I just finished reading Francis of Assisi, by Michael de la Bedoyere. Before saying anything about the book, I should start by saying that Francis holds a special place in my heart. I’ve always felt a strong connection to this saint and during my years as a Buddhist he remained my one link to Catholicism. So I’d gladly read anything at all written about Francis, even a comic book.
With that admission, I tremendously enjoyed reading this book. It is a well-written story of the life of Francis that includes accounts of some of the more famous incidents in his life, as well as some that had not been familiar to me.
At one point, the author shares Francis’ view that humans “erred not so much through malice and weakness, but through failure to grasp the meaning of life as taught by Christ.” What so beautifully comes through in this book is the example of a man who did the best he could to live the life taught by Christ; to live the Gospel as literally as he could.
So often we have the tendancy to say, well sure, we can follow the Gospel to a certain extent. But Jesus can’t really have meant that we follow his words literally…no one can possibly live the Gospel fully. And that is exactly what so many people in Francis’ time said to him. But Francis showed them that it could be done. He lived in absolute trust that if he followed the way of Christ, God would give him all that he needed. The book does a wonderful job in revealing the grace of God that flows to one who puts himself or herself completely in God’s hands.
The description on the back cover of the Sophia Institute Press edition of this book strikes me as absolutely correct: “St. Francis of Assisi is a superb model for each of us today: an ordinary man who – by God’s grace – was able to do extraordinary things.”
This review of St. Francis is part of the Catholic book reviewer program of the Catholic Company.