Monday 14 March 2022

Message of Assisi The Shrine of St Francis of Assisi - Dr Chris Simpson - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Message of Assisi: The Shrine of St Francis of Assisi 
CTS Christian Shrines Series
Dr. Chris Simpson
Catholic Truth Society

ISBN 9781860821776
eISBN 9781784694067
CTS Booklet D658

Over the last few years, I have read over 275 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I have greatly enjoyed many of the books in the Christian Shrines Series. To be honest this volume just did not work for me. It does not fit with other from the series. IT feels like an odd duck out! The books from the Christian Shrines series come in a few flavours, some for going on pilgrimage, some as overviews of the message. This one has ‘Message’ in the title but it is mostly a tourist guide. It feels more like a Rough Guide or Lonely Planet tourist or travel book. 

The descriptions of this volume is:

“This booklet helps us to experience the spirit of St Francis amid the modern life in Assisi, with helpful advice on where to go and what to see in a spiritual and practical guide for pilgrims.

Assisi is a beautiful city, packed with history, ancient buildings and wonderful art. It is however, first and foremost the place where the most radical Christian of the last 2,000 years lived. In this booklet Chris Simpson takes you on a pilgrimage to Assisi. Above all this booklet helps us to experience the spirit of St Francis of Assisi amid the hustle and bustle of modern life. There is also helpful advice on where to go and what to see.”

The chapters in this volume are:

The Story of Francis
Basilica di San Francesco
San Damiano
Basilica di Santa Chiara
Piazza del Comune and the streets of Assisi
Santa Maria degli Angeli
The Carceri and the Hills of Monte Subasio
Other Places to Visit
A Life of Simplicity
Prayers and Readings for the Pilgrim
Useful Information
Further Reading

It contains recommendations of places to stay, the best food, activities in and around Assisi, recommendations for accommodations, restaurants, ways to get there and how to travel about. There are some personal stories spattered throughout the book, including one about a barefoot walk.

“Francis has a peculiar effect on people so let me give you a warning. When I lived in Assisi I helped a disabled friar who offered me any treat that I would like. My choice was to stay at the Carceri for a week in the little Friary. I chose to walk there but to show my commitment to poverty and closeness to Francis I chose to walk without shoes. This seemed a fantastic idea at the time! My delicate middle class pink feet were not in a hardened state to cope with the asphalt roads. I ended up in absolute agony at the Carceri with blisters on the soles of my feet. This pain did not ruin my time there and in a strange way made me feel closer to the spirit of Francis. It is a great walk but I would suggest you keep your shoes on!”

 Some of the recommendations are based on personal experience, others second or third hand information. Overall I was unimpressed and underwhelmed with this volume. Of all the books from the CTS that I have read it is the only one I have been disappointed in. Most of the books in this series and across the CTS volumes I read I immediacy plan to read again, or to pass on to someone else. This one I do not really have a use for. 

A disappointing volume in an otherwise excellent series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Christian Shrines series click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisi
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James

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