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Pandemic Reflections: Saint Francis and the Lepers Catch Up with COVID


Title: Pandemic Reflections
Subtitle: Saint Francis and the Lepers Catch Up with COVID
Subject Classification: Religion and Faith, COVID-19, Society and Culture
BIC Classification: HRC, MJCJ, JF
BISAC Classification: REL010000, REL028000, REL012110
Binding: Hardback, Paperback, ebook, pp.414
Publication date: 27th September 2023
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-80441-048-6
ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-80441-411-8
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-80441-049-3


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St Francis of Assisi, one of the most acclaimed and enduring of saints, is particularly significant when reflecting upon the COVID pandemic. Francis lived, and ministered, amid a leprosy pandemic. How he lived in relation to that pandemic makes him a source of insight to as well as a potential critic of contemporary responses to COVID. In turn, one can use COVID to question Francis. Did he exhibit a harmful form of religious devotion, perhaps fanaticism, by exposing himself and others to a lethal pathogen? This edited collection examines a highly visible and impactful religious figure with the intent of bringing him into conversation with one of the defining issues of the early 21st Century.


Editor: Geoffrey Karabin is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Neumann University, Pennsylvania, USA


“These timely essays help us, who strive to live by Franciscan values, do more than ponder our role in a world of easy sickness. What are we called to do? What does it mean to be responsible to God, ourselves, and others? I’m thankful for these writers.”

—Jon M. Sweeney, editor of The Complete Francis of Assisi and author of Feed the Wolf. 


“Pandemic Reflections is a must-read for anyone who wants to examine how St. Francis’ embrace of lepers provides insight into the world’s response to the COVID pandemic.  As Pandemic Reflections masterfully moves beyond ideology to explore the relationship between Francis’ embrace and the COVID pandemic through the lens of a variety of disciplines, it does not offer overly simplistic answers as to whether the example of Francis’ relationship with lepers provides argumentative support for specific policies and practices during the pandemic.  Rather, Pandemic Reflections provides a multi-faceted and Franciscan-informed analysis of the experience of and general response to the pandemic.  Perhaps most importantly, Pandemic Reflections also explores how the example of Francis’ embrace, which was central to his own personal conversion, can lead the post-COVID world to its own conversion, one in which humanity does not return to “normal” but instead is moved by compassion to develop a greater sense of solidarity with the suffering, the forgotten, and the marginalized.  In this way, Pandemic Reflections sheds light on how Francis and the Franciscan Tradition might prepare the world to respond to any future crises in a way that promotes right relationships and human flourishing better than was the case with the response to COVID.”

John Kruse, Professor of Theology and author of Discovering the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: A Life-Giving Vision.


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