Book Symposium on "Francis of Assisi: A New Biography

Jan 23, 2013
Swift Hall, 3rd Floor Lecture
1025 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Augustine Thompson, O.P.Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

Karen ScottDePaul University

Lawrence S. CunninghamUniversity of Notre Dame


Cosponsored by the Department of History and the Medieval Studies Workshop
Augustine Thompson, O.P., Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley
Karen Scott, DePaul University
Lawrence Cunningham, University of Notre Dame

In this authoritative and engaging new biography, Augustine Thompson, O.P., sifts through the surviving evidence for the life of Francis using modern historical methods. The result is a complex yet sympathetic portrait of the man and the saint. Francis emerges from this account as very much a typical thirteenth-century Italian layman, but one who, when faced with unexpected crises in his personal life, made decisions so radical that they challenge his own society and ours. Unlike the saint of legend, this Francis never had a unique divine inspiration to provide him with rules for following the teachings of Jesus. Rather, he spent his life reacting to unexpected challenges, before which he often found himself unprepared and uncertain. The Francis who emerges here is both more complex and more conflicted than that of older biographies.


Augustine Thompson, O.P., is Professor of History at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. He has taught in the religious studies department of the University of Oregon and the department of Religious Studies and History at the University of Virginia. His most recent books are Francis of Assisi: A New Biography and Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125-1325.

Karen Scott is an associate professor of Catholic Studies and History at DePaul University. She teaches courses in church history, medieval intellectual history, medieval mysticism, Renaissance Italy, Reformation Europe, and has written extensively on Catherine of Siena.

Lawrence S. Cunningham is the John A. O’Brien Emeritus Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. A leading American scholar in the areas of systematic theology and culture, Catholic spirituality, and Catholic saints, Cunningham has edited or written over twenty-five books including Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, An Introduction to Catholicism, and The Seven Deadly Sins: A Visitor’s Guide.