The Seat of Francis
A Fascinating investigation into religion, relics and robbery
By Karl Hammer
Karl Hammer is a Dutch investigative journalist, author and art photographer. After his career in radio and TV, Hammer turned author in 2006, publishing his first book, Satans Lied (Satan's Song). It is a story about one of the most bizarre art thefts in history, that of a panel of Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece. The book was published in various countries and languages, among which German, French, Polish, Turkish and English (The secret of the sacred panel).Next to his work as author, Hammer is an art photographer, specifically in the relatively new genre imaginary realism, which diverts from conventional magic realism.
'Incited by a deranged maniacal mind, they have stolen his body in their sacrilegious boldness and pride' - Pope Gregory IX, June 16th, 1230
Saint Francis was more famous in his lifetime than people such as Albert Einstein or Nelson Mandela in more recent times. His wild adolescent years, filled with sex, booze and violence, make for wonderful and exciting reading. However, his story becomes even more intriguing when he turns his back on that dissolute life and, gripped by intense religious visions, chooses a life of poverty and care for his fellow beings.
In a medieval world filled with horrific wars, deadly diseases and clerical corruption, Francis develops into the symbol of peace and all good in mankind. It does not take long before crowds of people join him and the true impetus behind him becomes apparent. In all his meekness he turns out to be a force that rocks the existing establishment and compels respect from powerful kings, emperors, popes and even sultans. No wonder that following his death in 1226 he was regarded as a saint. At a time when the dead body of a saint was perceived as a powerful relic a battle commenced to possess his corpse.
Today, according to official records, the remains of Saint Francis are safely in the basilica of Assisi, where they are visited by millions every year. Dutch journalist Karl Hammer however has discovered that although there are bones in the tomb, they are not those of Saint Francis. His body was in fact stolen and replaced with that of a nameless leper, possibly a woman.
So what happened to the body of Francis?
After three years of intense investigation, aided by professionals from across the world, Karl Hammer has now fully reconstructe the events surrounding the relic's robbery. His conclusion is seriously confrontational for the present Pope who has named himself after the mediaeval saint: Francis.
Published Sept. 2015 (Dutch/Elmar) - Complete English translation
ISBN: 9789038924854 - 240 pages - Illustrated - Paperback
World Rights Available