Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Francis of Assisi

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Francis of Assisi

Article excerpt

FRANCIS OF ASSISI

By Andre Vauchez (Yale Press, 2012)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Francis the ecologist, Francis the stigmatic, Francis the peace activist, Francis the crusader. With so many Francis of Assisis, anyone can pick a favorite. In Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint, Andre Vauchez argues that previous attempts to find the "real" Francis often begin with a version of the saint in mind and then go hunting for evidence to prove that version correct. Unfortunately, the result is not a man or even a saint, but a one-dimensional figure existing outside of history.

Vauchez corrects these past errors by demonstrating that Francis, along with his fellow friars, crafted the Franciscan message for a wide range of audiences. The result of Vauchez's approach is that it draws a refreshingly complex portrait of one of Catholicism's most familiar figures.

Describing Francis' conversion from upper-middle class knight to the poor man of Assisi, Vauchez qualifies the trope of Francis' radical rejection of wealth and the secular world. …

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