The Life of St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis de Sales said, that while many saints should be imitated, some of the saints are to be admired more than imitated. The life of St. Francis gives us some of both. On the one hand, his extraordinary love of God, his humility, his penance, his charity, his prudence and his detachment from and loathing for the world, are all virtues that every Christian should seek to emulate throughout his life. On the other hand, his discernment of spirits, his miracles, his extraordinary fasting and mortification of his body, his ecstasies and the stigmata are all things God performed in St. Francis for our wonderment, to give glory to Him for what He brought about in his servant. We have provided a spiritual classic, Fr. Candide Challipe’s Life of St. Francis, translated by the Oratorians of London into English. The value of Challipe’s narrative, having compiled all of the sources available at the time of his writing (1700’s) is that he balances the narrative between the two different elements which made Francis one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church. Challipe’s work is not only a spiritual tour de force, but is also a great work of theology, as he unfolds the life of St. Francis with respect to the subsequent theology of the Church through St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas, The Council of Trent and St. Robert Bellarmine. He quotes frequently not only from the Franciscan sources, but also from the Holy Scripture, the Fathers, and the great Theologians of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The important feature of the Mediatrix press edition, freshly scanned and OCRed from the 1877 American Edition, is that we have retained all of the footnotes, and faithfully reproduced the Oratorian translation without any abridgement, only removing notes of mere technicalities and updating certain jarring old English spellings. We have also added several of the frescoes of Giotto, which are found in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, to elucidate and illustrate the work. Giotto is often credited with beginning the Renaissance, and in some ways he did, though he can scarcely be identified with the humanist goals of Petrarch, or the classicism of Michaelangelo or Raphael. Giotto is firmly within the Byzantine tradition of Iconography, but as he progressed in his career added elements of perspective and three dimensional painting, while presenting an essentially iconographic depiction of the life of St. Francis. The Frescoes reproduced here, are filled with theological depth which bring out in pictures (in an age prior to the printing press when literacy was not accessible to the masses due to technological limitations) the spiritual depth of the events in St. Francis’ momentous life. In fine, Francis is a simulacrum of Christ Himself, and many of the events of his life were brought about by providence, in order to to conform the life of the Saint to his own. His, is an epoch, placed in a time of great emperors, sultans, and Popes such as Innocent III, one of the most able Popes in history.
A Capuchin Chronicle
The Capuchin Chronicle is a translation of a 16th century account of the first Capuchin Franciscans: their trials, tribulations and holiness as they went on to become a great religious order in the Church.
The Chronicle, though anonymous, is attributed to Fra Ruffino da Siena, and begins with a review of previous reforms, laying the ground for the turbulent period of the 1530s and the struggle with the regular Franciscans to establish their first houses. Students of the discalced Carmelite reform will see here similar attitudes and obstacles to overcome to establish reform.
This chronicle while near contemporary and a great source for information on the order, is also a spiritual treatise of first rank, on the virtues which the men of that age felt were necessary to not only wear the habit of St. Francis, but truly embrace the spirit of their founder. This should rank as a quintessential Franciscan work.
The Autobiography of St. Charles of Sezze
St. Charles of Sezze was a Franciscan mystic and stigmatist of the 17th century. Although he was quite unlettered, still, through the ever increasing influence of the Holy Spirit he wrote books that number in size, and content make him one of the greatest mystical writers of the Church, ranking with St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. In his own times this mystical doctrine, illustrated in this Autobiography, served as a powerful counterweight to fatal Quietism and Jansenism. The canonization of St. Charles after his having remained unknown for several centuries should serve to indicate that his life and writings carry a message for modem man. His complete obedience rebukes the present-day lust for self-determination; his humility, its pride and boastfulness; his poverty, its precipitate rush after material pleasures. What he suffered at the hands of the demons also carries a lesson for modem times. It is that the devil is very much in existence, and deliberately to close our mind against the thought of him will only serve to give him greater power. St. Charles teaches us the way to oppose the devil and all the fallen angels in their incessant warfare against our souls. Very few will ever be asked to suffer bodily harm from the devil, but all must suffer, and overcome, his temptations to pride, lust and ambition.
The Franciscan Way of the Cross: Latin-English
The Franciscan Way of the Cross was written in the 16th century by an anonymous Franciscan priest while to assist him preaching while giving missions. They quickly became popular and were included in devotionals going into the 19th century. We have provided an all knew up to date translation faithful to the original Latin, to replace 19th century translations that eschewed the medieval Latin and replaced certain sections with the better known Liguori stations. The Mediatrix Press edition is absolutely faithful to the original Latin, and a great, simple devotional to focus one on the mysteries of Christ’s passion and death.