The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi and Song of Roland are two different books written during the medieval period. They are considered to be classic Christian literature. But do these books give advice or demonstrate how a Christian should have lived during the medieval period?
Personally, I do not think either book provided any kind of advice for Christians who lived during the medieval years. Even though both were based on true stories, the authors added so many fictional stories that the factual parts were completely lost or forgotten.
The Song of Roland was based on the First Crusade. For a book that was based on a war, there was no war propaganda whatsoever. When I started reading the book, I fully expected there to be passages that promoted the war and ‘fighting for the cause.’ However, not only was there no war propaganda, there was no advice for Christians.
I am not sure why Song of Roland is considered to be a classic in Christian literature. There were no Bible quotes, lessons to Christians, or anything suggesting that the author was a Christian. If I did not know any better, I would assume the book is another medieval piece of literature that would not meet today’s standard of writing.
In The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi there were so many ridiculously, fantastical stories that only a fool would read the book and believe any of the stories. Unlike Song of Roland, the book did give advice, but not advice that a regular Christian could follow.
For example, there were several stories showing how friars and clerics should live. The book emphasized on living in poverty and humility, as well as suffering like Christ did on the cross. These stories only applied to those who devoted their whole being to the Church. Everyday men and women could not follow, the advice given in the book.
The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi also gave Christians a very pessimistic idea of death. In several chapters, the book talked about purgatory. For those who do not know, purgatory is a state after death where you suffer to get rid of your sins.
In the book, many friars, despite living holy and pious lives, were stuck in purgatory and were not released. If a friar could not leave purgatory, what hope did a normal man or woman have? In some stories, purgatory was only cleansed of the souls after an extremely holy man died. Did that mean people had to wait until someone pious died for them to be free of the torture?
As you can see, neither books offered advice to the common Christian. If I was a Christian in the medieval ages, and I read these books, I would not be very pleased with what I spent my time on. Especially The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi. That book would have scared more than helped.
Thanks for reading!