The Franciscan family is celebrating this year the 800th anniversary of the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta, Egypt, in 1219.
The historic meeting is now a model for interreligious, intercultural dialog.
According to the Franciscan website OFM.org. (Jan. 28), “In crossing Crusader army lines and being involved in the siege of Damietta to meet Al-Malik al-Kamil, Francis of Assisi has become an emblem of the possibility of overcoming barriers between peoples, cultures and religions.
“The 1219 Damietta encounter has inspired a tradition of dialog whose contemporary importance is becoming increasingly relevant. The Franciscans are 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.”
According to Fr. Antonio Rosales, OFM (Order of Friars Minor), former parish priest of Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati, the event will be commemorated with conferences in Istanbul in Turkey, Jerusalem, Rome and Venice in Italy, Paris and Murcia in Spain, to name a few.
“In southern Philippines,” Father Rosales said, “the Franciscans will commemorate the event in Tairan, Basilan, on April 2, and with the Silsilah Movement on Dialogue in Zamboanga City on June 30, with talks by Franciscans and Muslims with an open forum, songs and prayers for peace and reconciliation.”
Similar activities are to be held in Marawi on Oct. 4, and in Davao, he added.
All the events will stress the importance of interreligious dialog, which Pope Francis stressed in his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates last February, said Father Rosales.
Coincidentally, according to the Franciscan friar, the theme for 2020 of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is “Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism.”
Father Rosales ([email protected]) is now based in Davao City, teaching at the St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao City.