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Ramon Lull: Apostle to the Moslems

December 16, 2006


Extracts from Heroes of God by Henri Daniel-Rops, published by Sophia Institute Press:

In the ship’s bow, a man stood contemplating the splendor and the glory that filled his heart. Sublime words of prayer rose from his heart.


That night, August 14, 1314, when the land breeze freshened, the lanteen sail would be hoisted to the main mast, and the ship would move into the channel at the very hour that all the church bells of the city would ring out in honor of the Very Holy Virgin and her glorious Assumption.

The man contemplating the sea as though impatient to be beyond the horizon was a majestic old man with a very white, very long beard. […] He was a Franciscan tertiary – that is to say, a layman who has nonetheless taken the vows, assumed the monastic garb, and adopted the monastic life of his clerical brothers.


The white-bearded old man was Ramon Lull, Br. Ramon, whom people often called “the blessed,” as though he was already in Heaven.


Nobody knew how many journeys he had made, but he had traveled to the ends of the earth – as it was then known. He had been received by kings in the four corners of Europe, even in distant, foggy England. He had been five times to Rome and had had long interviews with the Holy Father. He had braved the hostile Turks and at the risk of his life had made his pilgrimage to Palestine, where he had knelt before the tomb of the Lord.

Even more astonishing, two, three, perhaps four times – nobody knew exactly, because Br. Ramon did not speak much about himself – he had pushed into Moslem Africa and courageously landed on the unfriendly shores of Tunisia and Algeria to carry the Good Tidings and preach the doctrine of Christ. It was toward the coast of Africa that Br. Ramon’s ship was to sail that midnight, toward the blue and silver horizon that beckoned him to service in the land of Islam where, as a missionary of the Word, he wished to raise again the Cross of the Christ, which had been overturned.


He questioned whether the reconquest of thrones, the destruction of enemy power by the sword, was being truly faithful to the commandments of the Christ. For a Christian, Ramon believed, there were other arms than steel. “Love thine enemies.” The Moslems, too, were entitled to the love of the Lord.


Palestine at that time was in a sorry state, plundered by the Moslems, ruined by years of warfare. Ramon managed to reach Jerusalem, where he knelt before the empty Holy Sepulchre. As he prayed, he knew that he had not been mistaken; he was on the right road. During the long hours spent in prayer on the very spot where Jesus died so that men – all men – might receive the message of love, Ramon heard a mysterious voice speaking within him, repeating the injunction that he must embark on the great adventure.


He knew that his infirmities had won the day, yet stubbornly and heroically he continued to fight, to preach, to write, and to publish more and more tracts and treatises arguing with the Moslem doctrine and proclaiming Christ. He knew that death was close behind him, yet he refused to look back over his shoulder.

Finally, one June day of 1316, a mob aroused against him by his Islamic adversaries rushed him off his feet, beat him viciously, and left him lying on the street, believing him dead. And he would have died, had not a group of Genoese sailors found him and carried him aboard their ship….



From → Books, Portraits

One Comment
  1. Woah. Great juxtaposition! History, he repeats himself, no?

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