8th Centenary of the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Al-Malik Al-Kǟmil: Conferences in Murcia-Granada, Venice, Rome, Jerusalem, Istanbul

The 1219 Damietta encounter has inspired a tradition of dialogue whose contemporary importance is becoming increasingly relevant. The Pontifical University Antonianum is committed to making the memory of this meeting ever more fruitful, seeing this as a necessary counterbalance to the political and environmental crises that characterize our era.

The PUA wishes to encourage gatherings for reflection and discussion in places of Franciscan significance (both past and present), with a focus on a geopolitics of peace and peaceful coexistence between peoples.

  • Murcia-GranadaMarch 4th-7th, 2019:  A reflection on the languages, the culture, and the methodology of encounters between religions — from the perspective of Raymond Lull.
  • Venice, March 14th, 2019:  The St. Bernardine Ecumenical Institute will lead discussions on deepening our understanding of new approaches to interreligious and ecumenical reciprocity.
  • Rome, April 9th, 2019:  The three faculties of the Pontifical University Antonianum will cooperate on presenting the theme of how Al Malik’s hospitality is recorded in the Christian tradition.
  • Jerusalem, May 15th, 2019:The focus will be on the event itself — the meeting between Francis and Al-Malik and its historiographical developments.
  • Istanbul, October 19th, 2019:The current and future states of Islamic-Christian relationships will be considered.

 

In crossing Crusader army lines and being involved in the siege of Damietta on his way to meeting Al-Malik, Francis of Assisi has become an emblem of the possibility of overcoming barriers between peoples, cultures, and religions. In a creative interpretation, the so-called “Peace Prayer of St. Francis” was attributed to him during the cruelties of the First World War — a specter that looms menacingly once more. The prayer was also used during the 1986 Inter-faith meeting in Assisi, and by Pope Francis in Myanmar.

The event and its interpretation have become merged and blended, and this interaction is deserving of an evaluative study that will carefully avoid positivistic presuppositions or anachronisms. Ecumenical reflection has been innovative in seeing Francis as an ideal of inter-confessional reform and renewal in the human, social, political, ethical, and aesthetic fields.

Subsequently, Francis also comes to exemplify religion that is open and capable of including even those who do not identify with institutional religion.