Churches and mosques come together for Franciscan Call 4 Peace


This Friday, bells will ring out and gatherings will take place across Belgium in recognition of a meeting between St Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik Al-Kamil

St Francis feast day

This Friday, churches and mosques across Belgium will recognise the feast day of St Francis of Assisi and the meeting that took place on 4 October 1219. Churches and belfries will ring their bells simultaneously in the action dubbed A Franciscan Call 4 Peace.

Churches, mosques and schools in countries around the world are joining the campaign, organised by the Franciscan communities in Belgium and the Netherlands. The event commemorates the meeting that took place between St Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik Al-Kamil 800 years ago.

In 1219, in the middle of the Crusades, Francis left the crusader camp in Damietta. Barefoot and unarmed, he went to the headquarters of the sultan of Egypt. On 4 October, he was hospitably received by Sultan Malik Al-Kamil. In the midst of the violence of war, a peaceful meeting took place.

“In our time, too, there is a need for bridge builders, for people to reach out to each other,” said the event organisers in a statement. “Christians, Muslims and many other people of goodwill will meet each other in different cities.”

New carillon composition

Bells will ring out at 14.00, and dozens of carillons across the world will play “St Francis’ Trial”, written for the campaign by Flemish composer Jo Coenen. In the participating mosques, imams will refer to the historical meeting in their Friday sermons.

The event is being carried out in Belgium with the support of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference and the Muslim Executive. In Leuven, “St Francis’ Trial” will be played by the university library carillon, and a service will be held in Sint-Michiels church. Later, a potluck will be served at the Al Ihsaan mosque.

The Minderbroeders-Kapucijen church in Antwerp is holding a special ceremony that includes the ringing of the bells followed by a talk by Mohamed El Bachiri, author of Jihad van de liefde (Jihad of Love).

Photo: “Peace Triptych” (detail) by Robert Lentz