The Franciscan tradition is more than eight hundred years old, with followers from many walks of life. Understanding the rich history of St. Francis and his early brothers and sisters in the context of a fascinating and complex religious movement can greatly enhance our understanding of this thirteenth-century saint, his impact on medieval society, his enduring influence on our contemporary world, and his universal appeal to all faiths. St. Francis of Assisi, as a patron and model in living the Gospel, is a hero for our times. His humble yet charismatic personality is as dramatic today as it was for his own day, even as it continues to change the world.
The Franciscan intellectual tradition and the compelling story of Francis of Assisi seem to have a never-ending fascination for scholars, novelists, dramatists, screenwriters, and storytellers of every age, language, and culture. It is my hope that this text can provide the vocabulary to effectively communicate Franciscan values and insights to followers of this saint. In the last ten years we have experienced rapid changes in our world, Church, society, politics, and cultural realities. But the human heart does not change in its fundamental longing for peace, kindness, justice, friendship, and heroes who inspire us to seek the good and to love and serve God in one another. St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi have universally touched hearts by always breathing new life into these dreams in every age.
—from the book Franciscan Field Guide: People, Places, Practices, and Prayers
by Sister Rosemary Stets, OSF