I’m Patricia Appelbaum. My book, St. Francis of America: How a Thirteenth Century Friar Became America’s Most Popular Saint, came out in October 2015 from the University of North Carolina Press, a distinguished publisher in American religious history.
I first started this project because it seemed to me that St. Francis was everywhere in American culture, even among non-Catholics. In Protestant circles, you could assume that pretty much everyone had at least heard of him. People who were not otherwise interested in saints not only knew who he was, but admired and loved him. People who didn’t routinely make use of pictures or images in their religious practice often saw nothing wrong with St. Francis garden statues, or just took them for granted. And the more I looked, the more I saw.
Now the book is done, but St. Francis is still out there, and I still keep running into him. Or is it people’s ideas of him that I run into? Either way, this blog is to keep track of the encounters and ideas and images.
About me: I have a Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University, an M.A. from Andover Newton Theological School, and a B. A. from Brown University, and I went to a Quaker high school. I’ve taught at the University of Massachusetts and at Springfield College. In addition to teaching, I’ve been a college administrator and student advisor, and before that, a librarian. I’ve also worked very happily in a cheese shop, a child-care center, and a newspaper office.