Mission Improbable

St. Francis & the Sultan

Late in the summer of 1219, Francis of Assisi crossed enemy lines during the Fifth Crusade, hoping that he could convert Egypt's Sultan Malik al-Kamil to Christianity. Francis, who had begun his ministry after recovering from the trauma of a horrific battlefield experience and imprisonment, hoped to end the violence of the Crusade by winning over the sultan.

The medieval accounts of this event vary. The earliest and most reliable—particularly the works of the source closest to the...

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About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009).