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Saint Francis

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Description

Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.

Francis of Assisi has inspired the church for centuries. Francis took the gospel literally, following all that Jesus said and did without limit, and his devotion led to a life filled with miracles and wonders.

Born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy, Francis didn’t seem destined for the life of prayer and poverty that he chose. Bankrolled by his father, and with natural good looks and personality, Francis indulged in worldly pleasure. He had a ready wit, sang merrily, and delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking ways and led him to a life of prayer and unbridled devotion to Scripture. He gave over all his possessions to the poor and embraced a life of simplicity and poverty, transforming him from a self-centered youth to a man living for God and a model of complete obedience.


 

 

Reading Guides

1. There are some people who insist that a person cannot change. Do you believe this is true? 

2.       Pietro di Bernadone, the father of Francis, had worked hard to accumulate wealth.  Would you then say that he was a successful man? How is a person in our age evaluated? How is "personal worth" related to the value of a human being?

3.       How would you like living, working, shopping and going to church in Francis's day? Is there anything of the way people lived in those days that you would prefer over the way we live today? Is there anything that you would find disagreeable about the way they lived?

4.       In Francis's day, virtually everyone was a Christian and went to church at least once a day. If you weren't a Christian, you were a heretic. What do you think is right or wrong about that kind of mandatory Christianity? Did Jesus want everyone forced to be a Christian? Can you cite passages in the Bible to support your answer to that question?

5.       According to his biographers, Francis was a profligate young man. Girls who grew up in medieval Assisi had a very different experience from that of boys. There were also significant differences depending upon whether the boy or girl was wealthy or poor. Do you see any comparison with  the lot of boys and girls growing up in America today?

6.       Young Francis was determined to be a knight and spent a great deal of time and his father's wealth to become one. What was there about being a knight that might have influenced Francis to become such a determined man of God?

7.       Consider what effect Francis's experiences in battle and in the dungeon might have had upon transforming Francis from a profligate youth and aspiring knight into the man whom his friend Leo would later call the "Knight of Christ."

8.       Francis interpreted his vision of a grand palace occupied by a beautiful lady—a palace that a "voice" described as belonging to "Francis and his knights"—as a prophecy that he would become a great prince. Yet on the road to Apulia where he intended to join knights on a great quest, another voice told him that he had misinterpreted that vision. How did his interpretation of the vision change?

9.       Francis spoke to his profligate friends of a "beautiful bride," perhaps the same as the beautiful woman who appeared in his vision of the palace.  Who or what did this lady prove to be?

10.   Francis regarded his encounter with a leper on a road near Assisi to be the most significant moment in his conversion. Why would he believe that? 

11.   Another significant moment in Francis's conversion happened in a small "wayside" church named San Damiano. Much of his earliest work following his conversion was done in response to this vision. What was the vision and what did he do as a result?

12.   What was the "pearl of great price"—the "treasure"—that he told his friend about when he sneaked out of the city to pray in a cave on Mt. Subasio.

13.   How was Francis's final break from his father (and perhaps from his former life) accomplished?

14.   Francis viewed poverty very differently than most people, even from people who feel great compassion for the poor. What was "poverty" to Francis?

15.   Francis believed that our headlong pursuit of "things" deprives us of what?

16.   While attending mass at a little church named Santa Maria degli Angeli, which later became the home for his order, he heard the reading of a Bible passage from Matthew 10. He responded to the passage by saying "That is what I want to do!" What did he want to do?

17.   How were the brothers received on their early mission efforts to nearby towns?

18.   How did the Pope react to Francis's request to make his group an official order of the church?  Was the Order with its rule formally granted?

19.   "Asceticism," the term given to a group of people who live by a set of behavioral rules, comes from the Greek askesis, which referred primarily to what?

20.   What was his group called? Francis became popularly referred to as what? What do these titles suggest was the core belief of the new order? What was the first task required of any man who wished to be admitted to their order?

21.   Francis regarded "humility" as one of the core values for their life.  Why? Francis became a very famous man yet he went to extreme measures to maintain a humble nature. Can you think of instances which illustrate his dedication to humility?

22.   Are there aspects of his rules that you find objectionable? Which ones? Why do you object to them?

23.   Do you believe that Clare was Francis's mysterious "friend"?

24.   Francis spent much of his time going from town to town doing what?

25.   What was the significance of the Fourth Lateran Council to Francis and the order he established?

26.   What were the hermitages that Francis established in various locales? What were they for?

27.   What was the "third order" of the Friars Minor?

28.   Francis is recorded as having preached to birds and animals. To some people, this indicates that Francis was, shall we say, a little "off." Do you believe that he was mentally unbalanced?

29.   What challenge did Francis offer to the sultan in his attempt to end the crusades?

30.   Francis returned home from the Holy Land amid rumors that he had died. The order was in complete disarray with divisions on issues regarding what? How did Francis respond?

31.   What Christmas tradition did Francis start in the little town of Greccio?

32.   One of the most significant and most controversial events in Francis's life occurred at the hermitage in La Verna. What happened there?

33.   Francis's health had been precarious since his year-long imprisonment in the Dungeon at Perugia. Why did Francis always resist arguments that he seek medical treatment?

34.   Francis was finally convinced to seek medical help, but before embarking upon the journey, he chose to spend some time resting near Clare and her community of "poor ladies" at the reconstructed San Damiano. It was during this time that he wrote a song which was to become the most famous of his writings. What was it called? In it he wrote about "Brother Sun" and "Sister Moon" among other subjects. What was the focus of the final verse which Francis wrote while he was lying in the bishop's palace shortly before his death?

35.   After medical treatments in northern Italy failed to heal his afflicted eyes, Francis decided to return to Assisi. But his health was failing fast and his helpers took him home via a roundabout route notably passing by Perugia. Why did they do this?

36.   Francis's closest female friend, after Clare, was who? She made an appearance at the scene where Francis was dying. What was remarkable about it? What did she see at his death that she said should no longer be hidden from the world? How did the world react?

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Saint Francis, Robert West
  • Saint Francis, Robert West

Details

Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.

Francis of Assisi has inspired the church for centuries. Francis took the gospel literally, following all that Jesus said and did without limit, and his devotion led to a life filled with miracles and wonders.

Born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy, Francis didn’t seem destined for the life of prayer and poverty that he chose. Bankrolled by his father, and with natural good looks and personality, Francis indulged in worldly pleasure. He had a ready wit, sang merrily, and delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking ways and led him to a life of prayer and unbridled devotion to Scripture. He gave over all his possessions to the poor and embraced a life of simplicity and poverty, transforming him from a self-centered youth to a man living for God and a model of complete obedience.


 

 

More Information

Length 240 Pages
Series Christian Encounters Series
Publication Date August 17, 2010
Company
  • Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10 1595551077
ISBN-13 9781595551078
Height 7"
Width 5"