The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano - 178 


Thomas of Celano’s The Life of Saint Francis is a master’s tapestry interweaving multiple colored threads of hagiography, historical data, invitation toward gospel and ecclesial renewal, and identification of the mission and formation of the brothers after Francis. The frame of this tapestry, holding all together, is a profound theology of the Word and of the Cross, fused into a Christology of Incarnation and Passion. Ultimately, the story of Francis is an invitation to experience a love that radically transforms the human person into the image of Christ Crucified, in intimate union with an all-loving and merciful God. The differing threads within this tapestry provide multiple ways to understand, remember and celebrate Saint Francis.

There are many ways of approaching Thomas’s portrait. While Augustinian in nature, Thomas’s anthropology draws the reader into a rich symbolic theology in which image, experience, and mysticism blend. His theology of conversion and grace reveal themselves at every turn.32 Thomas describes Francis as God’s instrument of ecclesial renewal and reform and, in doing so, develops a strong theology of the Church upon which later authors will build.33 The Life of Saint Francis is a text that demands the active cooperation of a reader. Not simply an encomium for the newly proclaimed saint, Thomas’s work is a stimulus for the ever-struggling sinner—a testament of hope focused, as Francis would have it, on the Christ he knew so intimately.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 178