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St Francis asked his brothers and sisters to greet people in the following way;
‘The Lord give you peace’ and he reminded them;
“The true peacemakers are those who preserve peace of mind and body for love of Christ despite what they suffer in this world. As the brothers and sisters announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more in their hearts.”
A particular encounter during Francis’ life shows Francis putting this peace ‘of the heart’ at the centre of his following of Christ.
In 1219, during the fifth crusade, St. Francis and another brother travelled to Egypt. They went into the territory occupied by Sultan Malik al-Kamil. The encounter with Francis was very different to what the Sultan experienced with the crusaders. Francis simply shared his convictions about the Christian faith, not arguing or trying to impose these on the Sultan. The Sultan respected Francis and gave him and his brothers free passage throughout Muslim lands. After this experience Francis called his brothers who were on mission to non-believers, to strive for peaceful co-existence and to use the example of a Christian life as their message. Today, Franciscans carry on this mission of peace in many different ways, including through mediation and facilitation between Muslim and Christian communities.
At The Franciscan Centre we hope you too will find a ‘peace of the heart’. There will be a warm welcome to those of any faith or none.

Artwork by Lee Kowling ‘Francis and the Sultan’ Used with permission