(CMC) “Egidio of Assisi and the Origins of the Franciscan presence in the Middle East” was the theme of the conference held in the Convent of St. Savior in Jerusalem, in memory of the 800th anniversary of the arrival of the first Friars Minor in the Holy Land.
Two days were scheduled to further understand the history of the Franciscan presence.
According to Father Marcello, ofm, it is important to keep the memory alive, to appreciate the events of the Franciscan order in order to rethink and plan better for the future. Watch below.
“The idea was born as an important circumstance to truly reflect on the events that marked the arrival of the first friars minor … and at the same time, in the historic component, as the second spokesman, Brother Narcisio Klimas, observed: What kind of life did they have here, in the Middle East? How did they get here with merchants and with the crusaders? How were fraternities and monasteries formed? How did they handle specific situations? What was going on with Islam at that time? How did they handle to remain here?”
According to Stefano Brufani, professor of Franciscan studies, Egidio of Assisi, the first Franciscan assigned to the Holy Land, was a man of holiness in everyday life.
Pilgrimage was primarily important to Egidio of Assisi: he had longed to come to the Holy Land to visit the places of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Apostles.
“And this is what led him to the Holy Land: one of the two legends, the ancient one, the Perugina, devotes a whole chapter to the presence of Egidio in the Holy Land and his stay here, the hospitality he received from the Christian communities and even the way he lived his life here, his zeal at work, like he did in his homeland.”
The presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land goes back to the very origins of the Order of Friars Minor. Founded by St. Francis in 1209, the Order immediately began to evangelize.
We asked Father Narcisio Klimas, Professor of Church History and the Custody of the Holy Land, if the Franciscan presence in the Middle East was always a presence of peace.
“Yes, the Franciscan presence was always a presence of peace here, peace interpreted in a different way and we see it in today’s friars.
Fidenzio of Padua was more of a peace warrior to defend castles. The Oxford scholar was another friar who was also inclined to solve problems peacefully. The friars used two different methods to follow the path. Initially they tried to defend themselves by force but later the peaceful ways of the scholar of Oxford prevailed, and this is what truly works: today we are still here.”
It was very significant for Father Dobromir, Vicar General of the Custody of the Holy Land, to hear the story of the first friars who arrived here, to understand the purpose for which they came, and the spirit that enlightened them.
“The friars introduced themselves as messengers of peace, those who do not want to judge anyone, but want to be present and confess their Christian faith. This aspect is crucial because of the conflicts we witness nowadays and the wars that have no chance of being resolved unless we establish a genuine dialogue of peace. This is the spirit of the early friars that must continue in today’s friars:
peace is their mission.”