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A Mended and Broken Heart: The Life and Love of Francis of Assisi Hardcover – July 1, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Murray (The Beliefnet Guide to Evangelical Christianity) lowered herself into ancient ruins, chatted with nuns behind iron grilles and pored over documents in four languages to research and write this story of Francis of Assisi, the medieval saint whose appeal is timeless. In a work that is both scholarly and engaging, Murray retells the life of this complicated man—who was poet, warrior, knight, lover, madman and saint—in a way that even those familiar with Francis's story will find compelling. Of special interest is the way she handles the relationship between Francis and Clare of Assisi. Acknowledging what scholars and historians have tended to dismiss as sentimental, modern and implausible, Murray holds that the pair's attachment was rooted in love, but that it evolved into a mutual renunciation and remained pure as they took religious vows. She also shows that the age difference between Francis and Clare may not have been great enough to support the official Catholic position that their bond was merely that of father and daughter. (July)
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"Roanoke Times"
"Wendy Murray has given us a book that can awaken depths of the spirit in both believers and nonbelievers.... Artfully and sensitively written, [the final chapter] alone is worth the price of the book."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1St Edition edition (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002085
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,035,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on October 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wendy Murray wrote her book to prove that St. Francis' deep conversion was the direct result of a platonic love affair of sorts with St. Clare. The evidence that she brings to bear is weak and rises to not more than the level of speculation and in some ways is no more than outright gossip. In addition, Murray reports that Francis' early life was whitewashed by the Catholic Church to keep the faithful from knowing the true extent of his libertine lifestyle prior to his conversion. In the end though, there is no smoking gun here either, but only a refutation from her sources that said that, despite being the leader of his partying friends, Francis was not prurient. In the end, then, the primary argument for her thesis is without claim, as are ancillary claims about Francis. The book also ends with a poor and obviously strained effort by Murray to culminate with a dramatic literary flair but the effort falls far short of the goal.

There is enough interesting history here, however, to make the book a worthwhile read: the constant warring among cities, including the involvement of Assisi; the allure of knighthood and the crusades; and the battle between the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy, for example. The characters that took part in Francis' life, from St. Clare to the Pope to Francis' fellow friars, are also interesting, as are, in particular, the details of Francis' life, from his early days as a partier, to his conversion, to his efforts to create an order and ultimately to his struggle with illnesses near the end of his life. Ignoring the backdrop of an attempted expose, A Broken and Mended Heart remains a good short biography of St. Francis and a history of his times.
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Format: Hardcover
Prior reviewers use as a premise for their reviews, the theorized "love affair" between St. Clare and St. Francis and seem to be evaluating this book on the basis of whether or not the author "proved" without a shadow of a doubt a torrid (sexual?) affair...Setting this premise aside, this book does provide insights into the life and love(s) of St. Francis and some of the not so saintly things about his life. As a premise for this review, so many times "Lives of the Saints" stories are sanitized and homogenized and pasteurized so that the portrayal of saints' lives are elevated onto a pedestal that no human being can hope to attain. That is NOT the case with Murray's book and that is the primary reason I liked the book. She shows some of the very real human foibles of St. Francis. This helps me to relate to his story, his life and his conversion. He did not get along well with his father, a well to do cloth merchant. Prior reviewers report that the church whitewashed some of the aspects of Francis' earlier life and that is most likely true. However, if one also reads the Confessions of St. Augustine Confessions of St. Augustine, The: Modern English Version, here too is a Saint who also readily admits to a decadent life prior to conversion. One thing I like about Murray's treatment is her portrayal of Sir Knight Francis, that is to say, the machismo young man of his times who gets rolled up into fantasies of heroic knighthood adventures. Also, when describing Francis' conversion, Murray takes pains to describe to us Francis' revulsion to people with leprosy.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
A biography of St. Francis and St. Clare which draws upon and speculates closely adherent to the literal documentation available regarding the two saints. I had not been aware that so much actual documentation existed regarding Francesco. Was interested to learn the large influence of knightly idealism in his life. Did not feel Murray's conclusions about a special relationship between Francis and Clare were far-fetched.

Interpreting Frances' spirituality, Murray writes that Francis' canticle at the end of his life sums up his idea that God alone is Altissima, the highest omnipotent God, and that all creation and all creatures "have been fashioned to participate in a COSMIC PERFORMANCE, one sung in every landscape by each participant in that landscape, and each is unified in a single purpose of GIVING BACK TO GOD the beauty and originality of his own PERSONALITY." (word emphasis mine) She points out that Francis' canticle is not, as usually supposed, a "sort of nature worship." She says that whereas in the Psalms creation is the recipient of God as the Maker's handiwork, in the Canticle, God is the recipient as nature gives back to God the beauty and originality he bestowed on it. So, the scheme that Murray perceives in Frances' spirituality is: God as the giver, and nature as giver back to God, making nature a point of intersection between this world and the next. Eden is restored, she says, for Francis and Clare in their "upward reach to Heaven," p.146. "And not just thanking him specifically for the one who gave up every worldly dream and desire to stretch his arms on a cross....Frances would say those arms make all creatures DEBTORS. The PERFORMANCE is the thank you," p. 185. "Francis would say time--this life--renders the opportunity to make decisions.
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