He conversed with both the Pope and the sultan. He transformed a taste for fine things and troubadour poetry into greater loves for poverty and joyful devotion to God. He never intended to found a traditional religious "movement," but nevertheless, he did. As he died, his brothers had to guard him closely in fear that someone would try to snatch the body of this living saint. Who was Francis of Assisi? Where did he come from and what can we learn from his life? Paul Sabatier (1858-1928), a French Protestant and the first modern biographer of St. Francis, sought to find the man beneath the layers of myth and legend. Sabatier portrayed a fully human Francis, much like each of us in our awkwardness, insecurities, and fear, but also a gentle mystic and passionate reformer who desired to live as Jesus taught his disciples. The Road to Assisi presents Sabatier´s biography for today´s twenty-first century reader. With helpful explanations and annotations by Jon M. Sweeney, Sabatier´s narrative is supplemented with the insights of many other scholars and writers, from Bonaventure and Dante to G. K. Chesterton and Umberto Eco. Visit Jon Sweeney's blog at www.jonmsweeney.wordpress.com.
Jon M. Sweeney is the author of several books including Strange Heaven: The Virgin Mary as Woman, Mother, Disciple, and Advocate (September 2006); and Born Again and Again: Surprising Benefits of a Fundamentalist Childhoodwhich was named one of the "Best Books of 2005" by Spirituality & Health magazine and with an Award of Merit in the Spirituality category by Christianity Today. He has also written The St. Francis Prayer Book; The Lure of Saints; Praying with Our Handswhich was featured on PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" and is the editor of Paul Sabatier's classic biography of St. Francis, The Road to Assisi, which was a selection of the History Book Club, Crossings Book Club, Literary Guild, and Book-of-the-Month Club. Jon was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SkyLight Paths Publishing, a multifaith trade book publisher in Vermont, until he joined Paraclete Press in Massachusetts as their associate publisher. He writes an occasional column for the website, www.explorefaith.org, and his articles have been published in a variety of magazines including Catholic Digest, The Lutheran, The Merton Seasonal, and Spirituality & Health. He is a frequent guest speaker to groups of all denominational backgrounds on the subjects of understanding the Virgin Mary, Christian fundamentalism, St. Francis of Assisi, and appreciating the Catholic imagination. He was the featured speaker at The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on St. Francis's feast day in 2004. Jon lives in Vermont with his wife and two teenage children. Visit Jon Sweeney's blog at www.jonmsweeney.wordpress.com.