Who was St. Francis of Assisi? Check out a great new biography.

Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP, who posts here now and then, fairly recently published a new biography about St. Francis of Assisi.  This might be a good book for your parish priest or for seminarians or for yourself, as we watch the new pontificate through the lens of the “Poverello”.

I have it and it is very good.  As a matter of fact it is also on my Kindle (and you need a Kindle!).

To buy the book in the USA, click HERE.  When you use my links, I get a small percentage, which really helps.

The Kindle version USA is HERE

I have search boxes for amazon UK and Canada at the bottom of the blog. Cut and paste this into the search box: Francis of Assisi: A New Biography Augustine Thompson

Get up to speed on Francis and Francis and give Fr. Thompson’s book a boost too.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Francis, Saints: Stories & Symbols and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jaykay says:

    “Get up to speed on Francis and give Fr. Thompson’s book a boost too.”

    O.k… just got it via your Kindle link, Fr. and am looking forward to fulfilling both exhortations above :) Seriously, I’ve wanted to find out about the “true” story for some time, as I also am sick to the gills of the burlap-banner mob with their 13th century eco-campaigner-cum-propagandist-for-your-flavour-of-the-month-lefty-cause. A particularly egregious example of this occurred when one of the choirs I sing in was engaged to do a LGTBXYZ carol service in a Unitarian church and the “speaker” was a Franciscan (not so’s you’d know as he was in a particularly scruffy jumper and jeans combo) of a certain age who practically had Francis down as the first flower child gay rights campaigner. I was determined to find out the true picture some time – and now I can.

  2. Now I know that my 15 minutes of fame has begun! I thought it started when I turned down the invitation to appear on Piers Morgan live, but now I am really “on the cover of Rolling Stone.” Thanks, Fr. Z., for this pitch for my book. It is much appreciated.

    I do think it will be of interest to your readers, especially because I focus on an aspect of St. Francis that is almost always ignored in popular presentations: his devotion to the liturgy and his love of the Eucharist. So too, his (in his own time) famous deference to priests and Church leaders. It is of interest that these themes are also central in a magisterial study of Francis and how he has been (mis)understood that appeared in English just after my book: the French scholar Andre Vauchez’s _Francis of Assisi: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval Saint_ (New Haven: Yale U.P., 2012). He is especially interesting for the history of interpretations of St. Francis, something I don’t deal with.

    Sancte Francisce, ora pro nobis et Summo Pontifice!

  3. AAJD says:

    I had Orthodox friends ask me about the Franciscan connection to the papal name, so I asked two of my departmental colleagues–scholars of Francis, Clare, and their legacy–for recommendations. In addition to Fr. Thompson’s fine book, they also recommended several others, discussed here: http://easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com/2013/03/pope-francis-and-his-namesake.html

  4. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I read the book several months back, and it was _very_ good. Usually bios of saints as well known as Francis are full of rehashing old hash. Fr. Thompson’s bio was full of new-to-me info and quotes. You will come out of this with a lot of new ideas about Francis’ priorities and interests and doings.

    There’s also a lot of discussion of sources and previous takes on Francis. That’s not bad and Thompson made it interesting, but obviously that makes it more of a historians-examining-history bio than just a purely narrative one.

  5. Mary T says:

    Just a comment – you do not need a Kindle for the Kindle addition. I have the Kindle app on my Mac and Ipad and they work fine. I much prefer my Ipad to the Kindle I gave away, and you can get all the same books. You just can’t use the “lending library.”

  6. anna 6 says:

    Fr. Thompson,
    The Holy Spirit must have been working overtime when you embarked on your search for the “true” Francis. Your research shatters mythology and helps us to understand what motivated him to devote his life to Christ and His Church and it’s proper worship.

    I mean no disrespect when I say that I hope our new Holy Father reads the book. I know that he will love it.

    Thank you for your work!

    God’s blessings on our beautiful Pope Francis.
    ps. Next time please accept the offer to appear on Piers Morgan!!

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    I just received this book but haven’t read it yet, and I’m glad to hear it’s very good. I’m a secular Franciscan and I’ve read a lot of things about St. Francis, some very old, some very new, some very scholarly, some very superficial, and everything in between. There is a lot out there about this saint and some of it is pretty silly. St. Francis is a lot of things to a lot of people, it seems.

    I look forward to reading this one. The Dominicans and the Franciscans have long-standing affection and regard for each other. It is said that St. Dominic and St. Francis knew each other. The work of the Dominicans, when it comes to the kind of scholarship in this book, is beyond reproach and should always be respected. No one will know us Franciscans better than the Dominicans, who love us as brothers and sisters.

  8. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading it. I have the large “Omnibus” which is a compilation of the writings of Francis, as well as some of the other Franciscan greats. I was glued to that book when I was discerning a Franciscan vocation in Europe in the early 80’s. It remains one of my favorites.

    There are so many false notions of who St. Francis was and what he was about. This book looks good.

  9. Random Friar says:

    I’m a little torn on the Kindle. They have a very pro-gay marriage tv advertisement.

    I’ll save my allowance for something else.

  10. StWinefride says:

    I look forward to reading Fr Thompson’s book.

    My devotion to St Francis began after visiting the “Sacred Made Real” exhibition at the National Gallery in London at the end of 2009. There were several paintings of St Francis by Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664) but my favourite was this one – there was something captivating about it, and was so unlike the usual pictures I had seen in the past, for instance surrounded by birds. This was more serious.


    The story behind the painting:

    According to legend, when Saint Francis’ tomb at Assisi was opened in the presence of Pope Nicholas V in 1449, his body was found to be miraculously preserved and standing upright. The scene is described by one of the Cardinals accompanying the Pope:

    It was a strange thing, that a human body, dead for so long before, should be in that manner in which it was: for it stood up upon the feet; without leaning, or being supported on one side or the other. The eyes were open, as of a living man, and moderately lifted up to heaven. It held the hands covered with the sleeves of the habit before its breast, as the Friars Minorites are wont to hold them. We saw that in that holy foot there was a wound, with the blood as fresh and red, as if it had been then made with a nail on some living body.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    I would like to add one of my very favorite books, written by Valerie Martin. It is the life of St. Francis written “backward” in that the beginning of the book is the end of his life and it moves forward. This is one of the best books on anything I have read. Believe it or not, I could hardly put it down. The writing, to me, was beautifully visual, and there are numerous times I laughed out LOUD at how humorous the friars could be. My favorite, most moving chapter, was a description of one of the friars trying to shout from the side of the road as the King went by. The friar was described as trying so hard to fulfill St. Francis’ request to remind the king he was just a man, and as he finally was able to get close enough to the king’s entourage he shouted out “Your kingdom will not last!” and he was tossed to the side of the road still hollering. It was a superb chapter in what I think a superb book. It is rather hard to find, but worth the look. Another great chapter was the description of the friars and St. Francis meeting the Pope. I felt I was there.

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    Oh! Excuse me, Congratulations, Father Augustine!! Yes it looks as if you have arrived! Well done!

  13. CatholicMD says:

    Just reserved my copy of both books at the library. Very excited to pick them up.

  14. jaykay says:

    Actually reading it now on the train home. It is good, very “accessible” style, lovely writing, easy on the ear if one could put it that way. I’d imagine it would be very good to hear as an audio book, in fact. Thank you, Father Thompson!

  15. Jaykay,

    Your wish is my command! Cornell is in the process of bringing out the audiobook through Amazon ACX as I write. And thanks to all the readers who have posted kind words. RandomFriar might try the paper copy.

  16. Charles E Flynn says:

    After a careful review, I have concluded that the amount of trustworthy information in my head about St. Francis is alarmingly small. The solution is obvious.

  17. Andkaras says:

    We love it when the actual Author reads the audio book.

  18. Charlotte Allen says:

    I can’t recommend this book highly enough. As Fr. Thompson points out, the real St. Francis was a far more interesting character–and even more saintly–than the St. Francis of sentimental legend.

  19. Pax et Bonum! We Franciscans are on a bit of a high I suppose. Though it galls me a little that a Dominican has written a book about our founder (we’ll have to get a Franciscan to write one on Dominic!) it might do me no harm to get another view on our Holy Father Francis. I would add though that if one wishes to know any saint well read his/her writings. Modern Franciscanism tends to bring Francis and Clare together as co-founders of the Franciscan movement. It was Clare who protected the original spirit of the Franciscan movement after the death of Francis. To that end I would suggest the following:

    The Omnibus of Sources: http://www.amazon.com/St-Francis-Assisi-Writings-Biographies/dp/0819904406/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363438347&sr=8-3&keywords=omnibus+of+sources

    Francis of Assisi: Saint the early Documents http://www.amazon.com/Francis-Assisi-Saint-Early-Documents/dp/1565481100/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363438474&sr=1-2&keywords=regis+armstrong

    Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (The Classics of Western Spirituality series) : http://www.amazon.com/Francis-Clare-Complete-Classics-Spirituality/dp/0809124467/ref=pd_sim_b_5

    The last is the cheapest and easiest to access but contains only their writings. Reading the writings of Francis and Clare will show you how Catholic they were and how committed to a radically Christian way of life.

Comments are closed.