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The Poverty of RichesSt. Francis of Assisi Reconsidered$
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Kenneth Baxter Wolf

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195158083

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195158083.001.0001

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St. Francis and His Poverty

St. Francis and His Poverty

(p.19) 3 St. Francis and His Poverty
The Poverty of Riches

Kenneth Baxter Wolf (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To a degree, Francis modeled his voluntary poverty on the poverty of the involuntary poor, who served as the most immediate “visual aids” for what his artificial poverty might look like. But aside from appearances (Francis owned nothing, wore a rough tunic, and resorted to begging for his food), Francis's poverty was utterly different from that of the ordinary poor, in that Francis regarded his poverty as something to be sought after and protected, as if it were a form of wealth; as something to be exaggerated, in order to assure that he would receive his heavenly recompense. Francis's aversion to money and possessions prevented him from alleviating the poverty of the ordinary poor, for fear of compromising his own “perfect poverty,” a form of poverty that was, ironically enough, out of the reach of those whose poverty prevented them from making the same kind of voluntary sacrifices.

Keywords:   begging, Francis, money, poor, voluntary poverty

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