ST. FRANCIS AND THE SULTAN OF EGYPT: STORIES ABOUT FRANCIS (1)
Note: Anonymous, Verba fr. Illuminati (Ms Vat. Ottob. Lat. 522) Golubovich, Biblioteca, vol. I, pp. 36-37.
One day the sultan wanted to test the faith and fervor that Blessed Francis manifested toward our crucified Lord. He had a beautiful multicolored carpet spread out on the ground; it was almost entirely decorated with motifs in the form of crosses. He said to the spectators: “Fetch that man who seems to be a true Christian; if in coming toward me he walks on the crosses of the carpet, we will say to him that he insults his Lord. If he refuses to walk on the carpet, I shall ask him why he disdains to approach me.” The man full of God was called. Now, this man received his instructions for his actions as well as for his words from the very plentitude of God: he walked across the carpet from one end to the other and came near the sultan. Then the sultan thinking that he had found a good opportunity to charge the man of God with having insulted Christ, said to him: “You Christians adore the cross as a special sign of your God: why then did you not fear to trample underfoot those crosses woven into the rug?” Blessed Francis answered him: “Thieves were also crucified along with our Lord. We have the true Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; we adore it and show it great devotion; if the holy Cross of the Lord has been given to us, the cross of the thieves has been left to you as your share. That is why I had no scruple in walking over the symbols of brigands. ……”
The same sultan submitted this problem to him: “Your Lord taught in His gospels that evil must not be repaid with evil, that you should not refuse your cloak to anyone who wants to take your tunic, etc. (Mt 5:40): in that case, Christians should not invade our land?” – “It seems,” Blessed Francis answered, “that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ completely. In another place we read: if your eye causes you to sin, tear it away (Mt 5:29). Here he wanted to teach us that every man, however dear and close he is to us, and even if he is as precious to us as the apple of our eye, must be repulsed, pulled out, expelled if he seeks to turn us aside from the faith and love of our God. That is why it is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from his worship. But if you were to recognize, confess, and adore the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves. ……”
“All the spectators were in admiration at his answers.”
Jakarta, 3 October 2010 [The 27th Ordinary Sunday (Year C)]
[Taken from Marion A. Habig OFM (Editor), OMNIBUS (pp. 1614-1615)]
A Christian Pilgrim