On Saturday, May 20, 2023, a book presentation took place for a new work by Friar Felice AUTIERI. The book is entitled, “Francis and the Bishops of Assisi: The History of a Relationship.” Those attending included the author; the presentation moderator, Safira LECCESE, a journalist; the Most Reverend Domenico SORRENTINO, Bishop of Assisi; Friar Marco MORONI, the Custos of the General Custody of the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Italy (Assisi); and the Honorable Stefania PROIETTI, Mayor of Assisi. The event took place in the Hall of Spoliation [stripping] in Assisi.
The book outlines the human and spiritual journey experienced between Francis and the Bishops of Assisi: Guido I and Guido II. Further research of Franciscan history, especially in the last sixty years, has helped to bring to light the persons and personalities of Francis and the two bishops. The book clears away the many hagiographic trappings so that today their human story may be clarified. Francis’ relationship with the two bishops is analyzed by comparing the historical aspects with the hagiographic ones. During his path of conversion, from his stripping to his death at the Portiuncula, Francis entrusted himself to the hierarchical Church through the Bishops of Assisi and the Pope. The relationship between St. Francis and the two bishops was more than superficial expressions of courtesy. Theirs was an authentic relationship. When Francis returned his clothing to his father, Guido I was present during the event and defended Francis. He was beside Francis and his companions in Rome for the approval of the primitive form of life. Guido II guided him in the growth of the Franciscan movement and wanted him to stay in the bishop’s palace shortly before his death. Guido II gave orders that Francis be temporarily interred in the church of San Giorgio.
Francis was certainly aware of the deficiencies, sins and betrayals committed by clergymen and the institutional Church. Nevertheless, he wanted to serve it as a caring son, so much so that he was “church” in the “Church.” More than surprising us, the author shows us that Francis, who was authentically a man and a saint, was someone who was holiness incarnate in life. As such, the author makes him particularly relevant and credible today.
Friar Felice AUTIERI