The Sultan and the Saint tells the little-known story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, Muhammad Al-Kamil, two charismatic men of different faiths who met on a bloody battlefield and found common ground. In 1219, during the height of the Crusades – the bitter religious war between Muslims and Christians – St. Francis risked his life in an attempt to bring peace. What he encountered when he crossed enemy lines was a Muslim leader who welcomed him, listened with respect, and who ultimately responded with one of the greatest humanitarian acts in the history of warfare.
Narrated by Jeremy Irons, the film combines sweeping drama with historical context from authors and religious scholars to create an inspiring and timely story of peace and reconciliation. Written and directed by Alex Kronemer and speaking with urgencyt to our present, The Sultan and the Saint premieres on Tuesday, December 26th, at 7:00 p.m. on KUED.
The fact that the Sultan of Egypt and a Catholic friar would have a respectful spiritual exchange during the Crusades is nothing short of miraculous. By the time the two men met, Christians were on their Fifth Crusade, fighting a holy war to reclaim Jerusalem after five centuries of Muslim rule. To motivate men to travel to faraway lands and engage in bloody conflict, Christian leaders stoked religious fervor and hatred of the enemy. “Destroy that vile race,” wrote Pope Urban II in his letter of instruction to the first crusaders. “Those who refuse to pay Him the servant’s service that they owe Him will justly deserve to suffer a sentence of damnation.”
“The crux of the Crusades – the reason so many were willing to sacrifice their lives – lay in a belief, spread among armies, that vanquishing the enemy was a religious obligation,” said director Alex Kronemer. “To persuade them further, political and religious leaders preached lies and dehumanized the enemy, tapping into something primal and dangerous.”
St. Francis and the Sultan of Egypt bucked a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda. Their dramatic story with its many twists and turns features characters who are more compelling than even their legends claim.