The Urban Asceticism of St. Francis of Assisi: Living a Life of Spiritual Self-Denial Within the Walls of a Medieval City

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The central thesis of this monograph is that Francis of Assisi and his hagiographers Thomas of Celano and Bonaventure, construct an image of sanctity that draws from urban ascetic traditions and practices that go back to the earliest centuries of desert monasticism.


"My purpose in undertaking his project is to bring scholarly balance to the field of Francis Studies. I believe that scholars like Lester Little have overemphasized the uniqueness of Francis's experiment in holy living. By considering Francis's religiosity within the context of thirteenth-century commercial revolution, Little has overstated the mendicant-monastic divide without appreciating how much Francis and his early biographers took their religious cues from the original monastic traditions of the desert. It is my intention to illustrate Francis's debt to the tradition of monastic asceticism, highlighting his proper place, not a religious novelty, but an ascetic, firmly ensconced in ancient monastic thought and practice."
From the Introduction

Table of Contents


1. St. Francis and the Profit Economy in the Thirteenth Century

2. To the Desert and Back Again: Anthony's Desert Flight, the Pachomian Koinona, Alexis' Urban Antonianism, and Basil's Urban Monasticism

3. The "Desert" and the Latin West: Sulpicius Severus' Life of St. Martin and St. Gregory the Great's Dialogues

4. Saints and the City: Romuald of Ravenna and Nobert of Xanten

5. The Case of St. Francis' Writings

6. Thomas of Celano's Urban Ascetic and Bonaventure's Urban Mystic

7. Conclusion


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