A belated Happy New Year to everyone. My long absence has been due to my breaking my right arm on December 16. This means that for the past six weeks I have been forced to type with one hand. Naturally this has slowed my work considerably and left me no time for blogging. I’ve missed quite a lot of important news, but I’ll try to catch up. For starters, here’s my latest newsletter for Tau Cross Books with some exciting Franciscan news.
I know I’m quite late getting this newsletter out, but the delay has allowed me to share with you, among other things, two late-breaking Franciscan news stories.
But first I want to give you some news to make winter a little less dreary– we are offering 50% off our e-books from now until February 28. And take a look at our new web page design, which offers a better view of the book covers.
Thanks for your continued support.
Lori Pieper, OFS
Franciscan Classics Series
I’m quite excited about this new project. As I mentioned last month, we are planning to offer e-book versions of some classic Franciscan works. You may have noticed lately many older works that have fallen into the public domain for sale on Amazon and similar places. Well-known classics will get fancy new editions because publishers know they can sell a large number of copies, and sell them cheaply. Lesser-known works, like our Franciscan classics, will receive shoddy treatment; print versions will often be mere mechanical reproductions of worn, faint or blurry original text; e-book versions are made via OCR based on the original, but not corrected or proofread. Covers will feature stock photos in no way connected with the subject of the work. And they ask a high price for them. I think it’s possible to do a much better job with these books and at a lower price. In fact I’ve almost finished work on the first one: A Tuscan Penitent: The Life and Legend of St. Margaret of Cortona, by Fr. Cuthbert of Brighton, first published in 1907. I hope to offer it in time for her feast-day February 22. More about this next month.
Breaking Franciscan News
One of these stories you probably know already—Pope Francis will canonize the Franciscan missionary to California, Bl. Junipero Serra, during his visit to the U.S. this fall, most likely during his visit to Washington, D. C., where Serra is honored with a statue in the U.S. Capitol.
The other story has been much less publicized, but to me it is equally exciting: Franciscan researcher Jacques Dalarun, following a tip from a former student, has discovered an ancient manuscript of a new life of St. Francis, by Thomas of Celano, written only a few years after his death. The text, known as the Umbrian Legend, contains details about the saint’s life unknown until now. Here’s an excellent summary. Some excerpts:
Speaking to L’Osservatore Romano, Dalarun said, “It is a summary, written between 1232 and 1239, of the first version of the Legenda, considered too long by its contemporaries. In addition new elements have been added and, after a careful reading, it becomes clear that the author’s reflection becomes deeper over time, especially on the theme of poverty and love for creation. Tommaso da Celano was a very profound man and he never stopped reflecting on the teachings of Francis. . . It is a vast text: the Latin edition is about 60 pages long. Many comments which were in the first version have been eliminated, and there are some new points.” . . .
Asked if there is anything in the text that struck him, Dalarun said, “An episode which we already knew about but which is told differently than the so-called Legenda trium sociorum. What we can read now is probably the older and more authentic version. It speaks about Francis’ visit to Rome, but not as the pilgrimage of an already converted person, who embraced religious life. In this case, it describes the business visit of a merchant, who is struck by the poverty of the beggars he sees near St Peter’s. He asks himself if he would be able to survive a similar experience. . .Tommaso also adds other specific and concrete details. He explains that Francis repaired the holes in his tunic using the threads of tree bark and grasses which he found in the field, just like those who had absolutely nothing, not even a needle to sew with.”
Be sure to read the rest of this fascinating story here.