Outreach to Muslims
Agathangelus will always be mentioned in the same breath as his companion Cassian Lopes-Netto. Both were French Franciscan missionaries; both were beatified by St Pius X in 1905.
Born in 1598, Agathangelus was the older of the two and the first to join the Capuchins. He also went on mission first, to Syria. In Aleppo he learnt Arabic and became well liked among the local Muslim community. He befriended the imam of the city’s major mosque.
Later he became superior of the mission in Cairo, and was soon joined by Fr Cassian. Again, Agathangelus was on good terms with the local population, and earned respect as an accomplished scholar of Arabic. But his priority was the Copts, who were mostly in schism. Agathangelus helped two Coptic monks come into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The biggest obstacle to proselytising to the Copts was … the Catholics, whose dissolute lives were a public scandal. Agathangelus begged the Vatican to let him excommunicate the worst offenders. He was refused, and eventually wrote to Rome saying: “For the love of our crucified Lord and His holy Mother, may your Lordships find a cure for these enormous scandals. As for myself, I shall not be held responsible for them before the judgment-seat of Christ who will judge us all.”
Killed by Monophysites
Soon after, Cassian and Agathangelus went to Abyssinia. They were captured and asked to accept Monophysitism; when they refused, they were hanged.
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