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Reluctant Saint: Life of Francis of Assisi (Compass) Paperback – 30 Sep 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (30 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196250
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An engaging and revealing portrait of a remarkable man." --("The Hartford Courant)



"As with The Hidden Jesus, [Spoto again] produces a serious, thought-provoking book." --("Booklist")

About the Author

Donald Spoto, author of The Hidden Jesus, taught theology, Christian mysticism and biblical literature at the university level for twenty years. His other eighteen books include internationally bestselling biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Tennessee Williams and Ingrid Bergman.


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Format: Hardcover
Celebrity biographer Spoto who is recognized for his definitive biographies of such luminaries as Tennessee Williams, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ingrid Bergman is also a biblical scholar. For over twenty years he taught theology on the college level, which may well have been rich background for his acclaimed "The Hidden Jesus" (1998). He now turns his attention to another religious figure - Saint Francis of Assisi.
If ever there was an unlikely candidate for sainthood it was Francis. He came from a prosperous family, was rebellious, served as a soldier, and made a place for himself in the business world of his time. Is this the Francis that we revere today because of his unselfish kindness and compassion? The story of his transformation, although probably well known, is presented with fresh insights by Spoto.
The author views Francis from the standpoint of history, and infuses his biography with telling details of religion and society during Francis's day. Given these insights our traditional view of the saint is enhanced. In addition, readers learn a great deal about the turmoil and violence which was rampant in medieval Italy.
After reading this thoughtful study one no longer sees Francis as a thin other worldly figure surrounded by animals. That stereotypical picture is replaced by a portrait of an authentic human being, thanks to Donald Spoto.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have no argument with the other 3 reviewers above, this really is a superb and very moving biography.

Be warned - the author is quite partisan, and is clearly a fond believer in (and has a very clear understanding of) the supreme power of selfless love, never mind whether it's cloaked in organized religion or the humble garb of a poor mystic. There's no codology about selfish genes here. And you don't need to be a Christian to be affected by this book.

However, I was rather disappointed to find so little on Francis' love of animals. It is finally mentioned around page 100, and 4 pages there take up the subject, including back-ground information on other medieval Christians' similar love of animals. The subject is given honourable, but brief, mention a few times again, including (movingly) at the end. But I feel for such an animal lover they would have featured much more visibly in his daily life and that is largely absent from most of the book.
I feel it wise to consider this if his relationship to animals is a subject you are researching.

And yet, I cannot bring myself to deduct a star, this book is that good.
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Format: Paperback
Donald Spoto captures the essence of St Francis of Assissi with his sympathetic interpretation of the life and conversion of this widely loved Saint.

Brilliantly written. I gained so much from this read. Donald Spoto imparted his slant on religion mysticism and christianty with deep empathetic perception, whilst taking me through the historical events surrounding St Francis.

Now of course I am hooked, and I am currently reading The Hidden Jesus.
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Donald Spoto's biography on St Francis of Assisi is thoroughly researched, informative and such a compelling read, I could not put this book down. One thing is for sure, Spoto can write, and who better to write about than St Francis, a truly exceptional follower of Christ who lived the Gospel with every fibre of his being. Spoto brings to life medieval Europe in the 12th/13th centuries, we learn what type of life Francis led before his conversion, the circumstances that led to his conversion, and how his practice of radical poverty, austere self denial, and willingness to always help those in need (humans and animals alike) was an example to everyone. I learned so much about the historical, cultural, religious and social events surrounding Francis's life, but especially about Francis himself; he was without doubt truly inspirational. Though uneducated, he was wiser than many of the learned of his time, courageous - he sought martyrdom, was compassionate, and incredibly humble (he took the gospel literally in that he had no tunic, sandals or staff), and was strongly against power, status and ownership of wealth (especially within the church). "Your life is too hard and severe, said Pope Innocent to Francis, "where will you obtain the necessities of life"? As one would expect, Francis replied, "I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ". Spoto relates how, while Francis was away preaching, a trio of violent robbers approached Angelou Tarlati (one of the brothers), for food, he severely rebuked them and sent them packing.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
St Francis put the wild days of his youth behind him, because God touched his heart, soul and mind.
His total love for his saviour and his deep awareness of the suffering, outcast, rejected Christ enabled Francis to embrace absolute poverty (with joy) and reach out to others who were rejected by society - the lepers, the poor, the unloved and the unwanted. With an all encompassing love of nature, he invited all of creation - animals, plants, natural forces, including Brother Sun and Sister Moon to honour their maker (as he did). He fostered compassion and sought peace at a time when power, status; institutionalised religion and brutal warfare ruled the day (in many ways it still does).
The acute suffering of Francis, coupled by his total dependence on God nearer the end of his life is heart-rending. Donald Spoto has produced a book that goes beyond accomplished writing - this book could ultimately change hearts and minds. Having read this book, I want to lead a life less cluttered by materialism and more focused on love of God, nature and neighbour.
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