Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
After an intense apostolic activity in Italy, in 1219 Francis went to Egypt with the Fifth Crusade, to announce the Gospel to the Saracens. He met with the Sultan Malek-al-Kamel, marking the beginning of a spirit of dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam. The Franciscan presence in the Holy Land started in 1217, when the province of Syria was established, with Brother Elias as Minister. By 1229, the friars had a small house near the fifth station of the Via Dolorosa. In 1272 the sultan Baibars allowed the Franciscans to settle in the Cenacle on Mount Sion. Later on, in 1309, they also settled in the Holy Sepulchre and in Bethlehem. In 1335 King Robert d'Angiò of Naples, and his wife, Sancia di Maiorca, bought the Cenacle and gave it to the Franciscans. Pope Clement VI, by the Bulls "Gratias agimus" and "Nuper charissimae" (1342), declared the Franciscans as the official custodians of the Holy Places in the name of the Catholic Church. The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land is still in force today.