Brooklyn judge organizes viewing of historic St. Francis of Assisi manuscripts

January 8, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Paul Moses, left, Brooklyn College professor and author of the book “The Saint and the Sultan,” is shown with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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A group of Brooklyn judges and lawyers had an opportunity to check out a historic exhibition about St. Francis of Assisi and a presentation by Brooklyn College professor Paul Moses at Borough Hall on Tuesday night.

Justice Bernard Graham organized the event, which was co-sponsored by local lawyers’ associations including the Catholic Lawyers Guild, the Irish-American Bar Association of New York, the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn, the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of New York and the Brehon Law Society of New York City. The Oratory Church of St. Boniface was also a sponsor.

“A lot of these groups are very interested in their Catholic heritage and Italian heritage, and St. Francis is a very important figure,” Graham said. “This is a great opportunity because it was coming to Brooklyn. It’s only one of two places it’s travelled to in 700 years. It seemed like a great opportunity for an event like this if Borough Hall was willing to make it available to the public.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was thrilled to have such esteemed guests visiting Borough Hall to view the exhibit.

“When Judge Graham approached us and said that he wanted to host one of the nights where he could bring in some of his colleagues, we thought it was extremely fitting and we thank the judge for doing that,” Adams said. “This is a great exhibit and a great opportunity to allow us to reflect on the life of St. Francis.”
Organizing the judges and lawyers was the easy part, but getting Moses, who wrote the book “The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace,” to come speak at the event took a bit of kismet.

“I saw in the Times’ reporting of the exhibit that Paul Moses was an authority on St. Francis, and he just so happened to be somebody who was a family friend,” Graham said. “So I figured that people would enjoy hearing more about St. Francis, and we put it together with this exhibit. The groups all felt the same way, so here we are in the dark days of January.”

This is the first time in 700 years that the manuscripts have left Italy and are available to the public, so Moses was not surprised to hear the interest from these legal groups. He also added that it a remarkable opportunity for the people of Brooklyn, since an exhibit like this would typically be located in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art rather than Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.

“This exhibit really provides a connection to St. Francis in a lot of different ways,” Moses said. “It’s also well located in a convenient place in Brooklyn. It’s definitely a surprise that it’s here. I only know what I read from Jim Dwyer in the Times, which is that Joseph Chirico [owner of Marco Polo restaurant in Carroll Gardens] decided that St. Francis would love the underdog and Brooklyn is the underdog, which is probably true.”

The exhibition is free and open to the public until Jan. 14.

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