On October 4, 2022, a group of thirty-eight lay Lutheran Christians from Finland, along with four of their pastors, visited the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome.

The group was led by the Lutheran Pastor Antti KRUUS, an old friend of the Conventual Franciscans. He has brought hundreds of groups to Italy, in particular, to visit Franciscan places. Pastor KRUUS can certainly be called one of the “most Franciscan among the Lutherans” and he would very much like to have a Franciscan presence in today’s Finland, “the land of a thousand lakes.”
The spiritual sons of St. Francis of Assisi, in their missionary expeditions between 1200 and 1400, did not neglect distant Scandinavia. Finland at that time belonged to the Swedish crown. The Friars Minor Conventual arrived between 1300 and 1400 and opened three communities with churches next door. The only visible remnant of this Franciscan legacy in Finland is the Church of the Holy Cross in Rauma, built by the friars starting in the mid-1400s and ending in 1512, when the church was consecrated.
Friar Silvestro BEJAN, the Head of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue at the basilica, welcomed the Lutherans and the history and artwork in the basilica. He also described the work the friars do in the friary. After the guided tour, everyone went to the basilica’s St. Joseph of Cupertino chapel for a prayer animated with beautiful hymns.
At this moment in history, Ecumenical dialogue seems to be frozen; it is very slow because of the crisis that each individual church is experiencing internally. However, through prayer we can challenge the impossible in the name of God. By praying for unity, we confess that only God can make it happen, in the time and manner that he wills.

Friar Silvestro BEJAN