Posted: March 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Every once in a while, there comes someone whose wisdom seems to surpass every man-made notion of God. Someone who goes so far in obeying His voice, that he’s deemed mad, possessed or a heretic. Someone like Saint Francis of Assisi, the subject of a wonderful work of truth-speaking fiction by Fr. Edward Hays, of which I’ve had the blessing of receiving a signed copy. 
Giovanni Francesco Bernadone was a man of many desires. Born the son of a wealthy cloth merchant and a French woman in the city of Assisi, he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. His mother saw in him a priest, someone fitting to do God’s work. He wanted to become a knight or a troubadour. Taken as a captive in war, he began to ponder upon freedom, and realized that all his goods meant nothing without it. Then, the voice of Christ spoke to him in the church of San Damiano, giving him the task of rebuilding His house.
Through the masterful words of Fr. Edward Hays, readers come to know and love this iconic figure, so sincere in his humanity, so desperate in seeking approval, so hungry for love. Love becomes his creed, as he sheds his luxurious clothes and marries Lady Poverty. His spiritual adventure through the dogma-saturated society of the Medieval world is fueled by the inner desire of selfless love that animates his being. In a world where the Earth is flat, the letter of the Law, not its heart, holds absolute authority, Francesco of Assisi is a torch burning with the flames of love, which do not extinguish as he bears witness to how the Church ostracizes and persecutes those who do not share its ways of thinking. Among those who deem Muslims as infidels, he becomes a “Christian Muslim”. He kisses a leper, perceived as “unclean” by everyone else. He wrestles with the contrast between dogma and love throughout the novel, which is a 638-page tribute to not only the patron saint of animals and ecology, but an ardent lover of every creation that God bestowed upon this world. Inspiration soaks every page, and readers will discover a man on the path to holiness, a soul that has seen the worst of the world and believed in the best. The size of the novel should not be a turnoff for readers who hunger for a fictional, yet divinely truthful in heart account of an icon of joy. The impressive cast of characters, from Francis himself, to Padre Antonio, his hermit mentor of seemingly endless wisdom, Clare of Assisi, a woman who passionately loved his soul and followed in his footsteps,  Jacques Coeur, the bandit he converts into a true lover of Christ, the brothers in his humble group of barefooted messengers of God’s will, the hunchback Strapazzate, Ali the Muslim, Samuel the Jew and the rest of the colorful multitiude of individuals that readers will encounter in this epic tale, make it come alive, as if it unfolded before their very eyes. Although it is subtitled “a Medieval novel about Francis of Assisi”, this book contains wisdom that is timeless, and should be read by anyone who loves God with all their hearts. Fr. Edward Hays, may God bless and inspire you for the remainder of your life, for you have written a book that is Catholic in the primary meaning of the word, which is “universal”. It has retaught me to LOVE, and for that, not even the whole multitude of stars in the night’s sky can rate it in such a way as to do it justice! I am eternally grateful for the richness you shared with me!

God-hungry historical fiction enthusiast,

Alex Szollo













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