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Byline: AMY ALEXANDER
Francis of Assisi wanted to be an instrument of peace -- even when he was surrounded by hordes of Christian and Muslim soldiers who were eager to stab, hack and burn their way to victory.
In fact, the frail monk went so far as to walk into a Muslim camp, unarmed, during the Fifth Crusade to explain the finer points of his beliefs to al-Malik al-Kamil, the Muslim sultan of Egypt, Palestine and Syria.
It was a radical -- if not suicidal -- move. But Francis (circa 1181-1226) believed in his mission. He held that authentic connection, not bullying, was the key to spreading his way of life.
"I wish only to show reverence to all," he said. "To convert everyone more by example than by word."
Francis' entrepreneurial willingness to think big and take risks helped make him one of the most influential men ever.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Francis launched "the most potent and popular religious movement since the beginnings of Christianity." He was named a saint in 1228, just two years after he …