This short book attempts to depict the human and religious experience of the friar Francis and to place him within the context of civil and ecclesiastic society and events at the beginning of the 13th century. This account is based on Francis's "writings" and the documents and other sources that have reliably conveyed them, thus shunning commonplaces, unsubstantiated fantasies, literary reveries, and methodological carelessness. The author - a major scholar of Francis and Franciscanism - produces a simple yet detailed and well-documented portrait. The text also provides a critical tool for interpreting current political and ideological views that seek to exploit Saint Francis of Assisi.
Grado Giovanni Merlo teaches History of Christianity at the University of Milan and is the president of the International Society of Franciscan Studies.