In solidarity with the people who suffered the violent earthquake that struck the region of Marrakech, Morocco, on the 8th September this year, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Br. Massimo Fusarelli, invites the sisters and brothers of good will to support the fundraising launched by the OFM Fraternitas Foundation.
"As Friars Minor we have been in Morocco for 800 years - is the message of the Minister - always close to that people, amongst and with the Moroccans. This presence, since the time of St. Francis and St. Clare, has never been lacking in eight centuries and to-day, even more so, we are called to help and support the Moroccan people".
The friars are already committed to bringing basic necessities to the victims of the earthquake, but food, water and medicines are needed, especially in the rural areas most affected by the earthquake.
The Custos of the Custody of the Most Holy Protomartyrs of Morocco, Br. Stéphane Delavelle, OFM, shared with us that the work of the local friars are already doing: "The parish of the Holy Martyrs of Marrakech, managed by the Friars Minor, has been supporting single-parent Moroccan families and sub-Saharan migrant families for many years. Many buildings and homes have collapsed in the historic centre of Marrakech and especially in the mountainous areas, difficult to access. In the mountainous region of the Atlas, the night temperature does not exceed 4 ° C and soon snow and cold will arrive: the population, now and in the near future, needs even more vital aid. We believe that it is our role, as Franciscans and as a Franciscan family, to think and provide for these people."
The Friars Minor have been present in Morocco since 1219. St. Francis and St. Clare had expressed the desire to bring the Gospel to the Islamic world; after the meeting in Damietta with the sultan Malik Al-Kamil in October 1219, the General Chapter decided to send five Italian friars to Morocco: fr Berardo da Calvi, fr Accursio and fr Adiuto da Narni, fr Ottone da Stroncone and fr Pietro da San Gemini; these martyrs died in Marrakesh on the 16th January, 1220. The Augustinian canon Fernando of Lisbon, after seeing the relics of their mangled bodies, decided to enter the Order and take the name of Anthony: it was St. Anthony of Padua, to-day venerated throughout the whole world.