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on 30 April 2014
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. On hearing what Angelou had done, Francis said, "you have behaved like a man with no religion at all", and giving him the bread and wine he had received as wages that day, asked him to "serve these unfortunate men with humility and good humor, then, and not until then, tell them to stop robbing and killing". The outcome? The brigands were not only converted, but joined the fraternity , and "died the death of saints".
Spoto also gives an insight into the different personalities of those who joined his fraternity, and the changes/challenges that occurred as growing numbers wanted to join Francis's way of life . As Spoto argues, Francis wished others to be free from the obsession with money and things; to have a total dependence on God was liberating for him,not a deprivation. " Who are You my dearest God? And what am I, but your useless servant" was his mantra. I for one want to lead a less materialistic and self centred life after reading this book. Thank you, and as Francis said to everyone he met, "May the Lord give you peace!".
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on 30 November 2010
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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on 24 July 2017
I read 3 other books on ST Francis of Assisi. This best book on the life this extraordinary and fascinating saint is the best on the planet. The author has a deep affinity with the spiritual life. The best of the best.
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on 21 April 2017
Item arrived as expected.
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on 22 July 2007
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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on 28 May 2014
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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on 22 November 2010
What makes a good biography? Intellectual excellence, purity and modesty. What makes a good Saint? Purity of heart. I find this book to be the greatest biography I have ever read. The author is as unconscious in the beauty of his writing as St. Francis was radiant in his charm. Qualities we can all aspire to. A must read for all who wish to know about the life of Francis of Assisi and consider him to be an ambassador of grace.

Jenny L. Bates, author of "Opening Doors: An equilog of poetry about Donkeys"
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on 17 March 2013
This is not at all an academic book, though the extent by which the author goes into detail to describe the very different world in which violence, death and poverty was commonplace is impressive. The author describe this in great clarity, easy to understand laymen term. Suggested for all readers!
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on 16 July 2014
Reluctant Saint: Life of Francis of Assisi.

This is a brilliant work of art from Donald Spoto. This is the 2nd book I've read on St Francis and is brilliant. Donald is very honest when it comes to tell the story of St Francis which deserves credit on its own, most people who write about saints tend to leave the negatives out even if they are only the writers speculations.

I couldn't put this book down, its a really easy and enjoyable read. Donald also put in a lot of information about the popes of St Francis' time which helps paint the picture of his era.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is looking for either an insight to St Francis life or an insight to the Catholic lifestyle of his era.

I personally would read another Donald Spoto book if I come across one which appeals to me.
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on 20 February 2014
Donald Spoto is perhaps the best biographer of our times, and this is a book not to be missed.
A lot of writers, theologians and others, have written about Saint Francis of Assizi, however no one
has been so close to write about this most loved saint as Spoto.
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