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The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis - 120th Anniversary Edition Anniversary Edition
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first modern biography of Francis of Assisi. It was a worldwide bestseller, and in 2003 when this new edition was first published, it again sold more than 60,000 copies and was a selection of History Book Club.
This new 120th anniversary edition includes a dozen additional annotations and a new preface by the editor, putting Sabatier’s influential work into
its historical context, showing why it is still the most essential life of the saint.
About the Author
Paul Sabatier (1858-1928) was educated in Paris and served as a pastor in Strasbourg. In mid-life, he dedicated himself to research and writing about Francis. His pioneering work has influenced the work of generations of scholars and biographers since his time.
Jon M. Sweeney is the author of many books including The Pope Who Quit, which was recently optioned by HBO.
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This book is a translation of Paul Sabatier’s great biography, edited by Jon M. Sweeney for clarity regarding language and verbiage, and with good annotations filling in much background material related to context of people, places and events that occurred that effected Francis and the formation of his Order. What is truly impressive is that Paul Sabatier was a Protestant who writes with deep affection for Saint Francis, Deeply concerned to give an accurate account of The Little Brother, consequently leaving out or not going into great detail on some of the stories and legends. For instance, he does mention the miracle of Saint Francis stepping into the fire before the Sultan and God protected him from being burned and thereby winning over the Sultan, along with the miracle of the Stigmata, and others, but stays more scholarly regarding historical facts about Francis’s life overall. He also tells the divisions that developed between the Order, the Church and even Francis’s own followers and the sad lack of conviction that deeply tore at his soul as he fought to keep the Order true to what God had told him to do.
There are many great biographies on Saint Francis, some which give more details of his miracles, but this book gives you a scholarly look at Francis and his times and the obstacles he had to overcome, and shows the pure humility and devotion and love of Saint Francis for God, The Gospel, the poor and sick, and his deep lifelong love of nature, something which inspired his faith right up until his last breath.
What I liked. First, it is extremely well written--eloquent even. Second, I learned a lot about the history of the period and the customs of the times. I did not realize how important to glimpsing Francis that would be. The author did. Third, the author appears neither for nor against the Catholic Church. I wanted sobriety in the author, and he delivered. I think a reviewer or two did not like the annotations: I appreciated them.
Why not a five star review then? That is hard to say: it just lacked something that I can't put words to. But I do recommend it, and in fact bought it for my parents to enjoy. I think you may enjoy it, too.
In this world of "spiritual materialism," Francis provides a respite, am example and an inspiration. This book will give you a nicely done window into that world. And the world of a man who placed more emphasis in loving Jesus with all his heart and living as Jesus did, rather than talking about it from a place of duplicity an inauthenticity. Therein was his power and the force he unleashed.
I now have more insight into the new Pope, I think. He seems to be sending a clear message regarding his vision for the Catholic Church. One I appreciate.
It's a good translation and finely edited by John Sweeney, who has added sidebar annotations that contribute to understanding the people and places in Francis's time.