When Saint Francis Saved the Church

How a Converted Medieval Troubadour Created a Spiritual Vision for the Ages
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Format: Hardcover

Publication date: September 8, 2014

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Winner of a 2015 Catholic Press Award: History (Second Place). 

Jon M. Sweeney, author of numerous popular books on St. Francis as well as the recent bestseller The Pope Who Quit, offers a surprising new look at the world’s most popular saint, showing how this beloved, but often-mythologized character created a spiritual vision for the ages and may very well have rescued the Christian faith.  

In When Saint Francis Saved the Church, popular historian Jon Sweeney presents an intriguing portrait of Francis beyond the readily familiar stories and images. In the tradition of Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization, Sweeney reveals how the saint became a hinge in the history of the Christian faith and shows how in just fourteen years—from 1205 to 1219—the unconventional and stumbling wisdom of a converted troubadour changed the Church. Sweeney outlines Francis’s revolutionary approach to friendship, “the other” (people at the margins), poverty, spirituality, care (for people, creatures, and the natural world), and death.  

This vibrant book presents the unsullied life and message of Francis in its essential details, offering a sweeping, informative, remarkable look at how Francis and his movement quite literally saved the Christian faith—and continues to offer a spiritual vision with contemporary relevance.

Product Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 9781594714863

Imprint: Ave Maria Press

  • “I cannot think of a better presentation of Francis, his life, and most particularly his vision than this splendid book by Jon Sweeney.”

    “Splendid book.”

  • “Jon Sweeney is good at many things, but he is a master at retrieving the treasure of the Christian past and restoring it to currency for the Christian present. In this book, he transcends even those categories. Francis of Assisi, a saint for every age, springs to life under Sweeney’s attentive care.”

    “Francis of Assisi, a saint for every age, springs to life under Sweeney’s attentive care.”

  • “After trying to follow Christ as a Franciscan for almost fifty years, I can honestly say this is an exciting, intelligent, and faithful understanding of Francis of Assisi—for our time and for all time!  Read, and find hope!”

    “Exciting, intelligent, and faithful!”

  • “Once again with his reader-friendly style, practical advice, and sense that history is really present in its impact on our daily lives, Jon Sweeney brings St. Francis into the twenty-first century as a friend and model we can delight in and trust. In six simple ways Sweeney’s Francis shows us how to transform our lives and give them joy and meaning. This Francis is a Francis that readers may feel they are meeting anew and finding even more relevant in their lives.”

    “Sweeney brings St. Francis into the twenty-first century.”

  • “This well informed meditation on the life of St. Francis is a delight to read. Jon Sweeney’s careful and timely retelling of Francis’s story deepens our understanding of why a twenty-first century pope took the saint’s name and gives us hope for the future of the church.”

    “Careful and timely retelling of Francis's story.”

  • “We are living at a time when another Francis promises to spur renewal of the Church. Although history does not repeat itself, reflecting with Jon Sweeney on the work and wisdom of St. Francis of Assisi orients us on how to pray for Pope Francis’s  efforts and to respond to his initiatives.”

    “Orients us on how to pray for Pope Francis’s  efforts.”

  • “Jon Sweeney applies popular history to a man who changed history, St. Francis of Assisi. Deeply familiar with the Franciscan sources, writing in a very accessible style, Sweeney points to Pope Francis’s inspiration. I like this book!”

    “Very accesible style.”

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