ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI - Poor Little Rich Man
By Allan Procter
Published by Melrose Press Limited
St Thomas Place, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4GG
105 pages Hardback One Black & White Photograph
St Francis came from a prosperous background amongst the merchants of northern Italy but early in his life he turned away from the life of a soldier and answered God's call to: "Go and repair my house, which you see is falling down." After repairing some tumbledown churches Francis and his followers began their life of poverty, travelling and preaching. This was in direct contrast with other orders within the church at the time where great store was set by buildings and possessions. Aided by sympathetic Bishops and Popes the order flourished and continues to this day, its members living by the rule of St Francis and wearing the plain white rope belt that he did. In 1228, just two years after Francis's death Pope Gregory IX declared Francis to be a saint.
Allan Procter devotes much time to Francis's relationships with other people, such as his father, fellow citizens of Assisi, prices of the church, the Sultan of Egypt, but also fellow friars, lepers and beggars. Relatively little space cover animals for which this saint is perhaps best known today. However, larks, a falcon, a leveret and the Wolf of Gubbio all receive mention. The last named may have been a metaphor for a robber whom Francis converted although many centuries later a wolf's skull was found where this "wolf" had been honourably buried.
Here is a simple tale told in an easy to read fashion that will appeal to the young yet mentioning topics which may provoke thought in the mature reader. Many of Francis's writings are quoted and there is a bibliography of sources used; significantly very few are of recent date. "Lives of Saints" used to be a popular book form but appears to have gone out of fashion lately. This is a charming read.
14th March, 2011.
John Roll Pickering.