Book Review: Saint Francis by Robert West

Saint Francis is part of Thomas Nelson’s Christian Encounters biography series which is designed to highlight important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. As such, this entry in the series, accomplishes that purpose. The reader will gain an overview of the life and work of this Catholic Saint often alluded to even by evangelical Protestants. West writes in an easy-to-read engaging style with a hint of humor and comparisons to modern-day culture that helps the reader grasp the 13th century world of Francis of the small town of Assisi. As readers, we follow Francis in that world from his childhood, his early years as a profligate, to his life changing loss, to his spiritual turning, through his steadfast commitment to a “rule of poverty”, gathering people to his orders, to his death. At each step it is obvious that Francis was a significant person in the life of the Catholic Church. His teachings are mentioned along the way, as are the practices he held dear; hints as to how he became the patron saint of ecologists and animal lovers are also to be found.

While the book is a good overview, it does not attempt to do much with the veracity of the doctrine held by Francis other than note that “his message was not theologically profound” (p. 217). The facts presented make it clear that Francis was thoroughly Catholic, committed to the Pope, albeit a Catholic with a unique approach to penance – the “rule of poverty” – which for the times, was powerful in exposing the corruption of many church leaders.

I would recommend this book for its stated purpose of highlighting and introducing Francis of Assisi to a modern audience.

Saint Francis (Christian Encounters Series)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


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