St. Francis and the Leper

Kenneth Baxter Wolf

in The Poverty of Riches

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780195158083
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834877 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

 St. Francis and the Leper

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One of the ways in which Francis dramatized his conversion was by kissing a leper, an act that symbolized his desire to detach himself from the worldly life of the urban elite and embrace a life apart, the life of a spiritual leper. The power of this gesture lay in the deep‐rooted disdain that people living during that time felt for the victims of leprosy. Though the biographies indicate that Francis and his brothers spent time in the company of lepers, the point for the early Franciscans seems to have been less to alleviate the suffering of the lepers through acts of charity than to draw attention to their own status as voluntary lepers.

Keywords: charity; conversion; Francis; leper; leprosy; urban

Chapter.  3561 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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