Chasing Francis

Detail from a fresco in the Brancacci ChapelA friend recently recommended a book entitled “Chasing Francis” by Ian Morgan Cron that tells the story of a Protestant pastor of a large church in New England and his crisis of faith.

In the story, the pastor is invited to visit Italy by his cousin, who is a Catholic monk, for a spirtitual break from the world.

The story unfolds with his visiting first the Brancacci Chapel in Florence, where there are two compelling frescoes of Adam and Eve, along with others telling the story of Peter.

Massaccio’s fresco shows Adam and Eve after the fall, and it shows the human anguish they felt at the moment of banishment from the garden, whereas Massino’s Adam and Eve are more brightly depicted, right before the moment of temptation.

The journey continues to Assisi where Chase, the protagonist, discovers Francis in all of his human as well as saintly form.

Francis is well known for his visits on foot throughout Italy, and especially in Umbria.  He spoke to the wolf in Gubbio, created the first Nativity scene in Greccio, visited Spoleto and the area of Lake Trasimeno.

And of course St. Francis’s soulful presence is most felt in the Assisi area, where he would spend time in Eremo dei Carceri—best known for site where Francis spoke to the birds.  Giotto’s depiction of this scene can be found in the beautiful Basilica in Assisi.

In the end, Chase eventually returns to the United States, bring with him the sense of peace and reconciliation that Francis is known for throughout the world.

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