Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Archbishop, Archdiocese of Chicago
President, American Islamic College
Despite religious differences, people of faith can find common ground.
This event brings together two modern spiritual leaders for an evening of enriching conversation, continuing a meaningful dialogue begun by a pair of pioneering religious figures nearly a millennium ago, Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt and Saint Francis of Assisi. In 1219, St. Francis and his companion Brother Illuminato accompanied the armies of western Europe to Damietta, Egypt, during the Fifth Crusade. Francis wished to speak peacefully with Muslim people about Christianity, even if it meant dying as a martyr. He tried to stop the Crusaders from attacking Muslims at the Battle of Damietta, but failed. After the western armies were defeated, Francis crossed the battle line, was arrested and eventually taken to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil.
After an initial attempt by Francis and the sultan to convert the other, both quickly realized that they each already knew and loved God. Francis and Illuminato remained with al-Kamil and his Sufi teacher Fakhr ad-din al-Farisi for as many as 20 days, discussing prayer and the spiritual life, after which time Francis was granted safe passage. This historic encounter is a paradigm for interfaith dialogue in our time.
This event is presented by the Keough School’s Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion. It is free and open to the public.
Image © St. Francis and the Sultan, Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, Courtesy of Trinity Stores, www.trinitystores.com, 800.699.4482