The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi: Introductory Note

The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi by Father Candide Chalippe, O.F.M., needs no apology. The work was first published at Paris in 1727. It is not only well written and reliable withal, but also instructive, elevating and inspiring. The facts and legends mentioned are drawn from the oldest and most reliable sources. The abundance of incidents and anecdotes not to be found elsewhere make the volume eminently interesting, while the reflexions and applications which the author now and then interweaves with the narrative are so replete with practical hints on spiritual life, that they will undoubtedly produce the best spiritual results in the reader. The style though simple, at times graphic, is very pleasing; the narrative flows on with equal ease and freedom.

In 1852 a priest from the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri made a translation into English from what was then the latest French edition. This French edition came from the press in 1850. With the English translation the original work appeared in an abridged form. The original work is divided into six books, the English translation contains but half of these, so rearranged for the sake of clearness that they form five books. Most elucidations of the original work regarding characteristics of Saint Francis, events and dates that are doubtful, are omitted, likewise most of the writings of Saint Francis. The former were and still are undergoing changes, owing to new historical researches and discoveries made by students of Franciscan sources, while the latter were but lately again newly translated into English and edited as completely as possible with many critical notes and references of great value by the scholarly Father Paschal Robinson, O.F.M. – The Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi by Father Paschal Robinson, O.F.M. The Dolphin Press, 1906.

The marvellous progress the Third Order of Saint Francis is making in this country causes the story of the life of Saint Francis that is herewith presented to the public in a newly revised edition to be especially welcome. For all Tertiaries know that mere devotion to Saint Francis is of itself not sufficient to acquire the spirit of their Seraphic Father; all are aware that membership in the Third Order does not necessarily argue the possession of this spirit – and yet, every real Tertiary desires nothing more than to acquire the poor, humble, loving spirit of Saint Francis. This spirit can scarcely be acquired, unless the life of Saint Francis be well known, meditated upon and imitated as far as practicable. The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi by Father Candide Chalippe, O.F.M., is peculiarly adapted to help Tertiaries to perform this task; the spirit of Saint Francis breathes in every page. Not once, but several times may Tertiaries read this book to great advantage. With every reading new items of interest will be discovered, new lessons will present themselves to be learnt, new inspirations will be imparted to the soul from above. The more this book is read, the more it will be loved; the more it is studied, the more it will be admired. For Tertiaries a book of this kind is a necessity; it is as necessary for them as a text-book is for a scholar.

May this wonderful work spread in the future even more rapidly than before, may it receive the hearty welcome it deserves among the innumerable Tertiaries and clients of Saint Francis of Assisi and be to them a sure guide to God’s abundant graces in this world and to life everlasting in the next.