I had never planned to create an Anachron™ of St. Francis. So much is known about him, and so much beautiful art has already been inspired by him – unlike the more obscure saints that I usually do. Like most people, I had mostly associated him with animals. (I also was taught by Franciscan nuns in elementary school and remember them fondly.) But then, in 2002, our country decided to go to war yet again in the Middle East.
I discovered that in 1219 Francis traveled to North Africa in an attempt to stop the crusades and bring peace between Muslims and Christians. He actually managed to speak to the Sultan, Melek-al-Kamil, and convinced him to agree to an armistice.
The Sultan, though, made the point that Muslims believed as firmly in the truths of Islam as Francis did in the truths of his own faith. Much to Francis’ disappointment, the Christian leaders refused to agree to the truce. However, the Franciscans were given permanent custody of the Christian shrines then in Muslim hands.
About the piece:
PAX POTIOR BELLO (Peace is more powerful than war) entwines a dove bearing an olive branch. Francis is sitting at a meal with the Sultan. Two African women are holding birds: a parrot symbolizing communication and an owl for wisdom. A church, pyramid, and castle, desert, sea, trees and flowers symbolize Francis’ world. Camels, dolphins, a wolf and numerous other animals have come together in a “Peaceable Kingdom,” with “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon” shining from a turbulent sky.