Our Mission and Islamic awareness trip to Turkey takes you into the heart of an ancient land hallowed by the hopes and dreams of Christians and Muslims. Following the footsteps of the early church and taking in some of the world’s most important Islamic sites, you’ll emerge from this trip with an appreciation of what it means to be Muslim and a greater sense of the historical roots of the Christianity.
Beginning in Istanbul, where Europe meets Asia, you’ll visit Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”), now an important mosque and once the spiritual home of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In keeping with the example of St. Francis—who openly encountered Islamic culture in his meeting with the Sultan of Egypt—you’ll visit the Topkapi Palace, the jewel of the Ottoman Empire, where sultans, grand viziers, eunuchs, and concubines exercised power for almost 400 hundred years.
Of course, no visit to Istanbul would be complete without a boat trip of the Bosphorus, time spent bartering for gifts at the Grand Bazaar, and a delicious taste of Turkish food. You’ll engage in a “ministry of presence,” spending time with a Turkish family, meeting Islamic scholars at Bosphorus University, attending a Sufi Sama with whirling dervishes, and hearing about inter religious dialogue from the Franciscan Friars of Santa Maria Daperis Church.
Departing Istanbul, you’ll travel down the coast of this beautiful land to the ancient city of Ephesus, where Paul the Apostle encountered the worshippers of the goddess Artemis in the first century. After a tour of the ruined city, you’ll stop at the House of Mary to see where the mother of Jesus is believed to have lived out her final days. Christians and Muslims have commemorated her life there ever since.
Two days of our trip will be dedicated to one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes: Cappadocia and its otherworldly “fairy chimneys.” As well as being the home of the ancient Hittite people, who are mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, Cappadocia also boasts some of the world’s oldest Christian churches. At the Goreme Open Air Museum, you’ll visit medieval monasteries carved into the volcanic rock. Look out for the 800-year-old red ochre frescoes of Jesus and his saints.
You’ll return to the United States with a deeper understanding of Islam as a religion of peace and holiness, a stronger sense of your Christian heritage, and a Franciscan awareness of the close relationship between all peoples and cultures.