Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The spirit of simplicity, humility, and joyful obedience of Saint Francis of Assisi (c. 1181-1226) and his jubilant followers, who tramped the thirteenth century plains and hills of Italy winning the hearts and minds of countless citizens of their day, is wonderfully captured in The Little Flowers of St. Francis. Not a biography or even a historical chronology of Francis or his movement, The Little Flowers is a collection of incidents drawn together more than one hundred years after Francis’s death. In a straightforward and moving style, the stories capture the buoyancy and childlike innocence of the early medieval spirit and bring one into the Christlike presence of the saint.
Born c. 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant, Francis was an attractive and fun-loving youth given to revelry and worldly excitement. He dreamed of being a soldier and fighting in the Crusades but was captured following a local battle and spent a discouraging year in prison. There followed a long period of illness that led to his awakening to more serious questions about life and to a search for God. At about age twenty-five, following a trip to Rome and attempts to care for lepers, Francis heard God speak to him from the wooden crucifix of an abandoned church at San Damiano: “Francis, go repair my house, which is falling into ruins.” Three times the voice spoke, and when Francis came to himself, he obeyed in the most literal way, by beginning the physical...
(The entire section is 1516 words.)
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