Author MARIS STICCO
Publisher HAWTHORN BOOKS
The life of St Francis has been the subject of numerous biographies. He must have been an amazing man. Some regard him to be the most Christ-like of any. Perhaps this is true. Certainly his manner of life and the record of his pathway and establishment of his order and that of the woman’s equivalent, the Poor Clare’s challenges deeply. Maria Sticco wrote this particular biography in the 1950’s and Salvator Attanasio translated it into English from the original Italian. It is a delight to read; the beautiful flow of language and the way the author endeavors to reveal the spirit of St Francis is exquisite. She shows us the life of this saint of God leads us to love him. She draws us into his life, the pathway he took, in his case, so dramatically (because, without doubt, he was such a large personality), is the pathway we must all take if we are to walk in wholehearted agreement with what it means to be a Christian. I found the book to be thoroughly spiritual but with that spirituality set in the terms of religious and almost poetic language. As we know, so many stories have grown up around the life of St Francis it is hard to trace the difference between fact and fiction. But this should not deflect us from reading about him or from considering his own writings. That the order he founded departed quite swiftly from some of the elements he laid down at its inception is well known. He felt himself married to the life of poverty and felt his order should own no property. Work, poverty, obedience and humility, these were among the emphases and hallmarks of his order. He was a visionary and not an organizer; he inspired and drew many to follow him in his quest to live wholly to the glory of God. It could be described as a revival of religion. He found himself rejected by some who followed him and an organizational element was established but his saintliness shone through everything and this author helps us to see that. She does not appear to idolize him; rather, she seems to understand him as though there was that in her own life that corresponded with his. St Francis appears freshly and in a vivid way in these pages; his humanity, his heart for God and his fellow man, his struggles and blessedness comes to life. I am afraid the book is out of print, and probably, only those interested in reading the life of the man who inspired the Franciscan conception of life will make the effort to obtain a copy, but if they do, they will be rewarded with a fine read.