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The Natural World of Saint Francis of Assisi

  For eight centuries, folk wisdom has passed down the simple story of Saint Francis preaching to the birds. Many who know nothing else about him revere this passionate saint for his love of nature.



The little hilltop town where Saint Francis grew up had walls for a reason. There were wolves in the woods — four-legged ones and two-legged ones.

Yet it was in the most wild of places that Francis felt most free, where he was restored and strengthened and refilled with enthusiasm. On the forested mountain above the walls of Assisi, he found the earthly paradise which many in his day assumed humanity had lost forever. Having found it there, he sought it wherever he went.

Francis was lost and drifting when he first withdrew to the wilderness. Still in his early twenties, he had already seen enough of life to make him question its meaning.
He had fought in battle, been imprisoned in a dungeon, and come face-to-face with the suffering of the poor. Neither his comfortable life as the son of a prosperous merchant nor his circle of carefree friends could provide him with purpose or sustain his natural joy.

Biographers recount his story over and over. Theologians explore his spirituality while historians patiently reconstruct the social, political, and economic context of his time.

On the other hand, for more than eight centuries folk wisdom has passed down the simple story of Saint Francis preaching to the birds. Many who know nothing else about him revere this passionate saint for his love of nature.

This book explores the natural world of central Italy that Saint Francis knew and loved.

Comments from Reviewers and Fans

The beauty of Umbria that inspired Francis is still there today, as you will see in the evocative words of Susan Lamb and the remarkable photographs of Tom Bean. The rocks and landscapes, the winds and climate, the rivers, lakes and marshes, the plants and animals of Umbria and the neighboring parts of Italy are all brought to life in this book. It could serve as a substitute for going there, or better, it could be the inspiration for a trip, and a memory afterward.
— Dr. Walter Alvarez, Geologist and Author of
T.Rex and the Crater of Doom and The Mountains of Saint Francis.

This book provides a valuable service, for it helps us to perceive the Earth not as a jumble of objects, but rather a communion of subjects (as Thomas Berry suggests), participating in the life of creation as holy gift of God. May Sister, Mother Earth, depicted in these pages, inspire you as it did Francis.
— Keith Douglass Warner OFM

We just spent the last hour paging through The Natural World of St. Francis. I wish you could have heard our comments. Your work, both the narrative and photographs, is just beyond description. We visualized you sitting at your desks poring over the Sources to get the absolutely perfect quotations for the sidebars. For the contemplative souls who love Francis and have been in Umbria it is a meditation that will help us walk the terrain all over again with Francis and his companions. I can’t even begin to say what this book means to us. It is a gift to know you and know how much love and care you put into this book. As we enjoyed your photo on the back cover, we commented that you look like you have an inner sense of knowing that this is a masterpiece. I think Francis and his “guys” are rejoicing—just enjoying it all over again themselves.
— Sister Teresine Glaser, OSF.