Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Francis of Assisi

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Francis of Assisi

Article excerpt


By Andre Vauchez (Yale Press, 2012)


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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