Recommended Reading

Below are some books and resources that may assist you as you consider whether God is calling you to be a Franciscan friar. Looking for additional recommendations? Contact a member of our Franciscan Vocation Ministry Team – we're here to help you with your discernment.

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Holy Name Province Resouces

Step by Step: a Guide to Becoming a Franciscan Friar

This helpful booklet provides an overview of Holy Name Province's discernment and formation programs, from vocation retreats to professing solemn vows.

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The Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province: An Introduction

The largest of the seven OFM provinces in the United States, Holy Name is made up of more than 250 friars who serve at ministries along the East Coast. Get to know the Province's members, mission, and values in this short informational booklet.

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Franciscan Books

Below are our favorite picks of Franciscan literature for anyone looking to discover more about St. Francis and the Franciscan way of life.

Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God
by Casey Cole

Whether you’re considering a religious vocation or simply trying to lead a Christ-centered life, Franciscan friar Casey Cole has news: Christian life doesn’t end with a profession of faith or hearing of God’s call. That’s when it begins.

Compassion: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis
by Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF

What is compassion and how does it emerge in the human heart? What moves one to compassion? Can we learn compassion as a way of life? Can we let go of our fears to love more deeply? “Compassion” by Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF, guides us through the life of Francis, tracing his growth from a selfish materialistic young man to the humble, holy saint beloved by millions.  With this book as your guide, you can do simple things every day to discover a more compassionate, open, fearless, and loving life – just as St. Francis did.

Dating God
by Daniel Horan, OFM

It may seem shocking to compare our relationship with God to the notion of “dating,” but this book does. With fresh insight and a deep personal spirituality, Fr. Daniel Horan, OFM, points out that the desire, uncertainty, and love we experience in relationship with God resembles our earthly relationships: we set aside time for the people who are most important to us. Horan reminds us that St. Francis of Assisi understood and even described his relationship with God in a similar way. Drawing from the Franciscan tradition, “Dating God” encourages us to see St. Francis’s spirituality in a new light, challenging us to reexamine our own spirituality, prayer, and relationships, and inviting us into a more intimate relationship with our Creator.

Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi

by Richard Rohr, OFM

Globally recognized as an ecumenical teacher, Richard Rohr started out – and remains – a Franciscan friar. The loving, inclusive life and preaching of Francis of Assisi make him a recognizable and beloved saint across many faith traditions. He was, as Rohr notes, “a master of ‘making room for it’ and letting go of that which was tired or empty.” Francis found an “alternative way” to follow Jesus, one that disregarded power and privilege and held fast to the narrow path of the Gospel. Rohr helps us look beyond the birdbath image of the saint to remind us of the long tradition founded on his revolutionary, radical, and life-changing embrace of the teachings of Jesus.

El Hermano de Asis
by Ignacio Larranaga

Ignacio Larranaga provides in his work a critically acclaimed biography of St. Francis written in Spanish.

Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero
by Michael Ford

This spiritual portrait of Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, by Michael Ford is a remarkable testimony to the hope and courage that he brought to thousands of people – not only as the New York City fire chaplain during the attack on the World Trade Center, where he died, but also as a minister to the wide range of people he met during his life. Featuring exclusive interviews with some of his closest friends and associates, the book explores the inner life of New York’s popular and charismatic Franciscan who became an overnight American hero.

Francis of Assisi: The Essential Writings In His Own Words

by Jon Sweeney

Biographies of St. Francis will only take you so far. It’s impossible to truly understand him without reading his writings. Jon Sweeney has compiled all of the ones that we are most certain come from Francis himself, including his first Rule of Life, the Rule he wrote for the Third Order, letters to friends, letters to people in power, messages to all Franciscans, songs, praises, canticles, and his final spiritual testament. An introduction and explanatory notes throughout the book help to put the writings into historical and theological context.

God’s Fool: The Life and Times of Francis of Assisi

by Julian Green

This warm, richly detailed biography by Julian Green brings the beloved saint alive in all his human and profoundly spiritual dimensions.

Reluctant Saint: The Life of St. Francis of Assisi
by Donald Spoto

Acclaimed biographer Donald Spoto strips away the legends from the life of Francis of Assisi to reveal the true story of a man who has too often been obscured by pius iconography. Drawing on unprecedented access to unexplored archives, plus Francis’s own letters, Spoto places Francis within the context of the multifaceted ecclesiastical, political, and social forces of medieval Italy, casting new light on Francis and showing how his emphasis on charity as the heart of the Gospel’s message helped him pioneer a new social movement. This nuanced portrait reveals the multifaceted character of a man who can genuinely be said to have changed the course of history.

St. Anthony of Padua: His Life, Legends, and Devotions
by Fr. Jack Wintz, OFM

In this expanded edition of a perennial favorite, you will learn even more about the beloved saint’s life in Italy and Portugal, as well as where the saint hid to pray – interesting details pulled from Fr. Jack’s recent pilgrimages to the sites where Anthony walked, ministered, preached and prayed. “St. Anthony of Padua” provides a from-the-heart look at the saint’s life, the legends surrounding him, and the prayers and devotions to him. You will connect anew to this follower of St. Francis of Assisi with this useful and inspiring guide.

St. Francis of Assisi: A Biography
by Fr. Omer Englebert, OFM

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the best-known and best-loved of all the saints. This classic work puts him in the context of his historical setting and his spiritual influences. Inspired by a deep and simple love, Francis abandoned his fortune and chose to live simply. His love for Jesus Christ, his love for animals, and his love for nature continue to inspire many to this day. This version has been redesigned for a modern audience who wish to continue to connect to this simple man of Assisi.

Surrounded by Love: Seven Teachings by Saint Francis
by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM

In his newest book, Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, brings to life seven teachings from the life and writings of St. Francis of Assisi in the prayerful, lyrical style his readers will recognize. These seven teachings are both a way and a destination, the way being transformation and the destination being the love of God. St Francis invites us to go on a journey from love through love into love.

Tales of St. Francis: Ancient Stories for Contemporary Living
by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM

A collection of tales and legends about St. Francis of Assisi highlighting lessons as relevant today as they were 800 years ago, compiled by Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM.

The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton: A New Look at the Spiritual Inspiration of His Life, Thought, and Writing
by Fr. Dan Horan, OFM

Daniel Horan, OFM, popular author of Dating God and other books on Franciscan themes — and expert on the spirituality of Thomas Merton —masterfully presents the untold story of how the most popular saint in Christian history inspired the most popular spiritual writer of the twentieth century, and how together they can inspire a new generation of Christians.

The Gospels According to St. Francis
by Fr. Hilarion Kistner, OFM

Francis of Assisi fell so in love with God and God’s Word that he wanted nothing more than to live the Gospel. His understanding of Scripture shaped the way he strove to imitate Jesus in every aspect of his life. A Franciscan priest, Scripture scholar and teacher, Fr. Hilarion Kistner, OFM, explores how Francis heard, lived, and proclaimed the Gospel. He considers Francis’s profound love for the Gospel, the movement of the Holy Spirit through the written word, the heart of the Gospels, and how Francis lived in the Gospel light.

The Loneliness and Longing of St. Francis
by Gerry Straub

Gerry Straub was a successful Hollywood producer when he found himself alone inside a Franciscan church in Assisi. The avowed atheist had little inkling of the radical turn his life was about to take as he began a journey of conversion that would carry him from the heights of career success to the poorest places on Earth. His spiritual guide would be a medieval saint with a powerful, yet sublimely simple message for a contemporary world.

The St. Francis Prayer Book: A Guide to Deepen Your Spiritual Life
by Jon Sweeney

This warm-hearted little book is a window into the soul of St. Francis, one of the most passionate and inspiring followers of Jesus. “Prayer was to Francis as play is to a child: natural, easy, creative, and joyful,” author Jon Sweeney tells us. “Before it became common to speak in personal terms of a relationship with God, Francis did so and made it seem natural.” With this guide, readers will (1) pray the words that Francis taught his spiritual brothers and sisters to pray, (2) explore Francis’s time and place and feel the joy and earnestness of the first Franciscans and (3) experience how it is possible to live both a contemplative and active life.

The Wandering Friar: A Traveling Franciscan Preacher Looks at the Church Through the Stories of Its Members
by Fr. John Anglin, OFM

The Catholic Church, a term that evokes wonder, curiosity, awe, and reverence; but also hurt, confusion, and anger. As a dyed in the wool member of this Church, a Franciscan friar, and a priest, Fr. John Anglin, OFM, presents a positive picture of the Church not through its institutional structures or through the many things positive and negative reported about it in the media, but through the lived experience of its members that he has encountered during his extensive travels throughout his more than 40 years of active ministry. Through “The Wandering Friar,” you will meet the rich and the poor, city folk, suburbanites, and country people. You will likewise meet Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans, some of strong faith, others of weak or growing faith, but all of them Catholic. You will likewise read of Fr. John’s early life and how he came to grow into an exciting and rewarding ministry.

The Wisdom of the Poor One of Assisi
by Eloi Leclerc

Returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, St. Francis finds the Order of humble friars, which he has founded, has grown so tremendously that now more than 6,000 monks consider themselves “Franciscans.” But St. Francis is appalled to find that with this apparent success came a total rejection of his original vision, which this thriving community of friars regarded as outmoded and unsuited for their current needs. When he remonstrates, they suggest that is Francis cannot adapt to the new rules and regulations, perhaps he should go elsewhere.

Rejected by the Order which he founded and despondent that the vision he felt God gave him is being scorned, Francis withdraws to a mountain hermitage with his beloved Brother Leo. There, in a Spartan cave during a long winter of the soul, Francis arrives at new insights into what God requires of those who would follow Christ. This heartening story by Eloi Leclerc brings comfort to all who have faced loss or failure and feel that God is no longer smiling with favor on them. Trudging the paths with St. Francis, one comes to a flowering spring filled with new insights on what is required of those who would call themselves “Christians.”

To Live as Francis Lived: A Guide for Secular Franciscans
by Jovian Weigel, Leonard Foley, and Patti Normile

Whether you are a professed Franciscan of many years or someone just beginning to seek a spiritual understanding of Francis and Clare of Assisi, “To Live as Francis Lived” will lead you to a closer life with Jesus Christ. Through a process of prayer, reflection, study texts, questions and connections to Scripture, you will be formed in the Franciscan way of life as Francis lived it in his own time. Staub’s dramatic story is a modern-day pilgrimage into the prayerful heart of St. Francis of Assisi. The initial jolt of self-discovery that Francis was chasing Lady Poverty, while he was chasing Brother BMW, gave way to the gradual realization that conversion is a slow, grace-filled process, filled with ups and downs of everyday life. Winding his own spiritual and physical journey along Francis’s path, Straub discovers first-hand what it might have meant for Francis to live among the homeless, to encounter lepers, and to spend hours in contemplative prayer. His story encourages each of us to look inward and to personally discover how the spirituality that inspired Pope Francis can shape our own spiritual journey. An inspiring, life-changing read.

When Saint Francis Saved the Church
by Jon Sweeney

In “When Saint Francis Saved the Church,” popular historian Jon Sweeney presents an intriguing portrait of Francis beyond the readily familiar stories and images. In the tradition of Thomas Cahill’s “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” Sweeney reveals how the saint became a hinge in the history of the Christian faith and shows how in just fourteen years – from 1205 to 1219 – the unconventional and stumbling wisdom of a converted troubadour changed the Church. Sweeney outlines Francis’s revolutionary approach to friendship, “the other” (people at the margins), poverty, spirituality, care (for people, creatures, and the natural world), and death. This vibrant book presents the unsullied life and message of Francis in its essential details, offering a sweeping, informative, remarkable look at how Francis and his movement quite literally saved the Christian faith – and continues to offer a spiritual vision with contemporary relevance.