by his ideal. He had to devise a rule, and Pope Innocent II was the one who approved it in 1209. The Friars Minor were born, and now they could spread the word about God.
Despite numerous persecutions, Francis and his companions never lost heart in carrying out their mission. They could be found in all four corners of the known world; Francis himself traveled to Egypt, then to Palestine, before running to his native Italy, where he died in 1226, marked with the stigmata of Christ. He was an exceptional man, who dedicated himself to an exceptional religious family. The Church would declare him a saint.
Much more than an edifying book on the spiritual life of this major figure of the Medieval West, Saint Francis of Assisi by Ivan Gobry restores a profoundly human dimension to the Little Poor Man of Assisi: a Francis who is a far cry from the sublime image that has become conventional.