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Ask a Franciscan: St. Francis and the Sultan

How did St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil become friends? What led to the ending of that friendship?

They met only once in late 1219, for about two weeks. Francis and Brother Illuminato went to preach the Gospel to the sultan, who immediately recognized Francis as a very spiritual man. The sultan was a very devout Sunni Muslim. He gave Francis an ivory horn that is displayed in Assisi’s Basilica of St. Francis. Francis died in 1226; the sultan died 12 years later.

During the Fifth Crusade when Christians and Muslims were killing one another, Francis risked his life to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ to the sultan, who respected him deeply.

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