For recommended pre-tour reading
(in no particular order)
Persons wishing more detailed and scholarly reading should contact Lynne or Gerald.
1. On Sts Clare and Catherine,
• two chapters in Monica Furlong, Visions and Longings, Medieval Women Mystics (1997).
• Bartoli, Marco. Clare of Assisi. (Trans. Frances Teresa, OSC) Quincy, Illinois: Franciscan Press, 1993.
• Two chapters on Clare of Assisi and Catherine of Siena in Carol Lee Flinders excellent book Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
• Meane, Catherine M. CSJ My Nature is Fire: Saint Catherine of Siena. New York: Alba House, 1991.
2. Robert Graves, Count Belisarius (1938). A lengthy and excellent fictional biography of the great general of Emperor Justinian and his empress Theodora, who are closely linked with Byzantine Ravenna.
3. The novels of Donna Leon. Delightful mystery tales all set in Venice. While our pilgrimage is not going to Venice, Leon has lived for decades there and captures very well life in contemporary northern Italy.
4. Anthony Doerr, Four Seasons in Rome. Written in 2007, the reminiscences of an American couple living for a year in Rome, the year of the death of Pope John Paul II. A lovely read.
5. Luigi Barzini, The Italians (1964). A brilliant and very readable portrait of a people and its culture, endearing as well as critical. Well worth the read even 50 years later, when some things are changed, but much is the same.
6. Irvin Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961) acclaimed biography of the artist Michelangelo (16th C.). Worth reading.
7. Biographies & studies of Francis of Assisi are numerous. One of the best is that by G.K.Chesterton, Saint Francis of Assisi, published in 1923, still in print.
8. The recent series Classics in Western Spirituality, has excellent volumes of St. Benedict of Nursia, on St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Catherine of Siena. All are available through Amazon, and are in all theological libraries.
9. On the Waldensians, the best recent study from earluiest times till today is Euan Cameron, The Waldenses (2001).
10. On the emperor Constantine, huis mother Helena, and her quest for the True Cross, the novel by Louis de Wohl, The Living Wood¨Saint Helena and the Emperor Constantine, (1947) available in paper et Amazon.
11. On St. Benedict, a good novel by Louis de Wohl, Citadel of God. 1959.
12. On St. Francis of Assisi, The Joyful Beggar, by Louis de Wohl
The novels of Louis de Wohl are particularly recommended by Gerald for their historical accuracy.
Films – Modern Italy
* Tea with Mussolini (1999). An engaging look into life in fascist Italy for non-Italians, through the story of a group of British and American women living in Florence.
* Life is Beautiful (1999). An Oscar-winning story of an Italian Jewish bookseller , who attempts to shield his small son from the realities of the Holocaust.
* Il Postino – The Postman (1994). Life in the 1950’s on a poverty-stricken small island on the southern coast of Italy. Well worth seeing, it portrays realities of Italian political and social life on the province of Sicily., within a heart-warming story.
* Borgias A 2011-2013 series produced for TV at great expense, now runs on Netflix. Fairly authentic portrayal of life of the privileged in Renaissance Italy from 1492- 1500. Very graphic violence and sexuality.
* The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). Starring Charlton Heston (who was generally criticized, as one would expect) and Rex Harrison (praised), a slow movie on the career of Michelangelo, but given some critical appreciation. Worth seeing.
* The Name of the Rose (1986) adaptation of the novel, starring Sean Connery. Worth seeing for portrayal of religious and social rising chaos in 14th C. Italy and divided Franciscan order in particular.
* Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972). Film biography of St.Francis by Zeffirelli. Worth seeing; the interpretation of Francis shows the context of 1960’s anti-establishment popular culture
* Ben Hur (remade in 2016 with Morgan Freeman, and no horses killed J); the 1959 version starring Charlton Heston was 3.5 hrs, but is considered one of the best US movies of all time. There was also an early silent version). Based on the excellent 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, Ben Hur: a tale of the Christ.