The Road to Assisi — The 120th Anniversary Edition
by Paul Sabatier (annotation by Jon Sweeny)
Paraclete Press. Brewster, Mass. 189 pages.
“Every generation discovers Francis anew. There seems to be no end to what we find. And then, of course, today we live in a world that has finally seen a pope take the name, Francis. Why did it take so long — and by a Jesuit, even, not a Franciscan?” So asks the author in the introduction
to this new edition of a 19th century biography that originated all modern scholarship on Francis of Assisi. Why, indeed? No one predicted the new pope would make the global statement that he is making by his words and his deeds. The name he chose certainly gave an immediate clue to his vision for the church and those who serve. The consequence of the pope’s ministry may be a renewal of interest in the “poor man” of Assisi, who also confronted the church with a stark and joyous commitment to follow Jesus in the most radical way possible. Paul Sabatier, the author of the biography that opened a whole new understanding of Francis, was a French Protestant pastor who dedicated his skills to bringing a “human” Francis to the public. Jon Sweeny, a contemporary Francis scholar, has performed a great service by adding annotated notes in the margins. This is the right time to learn about the life of St. Francis, who inspired the current pope, and this is the right book to begin that learning.”