Saint Francis by Robert West
Francis was a wild young man, and lived in times of warring city states in Italy. He was very taken with the idea of being a knight and was the ringleader of a group of local playboys nicknamed the "Sons of Babylon". He had a natural charisma and charm which attracted others to join in his lifestyle. He lived for pleasure, partied hard, and used much of his father's ample income on the most luxurious clothes, food and entertainment. After being taken prisoner for a year and treated terribly, he began to question the true meaning of life. During this process he opened the door of his heart to God, began to immerse himself in the reading of the Bible, and to turn aside from all that had kept him distracted from being a truly loving person. The change came slowly, but for Francis he knew this call meant a radical poverty which seems odd today: sleeping on the ground, begging for food, not having warm clothes etc. This, however, was never an end in itself but more an opportunity to make space in his heart for God.
As the book comments: "It is a concept that few people can understand, because living for most of us has always been driven by the desire to acquire whatever might satisfy, not just our needs, but our desires... He saw what most people see only in brief flashes... that such a preoccupation can be a form of slavery... he believed that our headlong pursuit of "things" tragically deprives us of the most precious possession of all- the presence of God! That presence had become the source of the greatest joy Francis had ever known... "Lady Poverty" may have been adorned in rags, but she was the lady of the palace of God." In the materialistic and hedonistic world in which we live today, Francis has a timeless tale to tell of what will truly bring us happiness and peace.
The book provides context for Francis' life and goes into detail about historical events which impacted upon him at the time. It also sketches a picture of the difficulties he faced from his own father in seeking to follow God before everything else. The flourishing of his Christian life and growth of the friars is another remarkable proof of God's power during this historical period. At the time of his death there were over 3,000 friars following the life Francis was living.
Francis died on October 3rd, 1226 and was canonized(declared a saint) only 2 years later. This is also remarkable, as the process usually takes decades and sometimes centuries for a thorough investigation of a persons life to ensure they were consistent in their holiness and a true example to others of a life worthy of imitation.
This book is part of Thomas Nelson Publishers 'Christian Encounters' series, which aims to make it seem that "we are now living in the world that they created and understand both it and ourselves better in the light of their lives." Robert West certainly achieves this purpose, and it would complement some of the other more well-known biographies of St Francis such as "The Little Flowers of St Francis" and those written by Thomas of Celano and Bonaventure.
Saint Francis was born a person. This is a fact sometimes overlooked when reading other biographies as his life is so extraordinary it seems his humanity is unlikely, but it was in the truth of his humanity as brought out in this book that makes his holiness and the miracles associated with his life an even greater testament to the power of God in all of our lives, and the way anyone can have the same power when they love God more than anything else, especially more than themselves.
Disclaimer~ This review was written by Lucy (commonly referred to on my blog as Grown Up Lucy). Homeschooling mum to 2 little people and my homeschooling mentor. Lucy loves Booksneeze so I'm happy to share my blog with her, and this being her first review. You can absolutely tell I didn't write it! Thanks Lucy.
Lucy received a complimentary copy of this book through the Booksneeze program for the purpose of reviewing.