The 1219 Damietta encounter has inspired a tradition of dialogue whose contemporary importance is becoming increasingly relevant. The Pontifical University Antonianum is committed to making the memory of this meeting ever more fruitful, seeing this as a necessary counterbalance to the political and environmental crises that characterize our era.
The PUA wishes to encourage gatherings for reflection and discussion in places of Franciscan significance (both past and present), with a focus on a geopolitics of peace and peaceful coexistence between peoples.
Murcia-Granada, March 4th-7th, 2019: A reflection on the languages, the culture, and the methodology of encounters between religions — from the perspective of Raymond Lull.
Venice, March 14th, 2019: The St. Bernardine Ecumenical Institute will lead discussions on deepening our understanding of new approaches to interreligious and ecumenical reciprocity.
Rome, April 9th, 2019: The three faculties of the Pontifical University Antonianum will cooperate on presenting the theme of how Al Malik’s hospitality is recorded in the Christian tradition.
Jerusalem, May 15th, 2019:The focus will be on the event itself — the meeting between Francis and Al-Malik and its historiographical developments.
Istanbul, October 19th, 2019:The current and future states of Islamic-Christian relationships will be considered.
In crossing Crusader army lines and being involved in the siege of Damietta on his way to meeting Al-Malik, Francis of Assisi has become an emblem of the possibility of overcoming barriers between peoples, cultures, and religions. In a creative interpretation, the so-called “Peace Prayer of St. Francis” was attributed to him during the cruelties of the First World War — a specter that looms menacingly once more. The prayer was also used during the 1986 Inter-faith meeting in Assisi, and by Pope Francis in Myanmar.
The event and its interpretation have become merged and blended, and this interaction is deserving of an evaluative study that will carefully avoid positivistic presuppositions or anachronisms. Ecumenical reflection has been innovative in seeing Francis as an ideal of inter-confessional reform and renewal in the human, social, political, ethical, and aesthetic fields.
Subsequently, Francis also comes to exemplify religion that is open and capable of including even those who do not identify with institutional religion.
From the 10th to 15th October 2018, the OFM General Definitory visited the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. The program allowed the General Government to devote time to learning about the significant aspects of the life and mission of the Custody, visiting the holy places and taking part in various celebrations with the Fraternities and the local Church.
The following events were organized: a meeting of the Minister and General Definitory with the Custos and the Discretorium of the Custody of the Holy Land, in the convent of Saint Saviour in Jerusalem; an assembly with the brothers in formation of Saint Saviour’s and Ein Karem; Mass in the shepherds’ field in Bethlehem; a procession to the Grotto of the Nativity and visit to the fraternity of Bethlehem; a visit to the archaeological museum of the Holy Land in the Convent of the Flagellation in Jerusalem; the Via Crucis on the streets of Jerusalem; a visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation with prayer of the Angelus in Nazareth; a visit to the Lake of Galilee and a Feast in the Sanctuary of Capernaum; a meeting and Mass with the inter-obediential fraternity in Emmaus Qubeibeh; a meeting in the friary of Saint Saviour with the brothers of the Custody, a celebration of Vespers and festive dinner; a visit to Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives; and a Mass of the General Definitory in the Holy Sepulchre.
The Minister General Br. Michael Perry, OFM, with the Vicar General and Definitors, gave thanks to God for the fraternal closeness of the brothers of the Custody of the Holy Land, for their ongoing service to the local Church and pilgrims in the Holy Land, for the life of the friars minor in dialogue with the different cultures and beliefs. Their prayer is the prayer to the “Most High, almighty, good Lord”, that He might assist the Order with his grace, to live the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, in fraternity and minority.
On October 14, 2018, in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis will enrol the blessed Vincenzo Romano, diocesan priest, parish priest of Santa Croce in Torre Greco (Naples) in the catalogue of the saints. His Cause of Canonization had been entrusted to the Postulator General of our Order, Rev. Luca M. De Rosa, OFM, in 1998. After an in-depth study of a miraculous healing that took place in the Archdiocese of Naples in 1989 attributed to the intercession of the blessed the Cause has happily concluded.
The new saint was born in Torre del Greco (Naples) in 1751 and spent his entire life there, sanctifying himself in the priestly ministry. He was a wise educator of groups of young people, several of whom he started on the way to the priesthood; a zealous minister of liturgical worship and of the celebration of the sacraments; a fervent preacher of the Word of God. He cared for the poor and the sick and took an active interest in the social reality of his time, in particular coral fishermen and their families, who drew their livelihood from the sea. Following the ruinous eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed the parish church and much of the town (1794), Don Vincenzo Romano was the very heart and soul of the material and spiritual rebirth of Torre del Greco. Having rebuilt the church of Santa Croce even more beautifully, rich in merits and surrounded by a vast reputation for holiness, he fell asleep in the Lord on December 20, 1831. He was beatified by Paul VI on November 17, 1963.
As is traditional on October 4th, a member of the Order of Preachers presided and preached at the General Curia’s Solemn Eucharist on the Feast of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi. This year the preacher was Br. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, the Asia-Pacific councilor, parts of whose sermon we share below — for the complete text (in Italian), click here.
Homily for the Feast of our Holy Father St. Francis, 2018
Br. Gerard Francisco P. Timoner III, OP
St. Francis and St. Dominic lived at a time when the Church, just as today, desperately needed to engage in anew evangelization. It’s not hard to imagine that these saints were friends, because both of them are friends of Christ. As Pope Benedict writes in Deus Caritas Est 18, “I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend.” Francis and Domenic are friends because they are friends of Jesus.
We are gathered here as friends because in the Eucharist we celebrate the love that comes from friendship with Jesus. Communion is a grace that comes from the Eucharist, and the Church is “sign and instrument both of a very closely-knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. Therefore, building the Body of Christ is building communion.
But our Church today suffers from divisions. The body of Christ is wounded. It seems that some members of the Church cannot understand that when they inflict pain on other members, they actually hurt themselves. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer together,” says St. Paul. Pope Francis knows that divisions slowly destroy the Church. Two years ago, he said in a homily: “the devil has two powerful weapons for destroying the Church: division and money…the divisions in the Church do not allow the kingdom of God to grow. Instead the divisions make you see only this part, and the other part is opposed to this: always opposed, there is no oil of unity, the balm of unity.”
Pope Francis has correctly understood that divisions and greed are the diabolical diseases afflicting the Church today. And St. Francis offers the Church two powerful antidotes: fraternity and evangelical poverty.
St. Francis listened to Jesus at the church of San Damiano: “Go and repair my church which, as you see, is in ruins”. We know that the church of San Damiano is a metaphor for the entire Church. While Francis listened to the voice of Jesus from the cross, he also embraced his own cross. We all know how difficult it is to carry our crosses, and Francis bore his very well.
In today’s Gospel we listen to an invitation that is the most caring and tender invitation heard from Jesus. It is different to his other invitations which involve sacrifices, for example: “take your cross and follow me” or “go and sell everything, then come and follow me“. In this particular invitation, we deeply feel Jesus’ tender affection: “Come to me, all you who are weary and oppressed, and I will give you rest … learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart“.
St. Francis embraced the cross of Jesus and rebuilt the Church. Let us try to honor him by helping him build the Church of our time. Let’s do it with hope in our hearts, because “Hope is the radical refusal to put limits on what God can do for us”.
Lumen Gentium, 1.
Pope Francis, Morning Meditation in the Chapel ofDomus Sanctae Marthae, “We Are All Corinthians”, Monday, September 12th, 2016
The Transitus of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was celebrated at the General Curia on October 3, 2018.
On the evening of the 3rd, Br. Saúl Flores Interiano, OFM, Guardian of the General Curia, presided at the Transitus. The church of Santa Maria Mediatrice was completely packed with religious sisters from various Congregations, nearby Franciscan communities and friends. A social in the cloister of the Curia followed the liturgical celebration.