Lecture at Benedictine University Explores Meeting of St. Francis and the Sultan

One of the earliest stories about peaceful dialogue between Christians and Muslims dates back to the Crusades in the 13th century when St. Francis of Assisi went behind enemy lines to speak with Sultan Malik al-Kamil of Egypt.

Because there are no firsthand accounts of the meeting, later depictions – both written and artistic – molded the story to suit particular time periods, groups and places. For example, some medieval images show St. Francis jumping into fire, signaling his willingness to become a martyr, while a 21st- century icon depicts St. Francis and the sultan embracing, indicating a peaceful dialogue between the two. 

This historical event and its role in Muslim-Christian dialogue will be explored during the presentation, “Francis and the Sultan: An Emblematic Encounter?” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17, in the Fr. Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B., Art Gallery on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall at Benedictine University. 

John Tolan, Ph.D., acclaimed international scholar of medieval Christian-Muslim relations and professor of History at the Université de Nantes in France, will be the featured speaker. He is the author of “Saint Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslim Encounter” and “Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination.”

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Scholars Program, the College of Liberal Arts and the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Benedictine. The lecture is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Reservations are required. 

To make a reservation, contact Rita George-Tvrtkovic, Ph.D., event organizer and assistant professor of Theology at Benedictine, at rgeorge-tvrtkovic@ben.edu