This loan from Mary Susan was a trip through Umbria and Tuscany. The author recounts the story of Francis of Assisi by retracing his considerable travels, not just in the hill towns of Italy, but his trip to Egypt during the fifth crusade. So you hear the story of his conversion, creation of a new Rule, administering and losing control of a new order, his vigils and fasts, and countless miracles, all connected to geographic locations. And you hear about the struggle of finding the sometimes hidden shrines and hermitages, and what they look like now. I was especially surprised by the excitement expressed by the author at being where Francis had been, touching what he had touched. I found it hard to imagine the devotion felt by those who encountered Francis. While he talked about joy, his joy seemed too often to come in the form of self denial. Ashes in your food! Phooey. What would Ruth Reichl say!
Later....I thought I was finished, but no. Women were called "honeyed poison" by Francis. He said in an early Rule that according to the Lord, "Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart." It makes no sense for someone able to see all of the creatures in the world in a new light, i.e. calling the wild wolf, "Brother Wolf", to view other humans and their natural desires as worthless, or worse, unless they devote all their passion to his view of worshiping God.