A light for today. A woman who inspires us.
This was the theme of the 2nd Islamo-Christian Meeting held on the Ile Blanche on 28 and 29 October 2023.
Not a conference for specialists, but a meeting of believers. Each participant, Muslim or Christian, was invited to express who Mary/Myriam is for him or her, in the course of friendly and fraternal exchanges. Around sixty people gathered around two main speakers: Ms Karima Berger, Muslim author of the book “Les gardiennes du secret”, and Mgr Claude Rault, Bishop Emeritus of the Sahara.
Two sisters from the Ile Blanche community shared what particularly touched them about this meeting: Sister Anne-Marie Foucher and Sister Anne-Françoise Angomard.
“I experienced this Meeting under the sign of Beauty, which Karima Berger says is essential to Islam. Beauty was present everywhere: – In the respectful, open dialogue between the participants, – In the music, the songs, the calligraphy, – And in what we discovered about Mary/Myriam, beyond the sometimes surprising differences in the stories about her in the two Books: The beauty of Mary of the Gospel, the Woman of YES who dialogues with the Angel and gives herself over to the Spirit, the Handmaid of the Lord who exults and, surely, dances for joy for her God when she meets her cousin; the beauty of Maryam of the Koran. From before she was born, her parents consecrated her to God. In the Temple where she lives, she gives herself to God and receives food from Him. And when the Angel Gabriel came to visit her in her private life, he found her ready to be “taken” by God. “The Koran is not a rehash of the Gospel. It sheds other lights on the same truth”. “There is only one Source, even if it is divided into different streams.” A word of advice from Mgr Rault: “If reading the Koran (or the Gospel) seems impenetrable and discouraging, make a Muslim (or Christian) friend. It’s the relationship of friendship that helps you enter into the text.”
In the current context of the Israeli-Palestinian war, we experienced this meeting as a “divine surprise”. It encourages us to trust others and to allow the Spirit to take its rightful place in our sometimes-difficult daily encounters. Friendships were made, others strengthened: this Meeting will have consequences…”
Sister Anne-Marie Foucher
“Marie – Myriam
You come like a symphony
To change the course of our history
Your existence is a challengeµ
A world is born when you say “yes”, Mary.
In her cloak of humility and gentleness, Marie-Myriam invited herself onto the path of visitation between Christian and Muslim brothers. The proposed theme opened the window wide to the other: “Mary-Myriam: a light for today, a woman who inspires us and challenges us”. And we welcomed each other, enriched each other, each in the soil of our own faith or the cave of our own research and questioning. What a divine surprise to discover that Mary-Myriam, light, and woman, inspires our lives, whether we are Christians or Muslims. We journey together with her, suras from the Koran, verses from the Bible, gifts from the same God. Differences do not drive us apart, they bring us together. “To understand Islam, you need a Muslim friend”, said Mgr Rault, Bishop Emeritus of the Sahara. Karima Berger, Muslim woman and author, with sublime delicacy and gentleness, tells us spoke of Miriam in the Koran, guardian of the mystery of what God keeps. Divine beauty. The purest of women. Music, songs and paintings brought a breath of emotion to this meeting, supported by the silence of the words that penetrated our hearts. “O Mary, God has chosen you, purified you and set you above the women of the world” Sura 3-43 – “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” Luke 1:38
Mary, so small and so great
So fragile and so strong
Throwing over the torments of the world
A cloak of tenderness.
To contemplate Mary is to enter with her into the heart of her silence
To gather in the dew the pearls of those who pray.
Sister Anne-Françoise Angomard
Meeting 01. A calligraphy evoking a sura from the Koran about Mary
Meeting 02. The setting that supported the meeting
Meeting 03. Magnificat
Meeting 04: Karima Berger, Muslim speaker
Meeting 05. Bishop Claude Rault, Bishop Emeritus of the Sahara and Karima, Muslim writer
Meeting 06. The two musicians: Abderamane and Maëlle
Meeting 07. The priest reading the Gospel of the Visitation and Karima preparing to “give” us the Magnificat
Meeting 08. The Ile Blanche chapel
Meeting 09. Patrick, priest, Mehand, imam, Thérèse, Daughter of the Holy Spirit, and a little Muslim boy who carried and planted the souvenir plaque: “Mary, a light…, a woman who inspires us”.
Meeting 10. The olive tree from the 2019 meeting enriched with the 2023 souvenir plaque
Meeting 11. L’Ile Blanche, seen from low tide