"The Little Flowers Of St Francis" Translated by E. M. Blaiklock and A. C. Keys: A Review
This is a new translation of "The Little Flowers of St Francis," being a collection of tales about Francis of Assisi which came into completed form in the late 14th century.
This may seem a large gap when we consider that Francis lived from 1182 to 1226, but the tales had circulated for some time before they reached this final completed form. "The Little Flowers" draws from both an earlier oral tradition and documents, and some of this material dates from the time just after the death of Francis. So while we may expect stylistic embellishment, the stories can be considered to be fairly reliable.
This is an excellent translation, which brings Francis and his companions to life, It includes many well-known stories, such as Francis preaching to the birds, taming the wild wolf of Gubbio, and receiving the awesome gift of the stigmata on Mount La Verna.
There are also tales that tell of Francis preaching and praying and how, once, he "found himself in a position of agonising doubt as to whether he should keep himself free for uninterrupted prayer, or should give his energies at times to preaching," Other tales reveal his great humility, and his care for the poor, especially those afflicted in body and spirit. Of the many treasures to be found in this book, I single out one which shows how Francis still challenges us today:
"The blessed Francis would often say to the friars, 'These three things I commend to you, namely: restraint in the face of an unbridled appetite for knowledge; prayer, which the Devil with many futile efforts is ever intent on nullifying; and the love of poverty, and holy poverty".,
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