Love and Saint Francis of Assisi: A Performer in the Middle Ages
Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies Vol. 8, No. 4, (September 2012)
Saint Francis can be viewed as a postmodern contemporary to countless movements and radicals in the 21st century. His personhood has all the elements of a flamboyant melodrama except for the fact that there is a historical being, the truth of whose life is stranger than a work of fiction could possibly be. In recognizing the reality of the person, history has absolved the saint from being a lyrical episode in a cosmic narrative for us to acknowledge his humanity, the very history that Francis the performer is determined to subvert at all costs. Adrian House, in his biography, writes of Francis.
Spending most of his life out of doors, in all seasons, his vision of man’s place in nature and the universe was as intense and apocalyptic as William Blake’s or Walt Whitman’s. His anthem of praise to God on this theme, The Canticle of Brother Sun, composed during his final illness, was one of his last and most memorable achieve- ments. It is also the first poem in Italian to survive, and is said to have inclined Dante to write The Divine Comedy in Italian rather than Latin.