Speaker: Rev Michael Perry, OFM, minister general, Order of Friars Minor
“Eight hundred years ago, … St Francis set sail for Egypt, finally fulfilling a long-held dream of reaching out to Muslims. He arrived at the camp of the crusading army, among Latin Christians who through years of preaching and the rhetoric of holy war had been taught to scorn Muslims. Those same Muslims had every reason to scorn Francis, assuming that he, like most in the crusader camp, was an enemy and not a bearer of peace. We today celebrate what no one at that moment could have foreseen: that a Spirit-filled man, with nothing of his own, crossed the battle lines unarmed to request a meeting with the Sultan, was received with grace by that Sultan, enjoyed an extended period of hospitality with the Muslim leader, and emerged from the visit to reflect anew on the mission of the Friars Minor. Francis returned safely to his homeland profoundly moved by the encounter and crafted a new and creative vision for his brothers about how they could go among the Muslims, about the things Friars could do and say ‘that would please God’ (quae placuerint Domino, RnB 16.8). The anniversary of Francis’ encounter with al-Malik al-Kămil atDamietta in 1219, beckons us to ask again what deeds and words, amid the pluralism and complexity of the world today, would be pleasing to God.” From Quae placuerint Domino (RnB 16.8) Letter of the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor on the 800th Anniversary of the Encounter between St Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-Kămil.
Event followed by a reception.