Photo by Debra Greenblat - Catholic San Francisco

Saturday, January 26th - The presence of the National Shrine and the Capuchin friars could not be missed among the tens of thousands of participants in the 2019 "Walk for Life West Coast."


Saint Francis' Conversion Begins from Franciscan Media on Vimeo.


By St. Francis of Assisi

Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders.
Thou art strong.
Thou art great.
Thou art most high.
Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth.
Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good.
Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true.
Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom.
Thou art humility.
Thou art patience.
Thou art security.
Thou art quietude.
Thou art joy and gladness.
Thou art justice and temperance.
Thou art all riches to sufficiency.
Thou art beauty.
Thou art meekness.
Thou art protector.
Thou art guardian and defender.
Thou art strength.
Thou art refreshment.
Thou art our hope.
Thou art our faith.
Thou art our great sweetness.
Thou art our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, God Almighty, merciful Saviour.


by Phillip Kosloski,

Putting his life at risk, St. Francis boldly approached the Sultan of Egypt to plead for peace and preach the Gospel.

In the midst of the Crusades, the Sultan of Egypt Malek al-Kamil (nephew of Saladin) declared that anyone who delivered him the head of a Christian would be rewarded with a Byzantine gold piece. Fighting had been fierce and the Sultan wanted to put a definitive end to the conflict. By August 1219 his armies succeeded in defending the stronghold of Damietta, killing about 5,000 crusaders in the process.

Then came St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis and Br. Illuminatus boldly went across the battle lines unarmed and were quickly captured by the Sultan's army and badly beaten. However, the soldiers spared their lives and brought them before the Sultan.

St. Bonaventure described the encounter, writing, "The sultan asked them by whom and why and in what capacity they had been sent, and how they got there; but Francis replied that they had been sent by God, not by men, to show him and his subjects the way of salvation and proclaim the truth of the Gospel message. When the sultan saw his enthusiasm and courage, he listened to him willingly and pressed him to stay with him." It is said that Francis greeted the Sultan with the greeting, "May the Lord give you peace," similar to the traditional Muslim greeting of, "Assalam o alaikum" or "Peace be upon you." This surprised the Sultan who was quickly enraptured by Francis' holiness.

Francis proceeded to preach the Gospel to the Sultan in such a way that al-Kamil was not offended and did not end Francis' life immediately for blasphemy. The Sultan could see the love that flowed from Francis and was astonished by his boldness. They spoke together of the spiritual life and reflected on each other's traditions.

The two friars stayed in the Muslim camp for several days and departed on peaceful terms. Before they left al-Kamil wanted to give Francis lavish gifts, but Francis refused according to his vow of poverty. This too left al-Kamil speechless as he was not aware of a man who refused earthly honors. Francis eventually accepted the single gift of an ivory horn that is currently on display in Assisi.

The encounter changed al-Kamil, who gave safe passage to St. Francis and his companions and began to treat Christian prisoners of war with surprising kindness. The Sultan proceeded to negotiate for peace with the crusaders, asking them to leave Egypt, but the efforts ultimately failed. By 1221 al-Kamil offered peace again, which was refused, and he consequently opened the floodgates of the Nile to further deter them. The crusaders then agreed to an 8-year peace agreement.


At his General Audience on Wednesday (February 6), Pope Francis reflected on his Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates (Feb. 3—5).

Although brief, the Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates "wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam," Pope Francis said Wednesday, "and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human fraternity".

Keeping the love of Christ at heart

Speaking at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis said that he was mindful that his Journey — the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula — came during the 800thanniversary of St Francis of Assisi's encounter with the Sultan al -Malik al-Kamil. "I thought about St Francis during this journey", the Pope said. "It helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ, in my heart as I experienced the various moments of the visit".

Sons and daughters of God

Pope Francis went on to reflect on some of the high points of the Journey. He pointed to the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, which the Pope said represents another step forward. In this document, he said, "we affirmed the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers and sisters, insofar as all are children of God". The two leaders also condemned "every form of violence, especially those clothed in religious motivations", and committed themselves "to spreading authentic values and peace throughout the world". The Holy Father encouraged people to read the Document "because it gives so much impetus to move forward in the dialogue on human fraternity".

Defending common values

Pope Francis noted that there is "a strong temptation" in our day "to see a clash between Christian and Islamic civilization, and to consider religions as a source of conflicts". He explained that the signing of the document was meant to be a "clear and decisive" sign that, "despite a diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian world and the Islamic world appreciate and defend common values".

Praying for peace and justice

Finally, the Holy Father reflected on his encounter with the Christian people who live in the UAE. During the Mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium, he said, "we prayed in a particular way for peace and justice, with special intentions for the Middle East, and for Yemen" in particular.

The Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates "relates to the ‘surprises' of God", the Pope said in conclusion. "So let praise Him and His providence, and pray that the seeds sown might bring forth fruits according to His holy will".

Christopher Wells,

Welcome to the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and the namesake of our city, San Francisco. The National Shrine is the property of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and it consists of our historic Church built in 1849 and our beautiful Chapel (La Porziuncola Nuova, or Little Portion) built in 2008.

The National Shrine is not only located in the heart of San Francisco where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" in a singular way where Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in our city.

One of the reasons this Shrine is unique is its very urban location in the second most densely populated city in the country. But in the midst of an often rowdy, noisy, bawdy, and chaotic neighborhood (a bronze marker in the sidewalk reminds us that this was once "The Barbary Coast"), the Shrine's Church and the Porziuncola offer an oasis of peace, quiet, serenity, and refreshment to the thirsty spirit.

Saint Francis was very aware that all of God's creation is holy and that it reflects his beauty, truth, and goodness. But Francis appreciated churches, especially, because he knew that in these sacred spaces people could find and recognize the presence of God's spirit more easily than "in the world." That is why the Little Poor Man of Assisi dedicated a good portion of his life to rebuilding old abandoned churches, like San Damiano (where he had heard the voice of Jesus Christ) and Saint Mary of the Angels Porziuncola (or Little Portion).

We hope during your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi you will experience something of the reverence, tranquility, and blessings people find when they enter our actual doors. Thus, we invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site as often as you like, while allowing "The Heart of San Francisco" to become a place where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!

We also invite you to take the opportunity to participate in the mission of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi by sharing with us your financial support, either by making a donation or by shopping at our online store. But even if you're unable to give anything at this time, please know that you are always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your generosity of spirit.

St. Francis of Assisi Mission

The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, as with The Archdiocese of San Francisco, has a mission that is rooted in the Gospels and the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Central to that teaching is the inherent dignity and sacredness of each human being.

We educate and advocate on this dignity in relation to the unborn child, the prisoner on death row, the homeless and hungry person on our streets, the elderly, the ill and disabled faced with the threat of assisted suicide, the stranger in our midst, and the poor and marginalized in our society and throughout the world. We are neither right nor left, Republican nor Democrat, but we formulate our agenda by the standard of human dignity that is reflected in our faith tradition.

  1. It is the purpose of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi to provide more abundant means of salvation, through the rich liturgical and devotional life of the Roman Catholic Church for the Christian faithful, including those who come as pilgrims from around the world to the City of San Francisco and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, who seek to encounter the living God through religious worship and special devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints.
  2. It is the further purpose of the National Shrine to welcome, share and extend this same spiritual experience and devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints to pilgrims and visitors of all faiths, religions, denominations, and nationalities.
  3. The Capuchin Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.) and Staff of the National Shrine, therefore, provide a pastoral (i.e., welcoming and prayerful) environment with the hope that in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, spiritual nourishment healing and reconciliation will be found by all who visit the Shrine.