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The Little Flowers of St. Francis
de St. Francis of Assisi
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I bought this because, standing there in the second-hand bookshop, I couldn’t work out what the nature of the text was. My curiosity would have been satisfied if I’d spotted the endnote. It turns out it’s a Medieval amalgamation of various texts, stitched together by a later editor. There’s a fair bit about it on Wikipedia if you’re interested, all of which makes it sound like a bit of a mess. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Whoever edited it together was some sort of genius.
The text as we have it is a collection of short chapters, mostly two or three pages long. Each tells a story either about St. Francis or various early Franciscan monks. Each story exemplifies a thoughtworthy point. The stories are fantastical, full of miracles. There’s little here that you could use for a biography of Francis, but it is a window into what Franciscans at the time believed about him. The section on the stigmata is particularly interesting in this regard. Here St Francis is portrayed as a second Christ, a living God, and after death, a psychopomp with powers of judgement over the dead. How did they avoid being killed as heretics? I don’t know enough about the period to answer that.
It made me consider the reliability of any written historical information from any dead culture. We have a clear dividing line between what we consider possible or impossible, but we cannot simply exclude the miracles and accept the remainder as history because the writers too had a clear dividing line. Their possible clearly differs from ours and includes the miraculous, but that doesn’t mean the remainder is true just because it happens to coincide with our possible. Imagine a testimony from the past that happens not to cross the line into our concept of the impossible. We might take it as a reliable historical account, yet to someone from that culture it might contain the most egregious series of improbabilities. But after all, what is history but a story we tell ourselves about the past?
Anyhow, I read the first 50 or 60 pages straight through like normal book and then, quite organically, my approach changed and I took to reading a chapter here, a chapter there as I had a quiet moment. Because no matter how strange the writers’ view of the universe and their mode of expressing themselves, the points they raise are worthy of contemplation. I think it would be a stretch to describe a hoary old sinner like me as reading anything in a devotional manner, but I can completely see why people are still using this book in this way nearly 700 years later.
A very delightful little book, food for my soul. While this is definitely not for everyone, I found the air of innocent faith that breathed through these tales of St. Francis and his companions to be absolutely inspiring. The only reason I don't give it five stars is because the translator of this particular edition (Jon M. Sweeney) chose to use some jarring anachronisms, like the word "okay." Otherwise, the translation was very readable: simple, even child-like, a style which well fitted the atmosphere of the tales.
I FÍORETTI DI SAN FRANCESCO
Traduzione di un anonimo in bel volgare toscano
della fine del XIV secolo, degli "Actus beati Fran-
cisci et sociorum eius", i “Fioretti" sono il piu
amabile e caro libro del nostro Medioevo
francescano. "Fioretti" vuol dire antologia dei fatti e
dei miracoli della vita di san Francesco e dei suoí
compagni, piccoli fiori di una vasta letteratura
fiorita nel primo secolo di vita francescana. Sono
pagine edificanti, lettura spirituale, messaggio
religioso; anche se il libretto, dal punto di vista
formale, raggiunge quasi costantemente le altezze
dell'opera d'arte, per il suo valore squisitamente
poetico. Per questo i "Fioretti" sono sempre stati
popolarissimi come lettura edificante e - dall'800
in poi sono apprezzati, commentati ed esaltati
come grande opera letteraria dai critici e dai puristi,
anzi come vero "poema in prosa", che con le
sue fresche pagine ispirate alla fede, in secoli di
violenze e miserie senza nome, influi efficacemente
a rinnovare lo spirito evangelico rivissuto da
Francesco per dar cosi l'esempio e l'incentivo per
la formazione di una società nuova.
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Gorgeous small woodcuts for each chapter.
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The Greatest Thing in the World / Acres of Diamonds / As a Man Thinketh / The Practice of the Presence of God / The Imitation of Christ de Guideposts (indirecte)
The Brother Lawrence Collection: Practice and Presence of God, Spiritual Maxims, The Life of Brother Lawrence de Brother Lawrence (indirecte)
A Treasury of Christian Books: The Practice of the Presence of God and Selections From The Little Flowers of St. Francis de Brother Laurence (indirecte)
Hendrickson Christian Classics Audio Library de Stephen Johnston (indirecte)
Referències a aquesta obra en fonts externes.
Wikipedia en anglès (1)
This collection of folk tales, legends, and narratives about the life of Francis of Assisi and his followers appeared about seventy-five years after the saint's death, in the early fourteenth century. The writings have remained popular ever since due to their beauty and charm, and because they are the nearest thing to a biography of Francis that exists. They are the source of many of the most famous stories about Francis--including the accounts of his preaching to the birds and of his receiving of the stigmata--and they are based on stories that circulated about him in the years after his death. Robert Hopcke and Paul Schwartz provide the first truly new translation of the Fioretti in forty years, and in doing so they bring the spiritual classic up to date, using contemporary language to show Francis to be a living, breathing human being who walked the streets of Assisi in a state of spiritual, physical, and social enlightenment, through his own existence making Christ real in the world. The translators have also edited the work to present the stories that most powerfully present Francis's spirit and teaching.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)271.302Religions History, geographic treatment, biography of Christianity Religious Congregations and Orders in Church history Franciscans
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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