Project Description

1219 – The Saint and the Sultan

Francis of Assisi stands for a comprehensive readiness for dialogue which leads to an unconditional primacy of peace with all creatures of this world. The many stories and legends about St. Francis’s encounters and conversations with different animals and his poetry to praise nature, the song of the sun, are popular proofs of this theology and spirituality, revolutionary in the time of Francis, which shows respect for everything and everyone, because everything and everyone in this world is ultimately a creature of God and thus part of God.

In November 1219, the Crusaders occupied the city of Damiette and caused an unbelievable bloodbath among the inhabitants, but a year later, strategic mistakes in the further course of action led to the encirclement of the armies and the offer of the return of Damiette for their own salvation. This 5th crusade had cost 100,000 victims and was so unsuccessful that it was not even listed in most counts or included in the subsequent crusade.

In these world-historical events, the presence of Francis is only a marginal anecdote, although it is historically proven. Francis had arrived at Damiette in August 1219. The meeting with the Sultan took place at the end of September, presumably during the break in negotiations after taking the fortress and before taking the city. It is reported that Francis reacted with great horror to the brutality of the Crusaders towards the population.

The trip to Syria and Egypt was the third attempt of Saint Francis to go to the “Saracens” and proclaim the Gospel to them. In previous years he had had to abandon his plan every time because of shipwreck or illness.

Accompanied by Brother Illuminatus, he then sets off and finally meets the Sultan AL Malik, the nephew of the great Salahaddin Eyyubi, the Sultan who has become a myth.
During the war between the Christian and Muslim armies Francis broke through the politics of violent opposition and went to the Egyptian Sultan Al-Kamil Muhammad al-Malik to preach freely before him and to end the war by persuasion. The encounter between Sultan Al-Kamil Muhammad al-Malik and Francis had an effect on both. The Sultan did not convert to Christianity, but was impressed by the man from Italy dressed like a Sufi. Francis returned unharmed to Assisi after the conversation. Muslims were no longer “cruel animals” for him, as the crusade propaganda spread in the West. Rather he appreciated their noble customs and their deep reverence for God. As a consequence he wrote in the first rule of the Order that the members of his community who moved in other cultural areas should bear witness to Christianity by a simple and peaceful presence and a serving attitude towards people and should “neither quarrel nor argue”. In addition, he advocates, following the example of the muezzin call, that there should also be a sign in the West that all people should remember the praise of God. The Angelus ringing of the church bells in the morning, noon and evening, which is still common today, goes back to this initiative.

Francis’s action is groundbreaking for a good cultural and religious dialogue


At the imperial court of Frederick II the Staufer (1194-1250) in Palermo, who refused to take part in the crusade and was therefore excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX, Christians, Jews and Muslims were equally welcome. A promoter of art, culture and music. This is where oriental melismas and medieval Italian songs meet in the Levant.


Mehmet C. Yesilcay-lutes, musical direction
Enea Sorini singing, percussion
Ibrahim Suat Erbay Song
Giovannangelo de Gennaro-Viella, hurdy-gurdy, Zurna
Corina Marti-Organetto, Flutes
Serkan Meseut Halili-Kanun
Volkan Yilmaz-Ney
Ozan Pars Percussion, Tanbur

1219 The Saint and the Sultan

Double CD in limited luxury edition with 100 pages booklet, embossed print, in a box underneath can be ordered

the normal CD is released by Berlin Classics