Europe and the Mediterranean




In May 1313 an octogenarian Ramon Llull sets sail from Mallorca to Messina (Sicily). He visits Frederick II, king of the island, to whom he had dedicated the book De novo modo demostrandi. King Frederick, brother of the King of Aragon and brother in law of the kings of Mallorca and Naples, was regarded by the Spiritualist Franciscans (headed by Arnau de Vilanova) as a dreamer leader, prone to adventures of spiritual conquests overseas. Llull remains in Messina a year (until May 1314), which court exudes a cultured, theological and mystical atmosphere. However the tangible support he receives from the King of Sicily for his missionary purposes is rather scarce. In spite of his old age he lives in Messina a period of intense work during which he persists in preaching to the Jews of the city and writes no less than thirty eight books, amongst them Llibre de consolació d’ermità; he also prepares his last mission to be in African land.



Messina, called “the door of Sicily”, is the capital of the island. It is located near the strait with the same name which separates it from the Italian peninsula. In 468 the Vandals seized the city from the Romans; it was then later conquered by the Ostrogoths, Belisarius, the Arabs (842) and the Normans (1060). In the uprising of the Sicilian Vespers (1282) the city passed into the hands of Pedro II of Catalonia and Aragon. It was, along with Palermo, the main center of the Catalan administration in the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the most part of southern Italy. At that time the port of Messina, capable of holding six hundred vessels, experienced a period of great prosperity.

Messina has preserved some Roman necropolis, and several Christian churches; among them the cathedral or duomo of Santa Maria Assunta (Byzantine, rebuilt in the 12th century) and the church of l’Annunziata dei Catalani (12th century built on top of a temple of Neptune). Most of the monuments in Messina had to be rebuilt after the earthquakes of 1783 and 1908 (followed this one by a devastating tsunami that destroyed the city almost completely) and the bombing in 1943.


Ramon Llull quotations

«Because what you know is not as much as what you do not know, do not talk too much»

Messages about Ramon Llull

Ramon Llull went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1265, aged thirty three.

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