Words are Stronger than Weapons

The big adventure for a Christian prince or knight in the Middle Ages was to take part in the military campaigns known as the Crusades. Their purpose was to travel to the Holy Land to fight the Moslems and win back for the Christian Church the holy places where Jesus had lived and died.

St Francis and his Franciscan companions in Assisi thought that this was no way to spread the Christian gospel. It could only be done peacefully, by loving example and reasonable discussion.

In 1219 Francis went on a long voyage to convert the Moslems. At Damietta in Egypt he preached to the crusader knights and tried to stop them fighting. They ignored him. Meanwhile, Francis fearlessly set out to talk to the Sultan in person. At first the Saracen guards were suspicious. Francis was beaten and turned away, but he persisted and was eventually admitted. The Sultan refused to be converted to Christianity, but admired his courage and listened with respect to the messenger of peace.

Another story about st Francis shows how he even managed to calm down a wild beast with his gentle words. The people of Gubbio were terrified of a fierce wolf who had attacked their village. Francis went out to meet the wolf and reason with him. "Come here, brother wolf," he said. "I have heard terrible things about you, but now you must make peace and promise me that you will not harm anybody ever again." The wolf meekly followed Francis into Gubbio. He made friends with the
people who fed him and looked after him for the rest of his life.

Pax Christi

What skills do you need to be a good peacemaker? What do you have to say or do to stop your friends, or brothers and sisters, from fighting?

Try to talk to someone who has hurt you. Tell them how you feel and ask them to explain why they hurt you.